ESCANABA - In an effort to safeguard the community as well as protect patients' access to medical marijuana, the Escanaba Council approved a resolution Thursday supporting changes to the act which legalized the drug for health purposes in 2008.
The medical marijuana law allows eligible patients and caregivers to grow pot for specific medical conditions. Each patient can grow up to 12 plants at a time. Caregivers can grow 12 plants for each patient up to five patients. If caregivers are patients themselves, they can grow 12 plants for themselves in addition to the plants for patients.
Mayor Pro Tem Brady Nelson has been spearheading local efforts to make changes in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act because he's concerned about marijuana use in Escanaba and its contribution to the local drug problem.
Nelson is concerned about public safety and the affects of drug abuse such as violence, property damage and break-ins. Also, local police do not have knowledge of legal pot growing operations because of medical confidentiality; officers need to be aware of legal marijuana grows so they can enforce the law where needed, he said.
Local marijuana concerns include break-ins at legal grows and pot smoke going into others' airspace including a day care, according to Public Safety.
Nelson stated, he understands the law allows pot for medical needs, but he is also concerned about the state approving marijuana grows and not inspecting if operations are meeting requirements.
"Council has an opportunity here to say, 'Enough is enough,'" Nelson said. "We have an opportunity and an obligation to fix something."
The city is responsible for public safety and needs to take a leadership role in correcting"serious problems" in the state law, said Nelson, reminding council that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.
Individual council discussion included empathy for patients, the need for more public input on the issue, the difficulty in obtaining names of growers because of medical privacy laws, and increasing concerns for public safety.
In the end, council unanimously approved sending the resolution to Governor Rick Snyder, Sen. Tom Casperson, and Rep. Ed McBroom for consideration.
Council's resolution specifically addresses where the law needs to be clarified "to protect not only a qualifying patient's safe and legal access to medical marijuana but the community in general."
The resolution requests police have access to nonpublic information on legal marijuana grows so laws can be enforced appropriately and not at a waste of "valuable and limited resources."
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org