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Monday, January 19,2009

Marijuana Journal

The rules: first draft

by Greg Francisco

Marijuana Journal is a column tracking the implementation of the state medical marijuana law. The column will be written by Greg Francisco, the executive director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, and will run weekly in City Pulse and every Monday before publication online.

I wasn't sure what to expect on Jan. 5 when the state Department of Community Health held a public hearing on a set of proposed administrative rules for the state’s new medical marijuana system. I knew that many of the rules either directly conflicted with the law approved by voters, threatened patient privacy, or gave the Department expanded powers beyond those spelled out in the law. But I was neither sure if any of that was going to matter to the powers that be, nor how many others would attend the hearing to make their own concerns known.

I shouldn't have feared. As the executive director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, it was my job to rally the troops, and rally they did.

At the meeting, 150 chairs were provided and it was almost standing room only. Patients from as far away as Marquette turned out to voice their concerns with the proposed rules.

In addition to the public hearing, the department was taking written comments through 5 p.m., Jan. 10. Late on the afternoon of Jan. 10, I spoke with a department administrator overseeing the rule-making process. She told me that the department had received scores of written comments. The next step would be go through those comments, organize them and then begin to look at revising the rules. Given the strict time lines involved, the department expects to make those revised rules available to the public on or about Jan. 30.

There is no way to know absolutely what the final rules will look like until we actually see them. But based on my conversations with department officials and the comments made at the public hearing, I believe the medical marijuana community has every reason to be optimistic that the revised rules will be much more workable.

I encourage everyone to visit the Web site of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, www.MichiganMedicalMarijuana.org, to learn more about this new law.


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