Changes to medical marijuana law kick in

As changes to Michigan’s medical marijuana law kicked in on Monday, the overriding question is: How will the Legislature's alterations to the law passed by voters in 2008 affect patients?

The answer it: We’re not completely sure. As with a lot of things related to the state's medical marijuana law, these new changes could take a while to sort themselves out.

Take the change that extends from one to two years the time a state issued patient card is valid. At first glance, that looks like completely positive change. And maybe it is. But as attorney Matthew Abel points out, another change to the law — the one requiring doctors to conduct follow-ups after a patient has been certified to learn if the medicine is working.

What if that doesn’t occur? Does that mean, say, a low-income patient with no health insurance who gets a card for two years but doesn’t return to the doctor might be subject to prosecution?

And is there any law saying that a patient given prescription medicine for pain has to consult with a doctor afterward to verify that it is working?

The sponsor of one of the bills that went into effect Monday, State Rep. Phil Cavanaugh (D-Redford Township), told the Associated Press that lawmakers were concerned that certifications were too easy to obtain.

"Some out-of-state doctor from coming in, renting a hotel room, writing these things and then leaving town," Cavanaugh told the wire service.

But in tightening regulations, did lawmakers create new obstacles for patients on low incomes, or those without medical insurance?

Take the provision that medical records need to be provided to doctors issuing certificates. What if no such records previously exist?

In some ways, it seems, changes that we’re intended to provide clarity might just have created new questions.

Stay tuned for more coverage of this issue by the Metro Times in coming weeks.







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