This past week the Michigan House of Representatives passed four bills that either directly, or indirectly, seek to amend the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMA).  We will discuss the bills and how they may impact the MMA in four different posts over the next four days. First up, HB 4834.

These bills attempt to clarify a law that many have criticized for its “vagueness” and poor draftsmanship.  However, for those of us who practice law in this area, the MMA clearly spells out what Patients and Caregivers can do without fear of prosecution, arrest or penalty of any kind.

HOUSE BILL 4834

House Bill 4834 changes the appearance of the Michigan medical marijuana card, the process in which an additional debilitating medical condition is added to the list of those diseases warranting a medical marijuana card and permits the accessibly  of information to law enforcement.

The New Card:  The new medical marijuana cards will–like a drivers license–have pictures.  Currently, the medical marijuana cards do not contain pictures but have a space for a picture on them.  HB 4834 will change that.  The bill requires Patients and Caregivers send in, with their application, “two identical 2-inch by 2-inch, color photographs” that show the appearance of the applicant.  HB 4834 also extends the life of a card.  Under current law, an individuals card is only good for 1 year.  This would change under the proposed bill and all Medical Marihuana cards would be valid for 2 years.  This is clearly an attempt to lessen the work of an already overworked Michigan Medical Marijuana Program.

Confidential information:  Under the current law, it is a crime for anyone to disclose the confidential information contained on an application for a card unless the disclosure is to a law enforcement officer.  In that case, LARA is authorized to disclose information necessary to determine the authenticity of a card.  HB 4834 authorizes the disclosure to an “authorized employee, subcontractor and state and local law enforcement officers if either (1) “the officer . . . provides a registry identification number, the officer or official is acting in the course of his or her official duties, and the department does not allow access to mare information that is reasonably necessary to verify the authenticity of the registry identification card”, or; (2) “the officer or official provides a name and a date of birth for an individual or an address; the officer or official has probable cause to believe a violation of law that involves the possession, use, transfer or transportation of marihuana. . . ”  This section codifies–and permits–what the police are already doing.  Currently, the officers are running an individuals patient number through LEIN (Law Enforcement Information Network) to determine whether their cards are valid and, who the caregiver is for a particular patient.  It is unclear whether an officer can put an individual’s name in LEIN and ascertain whether that individual is a patient or caregiver.

15 Member Panel:  Finally, HB 4834 will require the appointment of a 15 person panel within 6 months after the bill becomes law.  The purpose of the panel is to review petitions to approve medical conditions or treatments for addition to the list of debilitating medical conditions under the administrative rules.  The department must forward any petitions to the 15 member panel and the 15 member panel must make a decision to add or reject the debilitating medical condition to the list of those permitted in the MMA within 60 days.

This bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law.  It will likely be the subject of contentious arguments between Democrats and Republicans and it is equally likely that the language in this proposal will undertake drastic changes.

 

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