LANSING (AP) – Democrats in the Michigan Senate first declined, then decided to give majority Republicans enough votes to make changes sought to the voter-approved medical marijuana law.
During marathon sessions late Thursday and early Friday, the Senate failed to pass bills by a necessary three-fourths vote requiring patients to show photo identification to get a medical marijuana card and clarify the type of doctor-patient relationship needed before marijuana use could be certified. But enough Democrats relented as the hours passed and switched their votes.
The House concurred and the bills were on the way to Gov. Rick Snyder.
The chamber also approved bills dealing with criminal guidelines for patients or caregivers selling marijuana to unauthorized users and transporting open medical marijuana in vehicles.
Two other bills have cleared the Legislature that allow insurance companies to deny coverage for medical marijuana and employers to refuse to reimburse medical marijuana costs through workers’ compensation.
Since the law was approved in 2008, even supporters have acknowledged that it wasn’t well-crafted. Marijuana dispensaries that sell pot have popped up around the state, although there’s no specific language that appears to allow them. A decision is pending by the Michigan Supreme Court.
More than 120,000 people with medical problems have state-issued cards allowing them to smoke marijuana or consume it as an ingredient in food. Another 25,000 people are registered caregivers who can grow marijuana for people approved to use it.
Republican Sen. Rick Jones said he was glad Democrats “finally came around” after initially blocking the bipartisan legislation passed in the House. Redford Township Democratic Rep. Philip Cavanaugh was among the legislation’s sponsors.
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