bill laitner

Michigan: Top State Regulator Rejects Medical Marijuana For Autism


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's top state regulator on Thursday rejected the advice of a state panel and refused to allow the use of medical marijuana to treat autism.

The decision followed a three-year struggle by parents of autistic children, their lawyers and patient advocates to have Michigan become the first state to specify marijuana as a treatment for autism, reports Bill Laitner at the Detroit Free Press.

Mike Zimmer, director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), claimed he was concerned that an approval wouldn't apply just to serious cases of autism, but to all cases. Zimmer said that parents applying to use medicinal cannabis would need the approval of two doctors, yet there was no requirement that either doctor be experienced in treating autism.

Zimmer said, in a four-page "Final Determination," that allowing medical marijuana for autism might do more harm than good to mildly affeted autistic children. That view followed uninformed, but damaging, testimony in Lansing by Dr. Harry Chugani, chief of pediatric neurology at Children's Hospital of Michigan, considered a national authority on autism but obviously who doesn't know much about cannabis.

"The vast majority of kids with autism do not need pot, and I won't sign for it," Chugani huffed last month. He said cannabis should be reserved for those with "very bad behaviors, aggression, meltdowns."

U.S.: Dr. Gupta Doubling Down On Medical Marijuana With Another Documentary


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Dr. Sanjay Gupta changed the landscape of the medical marijuana debate last year with his groundbreaking CNN documentary, "Weed," which drew attention everywhere from parents to the halls of Congress. At 10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, Dr. Gupta returns with a second, hour-long documentary on the health benefits of cannabis.

Dr. Gupta will narrate the show, which will include sick children and their parents struggling for safe access to medical marijuana despite legal barriers caused by state and federal laws. The show will also discuss how cannabis can ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, arthritis, cancer, epilepsy and other diseases.

"We think it'll be another big deal across our country, and hopefully even in other parts of the world where they are thinking about changing their laws," said Heidi Parikh of Romulus, Michigan, founder of the Michigan Compassion education groups, reports Bill Laitner at the Detroit Free Press.

"If you want to understand the science, this is something you'll want to watch," Dr. Gupta told the Free Press on Monday. "The drug continues to be unfairly rejected by most of the American medical establishment and by government drug regulators."

Michigan: Supreme Court To Eye Local Bans On Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Michigan Supreme Court is looking at a historic case that will determine whether Michigan communities can ban medical marijuana and possibly whether state residents can keep using cannabis at all for medicinal reasons.

Those united against medical marijuana patients include the State Bar of Michigan and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, both of which are trying to get the entire medical marijuana law thrown out, reports Bill Laitner at the Detroit Free Press.

That would cancel the wishes of the 63 percent of Michigan voters who approved the medical marijuana law in 2008, according to groups opposing the medical marijuana ban, which include the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the libertarian Cato Institute, based in Washington, D.C.

A few Michigan communities have passed bans on medical marijuana "that carry serious penalties, and that includes jail time," according to activist Tim Beck, 61, of Detroit. The ordinances "didn't even mention medical marijuana -- they just said that any activity that was illegal under federal law was also illegal in their community," Beck said.

The case stems from retired attorney John Ter Beek's 2010 lawsuit to overturn a medical marijuana ban in Wyoming, a suburb of Grand Rapids. Ter Beek is a state-registered medical marijuana patient with a paintful neurological disorder and diabetes, according to the lawsuit.

Michigan: Marijuana Legalization Activist's Arrest May Void Legalization Vote


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A man who went door-to-door this summer supporting a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in a Michigan town now faces felony charges of selling pot -- and his arrest could invalidate the election results this fall, according to city officials.

Andrew Cissell, 25, faces felony charges of marijuana delivery, reports Bill Laitner of the Detroit Free Press, and according to Cherilynn Brown, city clerk for the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, that could mean the votes don't count in November.

"It's going to be on the ballots," Brown said on Thursday. "They've already been printed."

Whether the legalization votes will count is up to Oakland County election authorities and prosecutors, according to Brown. The issue, she said, is that officials don't know whether Cissell was a resident of Ferndale when he circulated and filed the petitions.

Cissell registered a Ferndale address at a branch office of the Secretary of State on June 10, and started collecting signatures two days later, according to Brown. Evidence in the marijuana delivery investigation indicated Brown lived mainly in an Oak Park home that he owns, according to Ferndale Police Chief Tim Collins.

Michigan: Advocates Submitting Signatures To Decriminalize Marijuana In Three Cities


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana advocates in Michigan say they're excited about getting proposals on the November ballot in Ferndale and Jackson -- and possibly in Lansing -- to make possession of cannabis no worse than getting a traffic ticket.

"I have 600 signatures here," said Andrew Cissell, 25, of Ferndale on Tuesday morning, reports Bill Laitner of the Detroit Free Press. Cissell turned in a pile of petitions at the counter of City Clerk Cherilynn Brown -- almost double the number the proposal needed to qualify for the November ballot, Brown said.

"We will check these and then present them to City Council on August 12," Brown told Cissell as a crowd of supporters looked on.

"To me, this is a no-brainer," Cissell said. "If alcohol's legal, I think marijuana should be, too."

Activists in Jackson handed in petitions for a similar proposal to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis, according to Tim Beck, 61, of Detroit, chairman of the Safer Michigan Coalition.

"We have provided every signature, and our surveys show this is going to pass," Beck said. Beck, a retired CEO of an employee health insurance firm, has spent more than a decade advocating the legalization of marijuana.

Ferndale Police Chief Tim Collins sneered at the efforts, calling them "a waste of time." Possession of marijuana would still be illegal, Chief Collins said, "and the law's the law."

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