Big money behind Michigan bill to sell marijuana through pharmacies


Michigan state capitol.

As we told you earlier this month, a number of Republican Michigan state lawmakers have begun drumming up support for a bill that would allow medical marijuana to be sold through licensed pharmacies. All of that is dependent on the long shot that feds would reschedule cannabis. We called the bill a “load of crap” since it would force patients to give up their right to cultivate cannabis at home and said the whole thing reeks of big, corporate lobbying from pharmaceutical companies wanting to cash in on cannabis in a state that recently banned dispensaries.

Turns out we were right. Well, almost. It’s not big pharma, but Big Pot. It seems that Prairie Plant Systems, which at one point was the only legal provider of medical cannabis through Canada’s medical pot program, is lobbying hard for the Michigan bill according to the Detroit Free Press.
The plan, proposed by state Sens. Roger Kahn and Randy Richardville would create a new definition of “pharmaceutical grade” cannabis. Patients would be allowed to remain in the old system that does allow home cultivation or cultivation by a private caregiver but if they wanted access to “pharmaceutical grade” cannabis they would have to give up those rights.
“There are people out there growing things irresponsibly and people getting sick because of it,” Richardville said earlier this month, stretching the truth about as far as he possibly could.
Kahn also fronted the new form of pot paranoia as well: “The mold issue is serious, the pesticide issue is serious,” he said in committee earlier this month. “Both of those have the potential to be lethal”
While we admit the possibility is there, few people are likely truly getting sick from improperly-grown cannabis. At most they’re getting headaches. What these two who clearly don’t know anything about cannabis are doing is trying to scare people into their vote.
“It’s getting into school yards and school kids hands. I wouldn’t call that a system. I would call that a problem,” he added – ignoring the fact that irresponsible people could do the same thing with pot through his proposed system.
But man does it sound good to big business. Prairie Plant Systems has hired former Michigan state house speaker Chuck Perricone to help lobby for the bill. And in case you mistook his intentions, he spells them right out for you:
“The market for this is virtually untapped,” he told the Free Press. “The potential for the product is tremendous.”
Michigan activists, predictably, are all over this. “I’m not sure why a Canadian corporation can come in and try to buy our Legislature,” Charmie Gholson, founder of Michigan Moms United, told the Michigan Senate Government Operations Committee earlier this month.
Even fellow Michigan lawmakers are questioning the bill, though mostly because it is setting laws predicated on law changes at the federal level.
“It’s an unusual step for the Legislature to act in case something that may or may not happen in the federal government,” Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said. “The attorney general’s discretion is something very different from congressional approval.”
Thankfully, Michigan lawmakers will have a choice to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in a more traditional form this session as a second bill introduced by Rep. Mike Callton would give municipalities the right to license or ban dispensaries. Callton’s bill would not force cannabis through the pharmacies.