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House OK’s driving with medical pot for patients

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — The state House on Thursday approved a bill that would repeal state regulations on how patients and caregivers transport medical marijuana.

Even though patients are allowed to use medical marijuana, a conflicting section of state law could be interpreted as making it illegal to transport medical marijuana unless it’s packed away in the trunk or an inaccessible container. That’s the case even for legal patients and caregivers with medical marijuana licenses, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis.

In a bid to correct this, House lawmakers overwhelmingly voted 104-3 without debate to scrap that section of state law. The plan — backed by the Michigan State Police — would still need to be adopted by the Senate and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder before becoming law.

It now moves to the Senate.

Proponents of the legislation sponsored by Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, say that because transporting pot is already illegal for people who aren’t licensed caregivers or patients, there’s no need for it.

The House plan lets caregivers and patients transport “usable marijuana” without fear of legal retribution. State statute defines that as dried leaves, flowers, plant resin or extract from the plant. It does not include seeds, stalks or roots.

A violation of the proposed legislation could lead to up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

“The bill would simply repeal a statute that a higher court has ruled does not apply to a medical marihuana patient or caregiver who is in compliance with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act,” the Fiscal Agency analysis said.

But critics say marijuana is not legal so it should not be transported in the same way that pharmaceutical drugs can be moved from place to place.