Medical marijuana bills remain stagnant in legislature

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A Lansing Township couple hopes for quick passage of two bills on medical marijuana that are stalled in the Michigan legislature.

Marilyn and Gerald Bracy have a strong opinion on House Bills 4271 and 5104 because they affect them on a personal level.

Earlier this year, Gerald Bracy was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome and is currently going through chemotherapy. He has lost over 60 pounds, which he said makes him feel weak.

Wife Marilyn said she wonders whether medical marijuana in some form could help her husband eat his way to a healthy weight, since the drug reputedly improves appetite in cancer patients.

The problem is that they would have to drive more than an hour to obtain the pills from a clinic since designated caregivers are limited to only five patients and the dispensaries closest to the couple are already full.

“Gerald needs something to help increase his appetite and medical marijuana seems to be the cure,” Mrs. Bracy said. “But we can’t be driving so far every time he needs a refill and we have no idea how to grow it. Unfortunately, it just isn’t practical.”

House Bill 4271, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Callton, would give local communities the power to allow, prohibit or limit medical marijuana “provisioning centers” giving patients like Mr. Bracy easier access to the drug.

Another problem is that Gerald doesn’t want to smoke the drug and is looking for a way to get the effects of medical marijuana without having to light up.

“I personally don’t see how inhaling smoke of any drug could be healthy,” Mr. Bracy said. “But if I could take it in a different form, I would feel a lot better about taking it.”

House Bill 5104, sponsored by state Rep. Eileen Kowall, would expand the definition of usable medical marijuana to allow for non-smokable forms of the drug, including edibles, tinctures and topical creams.

The two bills have passed the House and are now being considered in the Senate Government Operations Committee.

Montrose Mayor Ray Foust had the same concern as the Bracys about five years when he had to drive his cancer-stricken niece 80 miles each month to seek out medical marijuana. The experience led him and other city council members to approve a local dispensary in Montrose.

Foust, who testified before the Michigan Senate Government Operations Committee on Tuesday, just wants to help those in need. He said his niece was able to maintain a good quality of life with medical marijuana pills in the last year of her life.

“We don’t want to be known as the medical marijuana capital,” Foust said. “We want people to be able to get their medicine. That’s all.”

According to the Detroit Free Press, the outcome of the pair of bills clarifying Michigan’s medical marijuana law is still uncertain after more than an hour of testimony from both supporters and opponents of the legislation.

-Carley Johnston

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