LANSING, Mich. — Members of Michigan Caregivers United gathered on the Capitol steps Wednesday to rally against a series of proposed changes to Michigan's cannabis laws that would limit the number of plants people with caregiver licenses could grow and require product testing, among other changes.
“I've been providing patients medicines, safe medicine here, legal medicine in the state of Michigan for eight years. Where are the rest of my patients supposed to go? Dispensary prices are unbelievably high," said Debra Young, a caregiver with five patients.
Right now caregivers are allowed to grow up to 72 plants for themselves and up to five registered medical marijuana patients. Rally attendees said there should be no changes to the current laws.
“Patients can't afford this. What's going to happen is caregivers are going to be forced underground and it's going to turn us into criminals again," Young said. "In Michigan, it's legal for medical marijuana and for recreational marijuana. We want no changes to the law.”
Michigan caregivers said that marijuana can often take the place of highly addictive opioids or other heavy-duty medications. Tanya Kaye attended the rally with her nine-month-old daughter Anastacia who suffers from seizures.
"Anastacia started consuming medical marijuana when she was three months old and she has been seizure-free since December," Kaye said.
Kaye said that the proposed bills are a threat to treating her daughter's condition.
"If we're only allowed to grow three plants for Anna's medicine we will not have enough plant product to make Anna's tincture or to make her cream and both of these products help her get a better quality of life," she said.
Lobbyists for the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association, which includes some of the largest commercial growers in the state, are arguing for mandatory product testing and reducing the number of cannabis plants a caregiver can grow.
"Two-thirds of the marketplace is this illicit gray market where the product is not being tested, it's not being labeled. It's not being tracked or potentially taxed to some level and we want to make sure that the products that are consumed are ones that have been tested," said Shelly Edgerton, board chair for the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association,.
Under current legislation, caregivers are allowed to provide marijuana products to their patients and they're not subject to the same licensing fees or regulations as larger marijuana companies.
If implemented the new laws would have a significant impact on caregivers and reduce competition for larger companies.
But Edgerton says the argument comes down to safety.
"I think Michigan Caregivers United would agree that we're all about the safety for our patients," she said.
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