Michigan bill calls for pharmacy medical marijuana dispensing

November 18, 2013

The Michigan Senate has approved a bill that would allow medical marijuana to be dispensed by pharmacies throughout the state. However, the vote by the Michigan senators is merely symbolic, as FDA would have to reclassify marijuana as Schedule II to allow such dispensing.

The Michigan Senate has approved a bill that would allow medical marijuana to be dispensed by pharmacies throughout the state. However, the vote by the Michigan senators is merely symbolic, as FDA would have to reclassify marijuana as Schedule II to allow such dispensing.

The Michigan legislation reclassifies medical-grade marijuana as a Schedule II controlled substance, which would clear the way for pharmacies to dispense it. FDA lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin, peyote, and LSD, which have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The bill also authorizes private facilities to grow and test the cannabis.

The Michigan bill was sponsored by Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw), a doctor who said patients using medical marijuana under the state’s 2008 law should have more ways of obtaining it. Right now, Michigan patients using medical marijuana obtain it from state-licensed growers.

“The idea is now that marijuana is considered a medicine ... there should be a medically reviewed way to get the product,” Sen. Kahn told the Detroit News. “Despite its initial presentation to our people as ‘medical,’ Michigan’s constitutional (marijuana) provision contains no patient protection standards and, in particular, no standards that will protect immunosuppressed patients from molds, pesticides, metals, or other contaminants commonly present in marijuana.”

Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) said Kahn’s real motivation was creating a business opportunity for Prairie Plant Systems, a Canadian biotechnology firm that produces medical marijuana.

“Since the passage of the public referendum to legalize marijuana for medical use in 2008, the Michigan legislature has tried and failed to regulate the industry in a way that accommodates patients while appeasing social conservatives,” Sen. Whitmer said. “The end result has been constant confusion and legal ambiguity and an array of red tape that has impeded Michigan’s sick from getting the treatment they need.”

The Michigan Pharmacists Association did not take a position on the legislation. It issued a statement that partially read: “Unlike other prescription medications that pharmacists provide for patients, marijuana has not gone through the rigorous studies on safety and effectiveness required to be approved by the FDA.”