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On April 1st, 2013 the changes to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act take effect, including extending the one-year registry cards to two years and established rules for doctor-patient relationship for medical-marijuana users.

The use of medical marijuana was endorsed by voters in 2008 to alleviate side effects of certain illnesses, like cancer or chronic pain. One of the most drastic changes defines the type of doctor-patient relationship needed before medical marijuana use can be permitted.

(Related: Legal Prescreen)

Democratic Rep. Phil Cavanagh of Redford Township in Wayne County, who sponsored one of the bills, said lawmakers were concerned that the certificates were given out without proper verification.

Under HB 4851 doctors must complete face-to-face medical evaluations of patients, review their relevant medical records, and assess their medical condition and history. In addition, the amendments require a follow-up with patents after providing the certification to determine whether the use of medical marijuana is successfully treating the illness. Cavanagh said this prevents “some out-of-state doctor from coming in, renting a hotel room, writing these things and then leaving town.”

(Related: How to Become a Registered Qualifying Patient Under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act)

The new standards will benefit patients and doctors by clearly outlining the expectations throughout the certification process.

Other changes include the time that a state-issued card is valid for — Michigan Medical Marijuana Registry Identification cards will be good for two years under HB 4834. Applicants must also provide proof of residence in the form of a driver’s license, or state ID, to get the registry identification cards.

(Related: Are Dispensaries Legal In Michigan?)

Currently, there are more than 131,000 registered medical-marijuana patients in the state. Another 27,000 are caregivers, or individuals who are permitted to grow marijuana for up to five people.

Under HB 4851 caregivers will now be disqualified if they have committed a felony within the last 10 years or have ever committed an assault. The only previous requirement was that caregivers could not have been previously convicted of a drug felony.  As a result, some patients will lose their caregiver and be forced to find a new one.

One of the amendments approved by lawmakers, HB 4856, regards the transportation of Medical marijuana. Medical-marijuana users are now required to store their pot in a case in a trunk while riding in a motor vehicle. If the vehicle does o’t have a trunk, the marijuana must be in a case that’s not readily accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

Even after these changes a number of major questions are presented within the state’s medical-marijuana system. In January, the state Supreme Court ruled that many so-called medical-marijuana dispensaries immune from prosecution based on section 4 of the MMMA.

However, last month Republican Rep. Mike Callton of Nashville introduced a bill to legalize the shops, which would result in more changes to the medical-marijuana law.

Rudoi Law offers expertise in the new legal field surrounding the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. Before you act under the MMMA, we strongly encourage you to have a legal consultation to steer clear of known problems.

Whether you’re a patient needing medical marijuana or a considering becoming a medical marihuana provider, Rudoi Law can help you navigate the shifting, uncertain terrain. We can advise you on the registrations needed and the restrictions proscribed by the Michigan Legislature.

We can also advise you on the prevailing attitudes of prosecutors in your area and what to do in the event you are confronted by law enforcement.

Remember: being confronted by the police about medical marihuana is a real possibility and could have serious consequences. You need to be prepared to defend yourself from overzealous officials.

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