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Marijuana would be removed from Michigan’s drug schedule under new bill

A new bill, House Bill 5877, could remove marijuana from Michigan’s list of Schedule 1 substances.

As reported by Gus Burns with MLive:

Marijuana, despite being legal recreationally, remains categorized a schedule 1 drug in Michigan alongside certain opiates, ecstasy LSD and heroin.

New proposed legislation, House Bill 5877, named after longtime Ann Arbor marijuana legalization activist and poet John Sinclair, aims to change that.

“Cannabis is still a schedule 1 substance. Schedule 1 is the highest, most criminalized on the list of drugs,” said state Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, who sponsored the legislation. “Why? It’s legal, we’re using it medically, there’s adult use in the state that’s been approved by voters and yet we’re still listing it as a schedule 1 substance.”

Michigan law defines a schedule 1 drug as a substance that “has high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.”

Rabhi said marijuana’s designation as schedule 1 drug has broad implications, including on employment, guardianship, housing and criminal punishment. He presented examples of housing applications that prohibit tenants from using or possessing schedule 1 drugs, employment policies that do the same and sentencing guidelines that may be influenced by the drug’s scheduled status.

“And then there are things like Child Protective Services,” Rabhi said. “People who have been legal cannabis users, even medical users, it has been used in our CPS laws, because (they) reference our schedule of substances.”

The bill’s namesake, 80-year-old Sinclair, has advocated for marijuana legalization for greater than a half-century. He was sentenced to up to ten years in prison after being arrested in 1969 for possession of two marijuana joints, sparking a protest rally at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor on December 10, 1971. The rally featured a performance by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and contributed to Sinclair’s release from prison.

Sinclair and others with National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) of Michigan in 2019 sued the state, including the Board of Pharmacy, to have marijuana removed from the list of scheduled substances.

For various reasons, the lawsuit and a subsequent appeal failed.

The Court of Claims said legalization of a substance under certain circumstances doesn’t mean it can’t also be a controlled substance.

Rabhi said he’s been working on legislation to update Michigan’s drug schedule for several years and is optimistic it will be supported.

“We’ve had several meetings with our Republican colleagues to try and get some movement on this and we’re going to keep that effort going,” Rabhi said. “I think this is not a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats, both, are cannabis users. It’s not a partisan issue and it shouldn’t be.”

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