Cannabis caregivers, advocates, businesses and supporters from across the country have come together to create a new Michigan MMJ group that works to protect the rights of medical marijuana users in all states that have passed pot laws.
The National Patients Rights Association, or NPRA, pitches itself as a cannabis coalition set up to “encourage legislators, prosecutors and local governments to fully honor the decision of voters that enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana in 16 states and the nation’s capital.”
More specifically, the group’s primary goal is to persuade states to set up a standardized regulatory framework that includes everything from storage and safety rules to document management and privacy policies. Medical cannabis laws different greatly by state, and even by city and county within the same state. That’s created a ton of confusion for patients, caregivers and MMJ dispensaries. Just trying to figure out – and stay on top of – the regulations is often half the battle. At the same time, cities and states change and tweak medical pot laws constantly, adding to the frustration of the marijuana community.
The cannabis coalition points to Colorado as an example of how a state can create a strong, effective regulatory system, where dispensaries are taxed and oversight is strong.
“The reality is that not all patients and their caregivers have the interest, resources or skills to carefully grow therapeutic-grade medical marijuana. These patients need safe access to medical marijuana that meets the therapeutic objectives of their licensed health care practitioners,” said Paul Tylenda, an attorney in the Michigan area. “The Colorado model combines maximal benefit for patients, tax revenue generation and appropriate regulation of the program.”
The NPRA hopes to achieve its goals by broadening awareness of medical marijuana issues, lobbying legislators and uniting cannabis patients, dispensaries and caregivers.
The group is based in Michigan, which is fitting because the state has largely backtracked on the cannabis issue after voters approved the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act in 2008 by a wide margin. The legislation cleared the way for the launch of MMJ dispensaries in the state, and a burgeoning marijuana industry cropped up. But Michigan – led by the state’s attorney general – has reversed course over the past year and cracked down on cannabis businesses. As a result, hundreds of dispensaries have closed, and the state’s pot community is crumbling.
The NPRA will initially concentrate its efforts in Michigan. It believes that the state and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette are using up vital public resources, focusing residents to turn to unsafe sources of marijuana and politicizing discussions about health care. The marijuana group will also target other states, particularly those where the local medical marijuana industry is under attack.