Frequently asked questions regarding the MICHIGAN MEDICAL MARIHUANA ACT of 2008
Question: Why is marihuana spelled with an "h", rather than a "j", in Initiated Law 1 of 2008 and the administrative rules?
Answer: Marihuana is one of two acceptable spellings in the dictionary and is consistent with the spelling in the Michigan Public Health Code, Act 368 of 1978, and Initiated Law 1 of 2008.
Question: How do I register as a medical marihuana patient with the state?
Answer: "Qualifying patients" must register with the Michigan Department of Community Health, Bureau of Health Professions, P.O. Box 30083, Lansing, Michigan 48909.
To register, the patient must submit (on forms provided by the department) the following information:
(a) an application or renewal fee;
(b) the name, address, and birth date of the qualifying patient;
(c) the name, address, and telephone number of the qualifying patient's physician;
(d) the name, address, and birth date of the qualifying patient's caregiver, if any.
(e) written certification that the person is a qualifying patient.
Question: What medical conditions are eligible?
Answer: Patients must suffer from a debilitating medical condition, defined as:
(a) cancer, glaucoma, or positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, or nail patella.
(b) a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one of more of the following:
(i) cachexia or wasting syndrome;
(ii) severe and chronic pain;
(iii) severe nausea;
(iv) seizures, including but not limited to those caused by epilepsy; or
(v) severe or persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to, those which are characteristic of multiple sclerosis; or
(c) any other medical condition or treatment for a medical condition adopted by the department by rule. (NOTE: To date, the department has not added to the list by administrative rule.)
Question: Do any age limits apply?
Answer: Registered caregivers must be 21 or older. Patients under age 18 must have the consent of their parent or guardian responsible for medical decisions. The parent or guardian must be the registered caregiver of the minor patient.
Question: What is the fee to apply for participation in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP)? Are there any circumstances under which the fee can be reduced?
Answer: The fee for a new or renewal application is $100.00, unless a qualifying patient can demonstrate his or her current eligibility in the Medicaid Health Plan or receipt of current SSD or SSI benefits, in which case the application fee is $25.00.
Question: I don't have the money for the registration fee. Is it a one-time payment? Can it be waived? Can I make installment payments?
Answer: Full payment, by check or money order, must be made at the time of the initial application and at renewal each year. The fee cannot be waived, and the department cannot accept installment payments.
Question: Why do I need to have a physician sign and date a "Physician Certification" form? Why can't I just provide my medical records?
Answer: According to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), a physician must state in writing that the patient has a qualifying debilitating medical condition and that medical marihuana may mitigate the symptoms or effects of that condition. The MMMP contacts each physician during the application process to verify the patient is under the physician's care. A signed and dated "Physician Certification" must be current within 3 months of the date of a person's new or renewal application.
Question: Can the MMMP refer me to a physician?
Answer: No. The MMMP does not serve as a referral source. Any Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) licensed in Michigan can recommend a patient for the program.
Question: Why are only MDs (Medical Doctors) and DOs (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) qualified to sign the "Physician Certification"? Why not chiropractors, physician's assistants or nurse practitioners? Does the physician have to be licensed in Michigan?
Answer: The MMMA states that a "physician" means a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) licensed under Article 15, Parts 170 and 175 of the Michigan Public Health Code. MDs and DOs are the physicians licensed under these parts. The law also specifies that a physician must be licensed in Michigan. The MMMP verifies with the Board of Medicine or Board of Osteopathic Medicine that each patient's attending physician has a valid license to practice medicine in Michigan and has no disqualifying restrictions.
Question: Can I have someone else sign and date my application (a "proxy") if I am physically unable to do so?
Answer: Yes, as long as the individual signing your application identifies him or herself as your proxy next to his or her signature on your application or has provided documentation showing guardianship or power of attorney.
Question: What happens to my application once I mail it? What if I don't send in all the required parts of my application?
Answer: The MMMP has 15 days to review your application to make sure it is complete and all parts are current. If your application is complete, your registry identification card will be issued within 5 days after the MMMP verifies the information on your application. If you don't send in all the required parts of your application, the application will be denied.
Question: Do I need to keep a copy of my application and any other information I send to the MMMP?
Answer: Yes. If your application has not yet been approved, denied or terminated you may provide law enforcement with a copy of your written documentation submitted to the department; you must also submit proof of the date of mailing or other transmission of the documentation. This documentation shall have the same legal effect as a registry identification card, until such time as you receive your card or you have received notification that your application has been approved, denied or terminated.
Question: Who has access to the patient registry list?
Answer: The state will maintain a confidential list of "qualified patients" and "approved caregivers" to whom the department has issued registry identification cards. Individual names and other identifying information on the list must be confidential and is not subject to disclosure, except to:
(a) authorized employees of the department as necessary to perform official duties of the department; or
(b) authorized employees of state or local law enforcement agencies, only as necessary to verify that a person is a lawful possessor of a registry identification card.
Question: Is my confidentiality protected?
Answer: Yes. The MMMP does not give out lists of patients or caregivers. Law enforcement personnel may contact the MMMP only to verify if a patient or caregiver registration card is valid. The MMMP will tell law enforcement staff if the patient or caregiver is registered. The MMMP will disclose patient information to others only at the specific written request of the patient. MMMP computer files are secure and paper files are kept locked when not in use.
Question: Can a patient withdraw from the program?
Answer: Yes. A patient must submit a written statement that he or she wishes to withdraw from the MMMP. The MMMP will request that all cards be returned and the file will be closed. The patient's card and all cards associated will be voided. It is the responsibility of the patient to notify his or her caregiver, if applicable, that his or her card is no longer valid. It is the patient's responsibility to collect all cards associated with his or her patient card and return them to the Department. If the Department is notified by the patient that he or she would like to withdraw from the program, the Department shall notify the primary caregiver by mail at the address of record informing the caregiver that his or her card is no longer valid and must be returned to the Department within fourteen (14) calendar days. All cards must be returned to the Department within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date that the Department was notified of withdrawal. If the patient so chooses he or she may reapply as a new patient at any time. In order to reapply a patient must submit the required documentation and application fee.
Question: Do patients get a refund if they withdraw from the program?
Answer: Yes and no. No refund will be given for patients who withdraw once their cards have been issued. A refund may be given to a patient who withdraws before cards are issued.
Question: Do I have to tell the MMMP if I change my mailing address or change my designated primary caregiver?
Answer: The answer to these questions is "yes". You are required to tell the MMMP in writing of any such changes within 14 days of the change. The MMMP does not accept changes of information over the telephone. The MMMP only accepts written changes about the patient's name, the patient's address, the patient's telephone number, the patient's physician, or the patient's primary caregiver. There is a $10.00 fee for issuance of a new registry card. Your new card reflects the changes you have requested. Your changes will be made in our computer database and will be put in your file. You will be protected from civil and criminal penalties for these changes. If you change your caregiver, you will be asked to return your old caregiver card within 14 days.
Question: Do I get a prescription from my doctor?
Answer: The federal government classifies marihuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which means that licensed medical practitioners cannot prescribe it. Your physician must provide written certification of a "debilitating medical condition" and can only recommend the use of medical marihuana.
Question: Where do I get the seeds or plants to start growing medical marihuana?
Answer: The MMMP is not a resource for the growing process and does not have information to give to patients.
Question: Why can't I go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for medical marihuana?
Answer: Pharmacies can only dispense medications "prescribed" by licensed physicians. The federal government classifies marihuana as a Schedule I drug, which means licensed physicians cannot prescribe it.
Question: Can doctors get in trouble for discussing medical marihuana?
Answer: Not under Michigan state law. A physician may not be arrested, prosecuted or penalized in any manner, or be denied any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by the Board of Medicine or Board of Osteopathic Medicine.
Question: I am too ill to grow my own medical marihuana. What can I do?
Answer: The MMMA provides for a system of designated caregivers. The caregiver can acquire 2.5 ounces of usable marihuana and grow up to 12 marihuana plants for a qualifying patient. The caregiver may assist up to 5 patients. The caregiver must sign a statement agreeing to provide marihuana only to the qualifying patients who have named the individual as their caregiver. The caregiver's name, address, birth date and social security number must be provided to the state at the time of a patient's registration. The Department will issue a registry identification card to the caregiver who is named by a qualifying patient on his/her application. The Department may not issue a registry identification card to a proposed caregiver who has previously been convicted of a felony drug offense. The Department will verify through a background check with the Michigan State Police that the designated caregiver has no disqualifying felony drug conviction. A caregiver may receive reasonable compensation for services provided to assist with a qualifying patient's medical use of marihuana.
Question: Who can ingest medical marihuana?
Answer: Under the MMMA, only a person with a qualifying debilitating medical condition who has obtained a valid MMMP card is exempt from criminal laws of the state for engaging in the medical use of marihuana as justified to mitigate the symptoms or effects of the person's debilitating medical condition.
Question: How are the laws and rules of the MMMA enforced?
Answer: The MMMP enforces the registration process making sure applications are complete before issuing a registry identification card, terminating incomplete or fraudulent applications, and revoking cards if individuals commit violations of the MMMA. The MMMP verifies the validity of a registration card of patients and caregivers with local and state law enforcement personnel if they call the MMMP requesting such information. Local and state law enforcement personnel may take any action they believe is necessary to enforce the criminal laws of the state, including violations of the MMMA. Local and state law enforcement actions may vary. The MMMP has no authority to direct the activities of local and state law enforcement agencies.
Question: Can the MMMP give me legal advice?
Answer: No. If you have questions concerning compliance with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, you may wish to consult with an attorney.
Question: Will paraphernalia associated with my medical use be protected?
Answer: Yes, in Section 4 of the MMMA, asserting medical use of your "paraphernalia relating to the consumption of marihuana" is an affirmative defense.
Question: Can the police search me just for having a patient registry card?
Answer: No, not under Michigan law. Possession of, or application for, a registry identification card does not alone constitute probable cause to search the person or property of the person possessing or applying for the registry identification card or otherwise subject the person or property to inspection by any governmental agency, including a law enforcement agency.
Question: Will my medical insurance cover medical marihuana?
Answer: Probably not. The MMMA does not require a government medical assistance program or commercial or non-profit health insurer to reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of marihuana.
Question: Can I use medical marihuana at work?
Answer: This is up to the employer. Even if you are a registered patient, your employer may still prohibit medical marihuana use in the workplace.
Question: If I live in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or a retirement home, can I consume medical marihuana?
Answer: Presuming you are registered with the state patient registry and carrying your registry identification card, the law does not specifically prohibit the use of medical marihuana in those settings. However, the facility or home may have prohibitions. Therefore, you must verify with the facility if using medical marihuana is permitted and under what circumstances or conditions.
Question: Where can I consume medical marihuana?
Answer: Presuming you are registered with the state patient registry and carrying your registry identification card, you may consume medical marihuana on your property or elsewhere. However, the law does not permit any person to do any of the following:
(1) Undertake any task under the influence of marihuana, when doing so would constitute negligence or professional malpractice.
(2) Possess marihuana, or otherwise engage in the medical use of marihuana:
(a) in a school bus;
(b) on the grounds of any preschool or primary or secondary school; or
(c) in any correctional facility.
(3) Smoke marihuana:
(a) on any form of public transportation; or
(b) in any public place.
(4) Operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat while under the influence of marihuana.
Question: I live within 1000 feet of a school, AKA a "drug free zone". Can I still grow and/or possess my medical marihuana there?
Answer: The MMMA does not address this issue. You may wish to contact an attorney about this issue.
Question: Do I have to tell my landlord that I am a patient in the MMMP? Can my landlord evict me if I am a patient in the MMMP and have my grow site in my rental housing? Can I live in subsidized housing and be a patient in the MMMP?
Answer: It is up to you to decide whether or not to tell your landlord that you are a patient in the MMMP. Nothing in the MMMA specifically addresses whether or not you can be evicted because you are a patient in the MMMP, even if you have only the amount of medical marihuana allowed by law. Nothing in the MMMA specifically addresses whether or not a person can be an MMMP patient and live in subsidized housing. If you have questions about these important issues, you may wish to talk to an attorney to learn about your rights and protections.
Question: What should I tell my employer if I am subjected to a drug test?
Answer: The MMMA states that employers are not required to accommodate employees who use medical marihuana. You may wish to consult an attorney about whether or not to tell your employer that you are a patient in the MMMP. A patient may contact the MMMP in writing to ask the program to release information about the patient's registration to an employer.
Question: Can I use marihuana while on parole/probation if I have an MMMP card?
Answer: The authorities that are responsible for your probation/parole/post-prison supervision can impose restrictions on your possession and use of medical marihuana as a condition of your supervision, even if you have a valid MMMP card. Most offenders' supervision is subject to an "obey all laws" condition. Since marihuana possession and use is illegal under federal law, supervisory authorities can sanction an offender for possessing marihuana, even if he or she has an MMMP card. Sanctions could result in your arrest and return to jail. If you are on probation, parole, post-prison supervision, or other form of conditional supervision for conviction of a crime, you should consult with your parole and probation officer regarding whether your possession or use of marihuana may subject you to sanction for violation of the conditions of your supervision." The MMMP will revoke the card of a cardholder if a court issues an order that prohibits the cardholder from participating in the medical use of marihuana or otherwise participating in the MMMP.
Question: I am a valid medical marihuana patient under another state's law. Am I protected?
Answer: Yes, under Section 4(j) of the MMMA, a registry identification card or its equivalent issued by another state government to permit the medical use of marihuana by a qualifying patient or to permit a person to assist with a qualify patient's medical use of marihuana has the same force and effect as a registry identification card issued by the Department.
Question: Is the MMMA recognized by other states? Can I travel to another state with medical marihuana and my MMMP registry identification card and not be arrested or charged with civil or criminal penalties?
Answer: At this time, the MMMP is not aware of any "reciprocity" agreements with any other states to honor the Michigan law. This includes even those states that have medical marihuana laws of their own, such as Washington and California. Because medical marihuana programs vary by state, you may want to contact the state you are traveling to for information on their laws.
Question: Can patients form growing cooperatives?
Answer: The law does not address this. Consult with your local law enforcement officer or personal attorney.
Question: How do I become a caregiver?
Answer: The MMMA defines a "Primary Caregiver" as a person who is at least 21 years old and who has agreed to assist with a patient's medical use of marihuana and who has never been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs. Therefore, the qualifying patient (applicant or registrant) and you must complete a "Caregiver Attestation" to be submitted by the qualifying patient.