State takes second shot at forming marijuana panel – 3 years late

State takes second shot at forming marijuana panel – 3 years late

Lansing State Journal
Written by
Scott Davis

In December, a new state panel convened for the first time to consider
requests to add new eligible conditions for the use of medical
marijuana – three years after a statutory deadline elapsed to create
the board.

State officials now acknowledge there was a bureaucratic foul-up in
appointing the panel. They have dismissed its members, and are back to
square one.

Officials say it may take as long as six weeks to convene a new panel.

“We’re moving as quickly as can,” said Jeannie Vogel, spokeswoman for
the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which
oversees the panel.

But medical marijuana advocates say they are frustrated that the state
still does not have a mechanism for state residents to expand
eligibility for medicinal marijuana. Under the 2008 state law
authorizing medical marijuana – and approved by state voters in a
ballot measure – residents can use medical marijuana, with a doctor’s
approval, only for specific ailments, including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS
and Crohn’s disease.

“The state has dragged its feet terribly. Frankly, they have been
screwing around with it,” said Martin Chilcutt, a Kalamazoo man who
sued the state last year over the delay. “They don’t take the patients
into consideration.”

A Navy veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, Chilcutt filed a
petition with the state in 2010 requesting that post-traumatic stress
disorder be added as a qualifying condition. Chilcutt said he suffers
from the disorder because of his war-related service.

Chilcutt filed his lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court in October
2012, at the time that state officials say they were about to begin
the process of appointing the marijuana review panel. The 13-member
board convened for the first time Dec. 12.

In January 2013, Ingham County Circuit Judge Clinton Canady III
dismissed the lawsuit after state officials argued the issue had
become moot because the new panel was functioning.

But late last month, the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory
Affairs disbanded the panel because it was not formed correctly,
according to a letter sent to panel members obtained by the State

“It was an unfortunate oversight at the agency level,” but LARA did
identify and correct it,” said Ken Silfven, spokesman for Gov. Rick
Snyder. “We have established processes in place for a reason and it is
important for any established timeline to be met. But the main thing
is that the process is on track and a newly appointed panel will soon
begin its work.”

Vogel said the error occurred because LARA officials failed to appoint
enough members of the state’s Advisory Committee on Pain and Symptom
Management to the panel. Under administrative rules, the panel must
include seven members of the advisory committee – four of which are
licensed physicians and three of which are non-physicians.

The nine-member advisory committee, appointed by Snyder, studies
pain-management issues for the purpose of advising state lawmakers on
health-related legislation.

Matthew Abel, a Detroit attorney and medical marijuana advocate who
represented Chillcut, said he’s baffled by the bureaucratic error and
worries about further, extensive delays in expanding eligibility for
medical marijuana.

“It’s not rocket science,” Abel said of the administrative rules.
“It’s very clearly spelled out.”

According to state law, the state was supposed to form the review
panel by October 2009, but for unclear reasons, that was never done.
Vogel noted that the panel was the responsibility of the Gov. Jennifer
Granholm administration in 2009 and 2010, and that under the Snyder
administration, state licensing agencies went through a process of
reorganization and merger that became LARA in 2011.

Vogel said a final reorganization placed the Health Professions and
Health Systems bureaus under the newly created Bureau of Health Care
Services in LARA in October 2012, paving the way for the creation of
the marijuana review panel shortly later.

“With the new bureau and with the new leadership, we are moving
forward as quickly as possible to make sure all of these requirements
are met,” Vogel said.

Abel said he is disappointed that, in its four months of existence
from December to April, the review panel did not successfully
recommend for approval a single petition presented to the board. At
its last meeting April 4, the review panel recommended, by a 5-2 vote,
to add post traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s Disease to the
list of qualifying conditions.

But LARA denied the petitions May 9 because the five yes votes did not
constitute a quorum, according to departmental findings signed by
Steve Arwood, LARA’s director.

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  1. HCV should be on this list. I hope it is not being omitted on other levels. I have HCV it can not be mediated. It is very importaat to me that it not be omitted when diseases and disordered are mentioned.

  2. You guys are awesome! Just put HCV on the list…

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