Detroit Free Press Staff Writer
What has been a standing joke in decades of comedy movies and college parties — marijuana brownies — became a serious matter to state Rep. Eileen Kowall when a family came to her with their sick child.The meeting led Kowall, R-White Lake, to introduce a bill last week that, in effect, makes marijuana brownies and other non-smoked forms of the drug legal medicine in Michigan.“People joke about marijuana brownies but this (subject) came to my attention recently when some families with sick children called me,” Kowall said. The families were upset by a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling in September that said smoking cannabis was virtually the only legal means for using the drug, she said.The decision stemmed from the case of a man, arrested while driving in Beverly Hills in 2011, who had in the back of his car brownies containing marijuana extract. It sent shock waves through Michigan’s community of more than 100,000 state-approved medical marijuana patients, many of whom rely on “medibles” — the nickname for health foods and extracts made of marijuana, according to groups such as Southgate-based Michigan Compassion.And it put the parents of pediatric users in a corner, unable to legally administer the drug in lozenges or via vaporizers that are less irritating than smoke to young lungs, Kowall said.The ruling also posed a problem for adult users of medical marijuana such as Pamela Brown, 57, of Riverview. The idea of smoking anything repels Brown but medical marijuana in other forms has been a godsend, allowing her to stop taking blood-pressure medicine and pain pills for her back pain, she said.“I juice it and I also make a lotion that I rub on my joints,” Brown said.“It’s sadly ironic that the people who need this medicine the most are the ones most affected by this bad court decision,” said Detroit lawyer Matt Abel, executive director of Michigan NORML, a group that seeks to legalize marijuana in Michigan.House Bill 5104 would add the words “plant resin or extract” to the definition of usable marijuana in Michigan’s medical marijuana act.And, in deciding whether a patient was within the legal limit of 2.5 ounces that state-approved users can possess, the law would no longer let police, prosecutors and judges count the weight of brownies, pop, lotion base, candy “or any inactive substance used as a delivery medium” against the limit, according to the bill’s language.