National Patients' Rights Association Opposes House Bill 5681 As A Result Of Potential Risks To Caregiver System

DETROIT, June 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Patients' Rights Association  (NPRA)—a Michigan-based alliance of leading medical marijuana advocates working to protect patient rights—today announced opposition to a proposed administrative change to the public health code that could negatively impact patients and caregivers.  House Bill 5681, introduced under the guise of helping ensure the quality and purity of medical marijuana, would essentially lead to the equivalent of a big box retailer opening next door to a small family-owned business.

"HB 5681 is simply an attempt by corporate enterprise to completely undermine the spirit of Michigan's Medical Marihuana Act by changing various structures of the law in a manner that could harm patients and caregivers," said NPRA spokesman Adam Macdonald.  "While we agree with the general spirit of quality standards and testing options for medical marijuana, we completely disagree with how these changes have been proposed. In fact, all of the proposed quality measures have already been clearly addressed in the HB 5580 that was just introduced by Representative Mike Callton on May 1, 2012.  We urge Representative John Walsh of the House Judiciary Committee to take action on HB 5580 as we feel in concept, it is definitely in the right direction and ultimately puts patients ahead of large scale drug companies."

HB 5681 is fundamentally flawed.   The proposed changes attempt to regulate medical marijuana as a "pharmaceutical grade" medicine as opposed to the herbal plant, which is what Michigan voters approved. This proposed action is completely inaccurate because medical marijuana is a natural plant, opposed to an isolated substance (such as the drug dronabinol). The US Pharmacopeia (USP) publishes official monographs for certain substances, including specific assay methods and product specifications to assure identity and potency. Material that is tested by these methods to meet those specifications is then eligible to be called "pharmaceutical grade," or USP (http://www.usp.org/aboutUSP). Many natural ingredients, such as the whole marijuana plant, do not have published USP monographs, so cannot be called USP grade, since no USP specifications or standards exist to test against.

"We have already watched a very similar strategy play out in the dietary supplement industry in which the pharmaceutical businesses have continued trying to put manufacturers out of business, drastically raise costs, and limit access by lobbying for regulation that requires them to have the same quality control as medical drugs," said Macdonald. "Unfortunately, this time, it is patients and caregivers they are looking to 'put out business,' raise costs on, and limit access.

"HB 5681 also would allow a foreign business enterprise to participate in the Michigan Medical Marijuana program.  Not only would any potential revenue leave Michigan, it wouldn't even stay in the United States.  If a foreign entity wants to grow medical marijuana for pharmaceutical companies to make prescription drugs, that's fine, but HB 5580 and the current caregiver system can more than adequately satisfy the needs of patients."

The NPRA is backed by patients, caregivers, businesses and a range of other supporters.  Collectively, the coalition is working to broaden awareness, reach legislators in a targeted manner, and help mobilize patients and caregivers who are affected by current and proposed medical marijuana laws.  A key objective of the coalition is a push for definitive regulation in terms of standardization — ranging from safety and storage needs, document management requirements, privacy, and overall industry standards and procedures.   

For more information please visit: www.nprausa.comYou can also call 1-855-444-6772 for information on how to contact your state representative.

SOURCE National Patients’ Rights Association



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