Legislation is in the works that would allow pharmacies to sell medical marijuana.
The bill would essentially treat marijuana like any other prescription drug, which one pharmacist said takes the issue back to its roots.
â??Pharmaceuticals is founded on plants,â?? said Mark Thompson of Thompson Pharmacy. â??They find a chemical that works for a specific thing and they standardize what the active ingredient is.
State senators passed a bill that lays the groundwork for selling marijuana from Michigan pharmacies, but you won't be able to fill prescriptions any time soon.
â??They'd have to reclassify it because at this point it's still not legal federally. Obviously there's dispensaries in other states as well as Michigan,â?? said Thompson.
Marijuana is still federally labeled as a schedule one drug, along with substances like heroin, peyote, and LSD, which are all handled by government testing facilities.
The bill would pave the way for changes if, and only if, the classification change occurs on the federal level.
â??I think marijuana should be sold in pharmacies rather than places that aren't legalized,â?? said Carolina Barbosa from Traverse City. â??So people could have better control.â??
Thompson said there are benefits to putting the drug in pharmacies.
â??The clinician in me says yes, we would want to. We want to be involved in people's medical world,â?? explained Thompson.
Pharmacists keep track of patients and know their medications, which helps doctors too.
â??If they're using it, and it's working for them, it'd be better that their doctor knew,â?? said Thompson.
But the change could create problems, too.
â??The business owner and logistics person in me goes what a nightmare. I can't imagine the paperwork and electronic work. And the risk of having it, it's already risky with a pharmacy these days with the break-ins,â?? said Thompson.
Many people said they do not want to see marijuana in their neighborhood pharmacy.
â??I think it can still be regulated, but I don't think it belongs in that kind of facility,â?? said Gary Roberts from Kalkaska. â??I think that should be something totally separate from the rest of pharmaceutical products.â??
â??Leave marijuana where it belongs with the people want to grow it, smoke it,â?? said Debbie Steuber from Traverse City. â??I don't think they have any business in that. It's time to just be done with the whole ridiculous mess.â??
The bill passed in the senate by a vote of 22 to 16.
If the bill passes in the House, is signed by the governor, and marijuana is reclassified on the federal level, patients could stick with the current system or switch to the pharmacy method.