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Senate OKs Bill Letting Landlords Ban Medical Marijuana

LANSING (AP) - Landlords would have greater authority to ban tenants from smoking or growing medical marijuana under a bill that passed the state Senate on Tuesday.

The bill would amend Michigan's 2008 voter-passed medical marijuana law to prohibit smoking or growing medical marijuana on private property if the property owner won't allow it. The legislation also would ban smoking on private property that is open to the public.

It passed 31-7, surpassing the 29 votes needed to change a voter-approved law.

The law allows the possession, cultivation and use of limited amounts of marijuana for people suffering from debilitating conditions. It originally banned the use of medical marijuana in any public place, including on public transportation.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he introduced the bill to help owners whose houses and apartments are being damaged because of medical marijuana.

"Numerous property owners have come forward with tens of thousands of dollars of damage, from people making an entire house into a greenhouse," Jones said. "One district member came to me - his entire house was destroyed when 95 plants were being grown in the house."

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an opinion in 2011 at Jones' request stating that "an owner of a hotel, motel, apartment building or other similar facility" can ban smoking or growing marijuana in the facility under the medical marijuana act.

"A lot of police agencies don't know about Bill Schuette's ruling," Jones said in an interview. "There's confusion when they show up and a property owner says, `You've got to do something about this.' This (bill) would clarify for everybody that you can't do these two things."

Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, voted against the measure after the Senate blocked an amendment she proposed tying Jones' bill to House-approved legislation that would legalize edible forms of medical marijuana.

"If the argument today really is that we want people to be able to take their medicine, just not to smoke in property that they don't own but only rent, there's something that this chamber can do about it," Warren said.

She said in an interview that she opposed Jones' bill because it adds "limitations on how patients can take their medicine."

Jones said he would support legalizing edible medical marijuana because it is "probably much safer than smoking it and getting cancer," but the issue "had no business being attached to this bill."

The bill now moves to the House, where Jones says he is confident it will pass.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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