Senate panel approves measure banning marijuana bars, clubs

LANSING — Legislation banning the organization and operation of marijuana bars and clubs in Michigan was approved by a Senate panel Thursday, said sponsor Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

Senate Bill 17, which would prohibit marijuana bars or clubs from forming, was approved by the Senate Health Policy Committee.

“Nobody should be using medical marijuana and then getting in a car and driving away,” Jones said. “Lots of people use prescription vicodin for pain, but we don’t have vicodin clubs. My measure will help ensure that people using medical marijuana do so more safely.”

SB 17 defines marijuana bars and clubs as property where medical marijuana is used for a paid fee. Violators of the proposed law would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison or a maximum fine of $500.

Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan, the use of marijuana and its possession remains illegal in Michigan for residents who are not qualified registered individuals. Additionally, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and doctors are not allowed to prescribe it for treatment – meaning the production or use of marijuana, even for medical purposes, can be prosecuted by the federal government.

The proposed law would not impact hospices or nursing homes.

“This is an issue of public health and safety,” said Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee. “The establishment of marijuana clubs could endanger those who visit them as well as the general public.”

SB 17 will now go before the full Senate for further consideration.