The Livingston County Board of Commissioners heard concerns Monday night from a large group of card-carrying patients about a new grant-funded Medical Marihuana monitoring program.

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office received a grant award of $47,438 for education, communication and enforcement of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. This is the first time the Sheriff’s Office has applied for the grant and some language included was of concern to cardholders and caregivers. An estimated 1,800 people within Livingston County are medical marijuana cardholders. In an effort to ensure that cardholders are adhering to the law, the Sheriff’s Office established the oversight program funded by the 2017 Michigan Medical Marihuana Operation and Oversight Grant. The grant funds would provide electronic equipment, community education and communication resources. Among some of the concerning items patients found of serious concern were four Tasers listed in the grant budget, which will be removed. Those who spoke all raised questions about the constitutionality of potential home-compliance checks, concerns for their children and if they would be targeted. The majority were also leery of providing their last names for the meeting record and refused to do so.

Shannon who lives in Howell and was diagnosed in December of 2015 with stage 4 ovarian cancer. She told commissioners that without a specific type of oil, she probably would not be alive today- saying it allows her to get through the day without taking any kind of pharmaceutical drugs.

Another cardholder and mother named Jen from Brighton was worried about safety and privacy for fellow patients. She has a very rare genetic disorder and told commissioners she chooses cannabis over dangerous prescription drugs, which have become an epidemic locally, and feels grant funds could be put to better use. Jen pointed out there was $2,000 in the budget for educational sessions and literature – saying more was being spent on batteries than educational materials for the public and it’s disturbing. She feels the grant budget should be revised and that someone with knowledge needs to be educating the public – further commenting she does not want to be tasered.

Livingston County Undersheriff Jeff Warder told the crowd they respect and understand their concerns, which are legitimate. There are three prongs to the grant - education, communication and compliance – which he says is directed more “if and when” there are ever dispensaries in the county. Warder stated the number one priority is to educate the community so everyone is compliant and doing the right thing, but also make sure they’re here to help and support – not harass - those people who need marijuana for medical purposes.

A resolution was ultimately approved to proceed with the grant program, but Warder stressed the budget will be revised and future internal meetings are planned.

Commissioners sympathized with the concerns of patients who spoke out during call to the public, many of them terminally ill. Commissioner and retired Sheriff Bob Bezotte told WHMI he felt the pain of those who spoke and knows it firsthand, saying he has family members fighting the same battle and his heart goes out to them. He says the intent of the grant program is to educate the public - not knock on the doors of law abiding patients, although sometimes tips are received that must followed up on. (JM)