Last week, a Michigan Senate Committee approved a bill that would, if passed, potentially lead to medical cannabis sales through local pharmacies. Although it's unlikely, at least in the short term, that the federal government would move marijuana out of it’s current Schedule I classification to make such distribution possible, the efforts of corporate industry and US lawmakers to move things in this direction may well be a preview of what's to come.

 “Marijuana, if it’s to be medical marijuana, should be held to the standard of medical safety [and] dosage predictability,” according to Saginaw Township Republican Roger Kahn, a state senator and cardiologist. “Our medical marijuana [system] does neither of those. Yet it uses the word ‘medical’ predominantly or prominently in its claims.”

Michigan voters first approved medical cannabis in 2008, including self-cultivation and marijuana supplied by care-givers. Certainly some of the 129,000 residents currently enrolled in the program would like access to cannabis grown to pharmaceutical standards, but it's important to note that pressure for this new plan isn't coming from patients. According to the Associated Press, “Prairie Plant Systems Inc., which has been the Canadian government’s sole supplier of medical marijuana for 13 years, is lobbying for the legislation with help from former House Speaker Chuck Perricone.”

Through a Michigan subsidiary called SubTerra, Prairie Plant Systems (PPS) wants to produce medical cannabis in an abandoned copper mine. Earlier this year, PPS was awarded the only two licenses to grow medical marijuana in Canada as part of a new system that eliminates home cultivation entirely. Giving PPS a monopoly on production after more than a decade of growing what Canadians for Safe Access describe as a terrible, potentially dangerous product. And they've got the science to prove it.

 “CSA's first independent cannabinoid tests were conducted in early September of 2003, and the results showed the PPS product to have just over 3% THC, rather than the 10% THC claimed by both Health Canada and PPS,” the group wrote in an open letter addressed to Canada's medical cannabis community that also alleged high levels of heavy metals and mold. “PPS and Health Canada have never identified the root cause of this high level of contamination, nor have they acknowledge or sought to address the significant concerns over the potentially deleterious effects it may have on the end-users of the PPS product.”

Ironically, given lawmakers stated reasons for supporting the bill, the report also claimed that PPS cannabis was grown in an abandoned mine with massive contamination of air, water and soil.

So are they really a better option than empowering Michigan's family farmers to grow this lifesaving crop to the highest standards, creating green jobs right here in America?