Appeals court: It’s OK to share small amounts of medical pot

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network
The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled medical marijuana users may share small amounts of pot without running afoul of state law. But that’s only if no money changes hands.
Courts have been busy filling gaps in Michigan’s medical marijuana law since it was approved by voters in 2008. 
In this case, Tony Green’s defense against drug delivery charges was that he shared, without compensation, a small amount of pot with another legally registered medical marijuana user. The appeals court said that is allowed under the medical marijuana act. 
The decision could be appealed to the state Supreme Court, which has already ruled patient-to-patient marijuana sales are illegal. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a couple more medical marijuana decisions in the near future, including one on whether the law permits dispensaries that charge some kind of fee. 

Copyright 2013, MPRN

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Whitmer not running for governor in 2014

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network
We can remove state Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer from the list of potential challengers to Republican Governor Rick Snyder next year.  
Senator Whitmer was widely seen as a likely prospect to take on Governor Snyder. She’s been one of his most frequent and vocal critics. But in an e-mail blast, and a video posted on her Facebook page, Whitmer said a hard-fought campaign would take too much time and attention away from her two young daughters. 

“The commitment to mount a successful gubernatorial campaign is going to require the time and energy like none we’ve ever seen before.” Whitmer said,
Whitmer said she remains committed to helping Democrats next year, including the party’s gubernatorial nominee. There is still plenty of time to choose one. The Democratic and Republican primaries are not until August of next year. Governor Snyder has said he intends to seek another term. 
Copyright 2013, MPRN

Low interest loans offered through Michigan Saves Program

BY JESI MUNGUIA
The nonprofit, Michigan Saves, is expanding to offer services statewide after focusing efforts in the Detroit area. 
The organization offers a low interest loan program, meant to, they say, lower expenses and improve energy efficiency. 
The startup was in 2010, since then, Michigan Saves has served more than 2,000 homeowners across the state. The result, savings up to $450 per month on utility bills.
Julie Metty Bennett, Executive Director of Michigan Saves, said the current focus is on businesses in particular the food industry.
“Think about a grocery story when you walk in, there’s all this open refrigeration so we’ve got equipment that they can install to put covers over night. They’re able to access even more affordable financing  and if they’re able to reduce their energy consumption by 20 percent, they get $2,000 cashback from their project.” Bennett said.
Bennett said, one business saved $25,000 in energy efficiency savings for one year and $11,000 in utility rebates. 

CMU dedicates new display honoring Saginaw Chippewa Tribe

BY AMANDA HARRISON
Central Michigan University has dedicated a new display commemorating the history and culture of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. 
Frank Cloutier is a spokesman for the tribe. He said he’s happy with the relationship the tribe and the university has built over the years.
“It’s a perfect depiction or representation if you will of a university that gets the culture of its people, that realizes we’re not mascots, we’re human beings with a very rich, proud culture.” Cloutier said.
The exhibit focuses on the tribe’s history, and its relationship with nature. It can be seen in the CMU Events Center.  

Clergy call on state lawmakers to address gun violence

BY JAKE NEHER
Michigan Public Radio Network

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A group of Michigan clergy wants state lawmakers to drop a number of pro-gun bills. Faith leaders held a prayer service Tuesday at the state Capitol to protest the measures.
Clergy members sang hymns as they marched to the Capitol. Each held a yellow card with the name of a child from their community killed by gun violence.
Ken Boykins is a pastor in Flint.
“We’re going to fill the heavens, the atmosphere with prayers. We mean business. We’re not going to back off. And something has to be done.” Boykins said.
The group said it’s most worried lawmakers will again take up legislation that would allow concealed weapons in places like churches and schools. 
Governor Snyder vetoed the measure late last year. But lawmakers could reintroduce similar legislation as early as this week. Supporters say it would make communities safer.
Copyright 2013, MPRN

SoS: No change planned during driver’s license policy review

BY RICK PLUTA
Michigan Public Radio Network
No immediate changes are planned to a state policy that denies driver’s licenses to people who were brought to the U.S. as young children by illegal immigrants. That’s despite a recent change to federal rules that said they are here legally and entitled to drive.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office said Michigan’s policy is under review, but there’s no timeline on when that will be completed. Gisge Gendreau is Johnson’s spokeswoman.
“We’re having discussions with our attorneys and we will move as quickly as we can.” Gendreau said.
“This policy is depriving thousands of children of immigrants in this state from driving to work and driving to school.” She said.
Kary Moss of the American Civil Liberties Union said the new federal guidelines are clear. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit demanding that Michigan start issuing the driver’s licenses right away.
Copyright 2013, MPRN

State leaders question plan to divide Michigan’s electoral votes

BY JAKE NEHER
Michigan Public Radio Network
A plan to split up Michigan’s electoral votes seems to be losing support from key Republican leaders in Lansing.
Under the measure, Michigan’s Electoral College votes for president would be given out based on which candidate wins each congressional district.
State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said the current winner-take-all system makes more sense.
“I think it makes Michigan a bigger, more important player. And it also divides the state as to, we have one winner, not a winner and a kind of winner.” Richardville said.
Governor Rick Snyder also told Bloomberg TV he does not think this is the right time to consider the idea. He said it would be more appropriate right before the next census. That’s when the state re-draws its congressional districts.
Supporters of the plan say it would give people in some parts of the state a bigger voice.
Copyright 2013, MPRN