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Whitmer signs bills banning sale of ‘whip-its,’ expanding drug treatment options

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(The Center Square) – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bills that expand access to drug treatment options and ban the sale of “Whip-its” – nitrous oxide canisters available at grocery stores and gas stations that people huff to get high.

“When families are facing crises, we must have their backs and connect them with the resources and help that they need to get better,” Whitmer said in a statement. “With these commonsense, bipartisan bills, we’re establishing a family treatment court and creating a path to programs that tackle substance use disorder, protect children, and expand access to mental health resources.”

House Bill 4522, sponsored by Rep. Kelly Breen, D-Novi, gives the circuit courts the power to institute or adopt family treatment courts and framework for family treatment programs.

“Problem-solving courts are a fantastic model for people in the justice system who don’t need to be sequestered from society. However, the current legal framework for family treatment courts — housed under the drug court statute — doesn’t contain certain key aspects that make the model work,” Breen, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

HB 4524, sponsored by Rep. Joey Andrews, D-St. Joseph, will allow judges to review the circumstances and permit convicted participants of drug treatment programs to continue treatment. Under current law, if a participant in drug court programming is convicted of a felony for an offense that happened after their admittance into the program, their participation must be terminated.

“Allowing judges and prosecutors to take a holistic view of the individual’s circumstances will undoubtedly lead to better outcomes,” Andrews said in a statement.

Whitmer signed HB 4185 and HB 4190 to better protect Michigan workers who come into contact with asbestos on the job.

“There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, and as a carcinogen, it causes significant long-term health problems and can lead to fatal diseases,” bill sponsor Rep. Denise Mentzer, D-Mt. Clemens, said in a statement.

Whitmer also signed HB 4979 and 4857, which will remove a requirement for counties to hire a designated assessor. It will allow counties to provide an interlocal agreement from the board of commissioners.

“Counties across our state — including some in the U.P. — have a hard time keeping these assessor positions filled,” Rep. Jenn Hill, D-Marquette, said in a statement. “Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, this new law will let counties opt in to having an assessor appointed if they are having trouble getting the work done. We are easing a significant burden on local governments and saving taxpayer dollars.”

HB 4857 will remove milkweed from the list of exotic weeds.

Senate Bills 57 and 58 will ban the sale of items used to recreationally inhale nitrous oxide if the seller knows they will be used for those purposes.

Sen. Joseph Bellino, R-Monroe, sponsored SB 58.

“People are using charging canisters for the sole purpose of getting high,” Bellino said in a statement. “These new laws will address the problem by targeting those who are selling these canisters without selling whipping cream or dispensers for a legitimate use — stopping easy access by kids who use this gas like a drug.”

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