Michigan Readies for Medical Pot Use
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Michigan Readies for Medical Pot Use
Posted by CN Staff on April 01, 2009 at 04:54:24 PT
By Charlie Cain, Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Source: Detroit News
Lansing, MI --  Lynn Allen is busy squirreling away marijuana seeds - at $5 a shot - as he prepares to take advantage of a new state law that will allow seriously or terminally ill patients to legally smoke pot to ease their pain and suffering.The 52-year-old married father of two from Williamston is confined to a wheelchair and unable to work because of a lack of stamina. He is one of an estimated 50,000 Michigan residents who may qualify for medical marijuana use once the state begins accepting applications on Saturday.
A hemophiliac who contracted HIV/AIDS from blood work, he lives in pain and battles to keep from losing weight because of a lack of appetite."I've decided I'm going to grow my own marijuana in my house," said Allen, who was forced to declare bankruptcy last year. "I can't afford to buy marijuana" - which can cost from $200 to $900 an ounce, according to police."But I have bought 10 seeds and now I'm waiting for the game to begin."Michigan voters in November approved medical marijuana use by a 63 percent to 37 percent margin, joining a dozen other states that allow it.State health officials are finalizing rules and regulations for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program.Step one: issuing picture ID cards for those on the marijuana registry; they should begin arriving by the end of April. The cards cost $100 each and will allow patients to legally possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana or grow 12 marijuana plants in a locked, enclosed area.Caregivers, who can supply marijuana to a maximum of five patients, will also have to pay $100 for ID cards under a program the state hopes will be self-supporting and require no taxpayer dollars.One thing the state won't do is provide the marijuana or even tell patients how to acquire it on their own.And possession of marijuana remains a federal crime, although the Obama administration has said that it likely won't prosecute users in states where the drug's use for medicinal purposes has been approved by voters. Some Doctors Reluctant To get on the confidential marijuana registry, patients must get a letter - not a prescription - from a Michigan-licensed physician certifying that pot could benefit their medical condition.The law covers people with "debilitating" medical conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and chronic diseases, or their treatments that produce wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe muscle spasms, such as those caused by multiple sclerosis.Greg Francisco, executive director of the nonprofit patient advocacy group Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, said some doctors are refusing to go along with the new law."Many doctors are skeptical and reluctant to get involved in this," said Francisco, whose wife mixes marijuana into brownies that she bakes to ease his back pain from atrophied muscles, the result of childhood polio."The larger, mega corporation health clinics associated with hospitals are refusing, based on corporate policy," said Francisco, whose group is based in Paw Paw, in southwest Michigan. "The certifications are coming mostly from family physicians who have a history with the patients."The Michigan State Medical Society, which opposed the ballot proposal, has sent out a "legal alert" to its 16,000 physician members advising them that "a physician should use his or her best judgment whether they want to recommend that a patient get a registry card," said David Fox, spokesman for the group.The new law shelters participating doctors from arrest, prosecution or any professional penalties for recommending marijuana use. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld that protection in other states.Doctors cannot write prescriptions for marijuana since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies it as an illegal, controlled substance like heroin and LSD, with no medical use and a high potential for abuse.The Michigan doctors' group does favor more research to establish what, if any, medical use marijuana may hold. Legal Issues Remain Unclear  More problematic is the question of legality.The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration regards marijuana users, even in states that have medical marijuana statutes, as lawbreakers. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that a state medical marijuana law is trumped by federal law.But as a practical matter, the feds have not gone after medical marijuana users in states with those laws.Francisco said that when he was a federal law enforcement officer with the U.S. Coast Guard, "we didn't bother with nickel-and-dime drug use by recreational boaters."Sheriffs and prosecutors are telling us that like it or not, they will go along with the new law," he said. "It's like the speed limit. It used to be 55, but now it's 70 on highways. Police might not like the higher limit, but they don't write tickets until you exceed 70 miles an hour."Shanon Akans, spokeswoman for the Michigan State Police, agreed."It's not going to have a huge effect on us," she said. "As long as medical marijuana patients comply with the law (limits on amounts and not giving or selling marijuana to people not on the state registry), they won't have an issue with law enforcement."Despite the law, it's up to employers to decide whether to prohibit medical marijuana users from smoking in the workplace.The new law bans pot use in public places. And it will remain illegal for patients to use marijuana while operating a motor vehicle, aircraft or motorboat.Unlike a constitutional amendment that can only be undone by a vote of the people, the medical marijuana law is a citizen initiative.That means the Legislature is free to modify or outright repeal the law after two years.Meanwhile, Francisco said his group is planning an application rally at the Michigan Department of Community Health on Monday."We're asking patients to come to Lansing and caravan to hand-deliver the applications," he said. "We're planning on a mass turnout so we can turn this into a media event."Related Article From The Detroit News: Detroit News (MI)Author: Charlie Cain, Detroit News Lansing BureauPublished: April 1, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Detroit News Contact: letters Website: URL: Articles:Michigan Goes To Pot Marijuana Rules Called a Burden on Police
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 02, 2009 at 06:32:22 PT
Patient Rules Lacking in New Medicinal Pot Law
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 01, 2009 at 05:17:32 PT
State To Start Issuing IDs for Medicinal Pot Users
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