For marijuana club, getting high not on the agenda
by Bryn Mickle | The Flint Journal
Friday March 06, 2009, 10:48 PM
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MT. MORRIS TOWNSHIP, Michigan — I kept waiting for the cops to come storming in.
Something just seemed wrong about the prospect of a bunch of marijuana smokers sitting around a bowling alley on a Friday night sharing tips on the best way to grow your own.
With 1,400 pounds of marijuana that was headed for Genesee County locked up after a big bust last week, it seemed natural that there would be a need for more product.
It quickly became clear, however, that this was not a case of desperate times calling for desperate measures.
Instead of growing tips, I and about 50 other people in the banquet room at the Colonial Lanes bowling alley in Mt. Morris Township got a crash course on the state's new medicinal marijuana law.
Here's what I learned:
- You can have up to 21/2 ounces of marijuana if your doctor says it's OK.
- Your doctor can't help you get it.
Advocates of medicinal marijuana really dislike the terms "pot" and getting "high. I don't think that weed is evil, but I've never really cared too much about the legalization issue one way or another.
I was among those who voted in favor of legalizing medicinal marijuana last fall, but haven't thought much about it since I don't have any of the ailments that it can be legally used for. Friday's meeting, however, was a clear indicator to me that the law isn't about some backdoor way to get stoned.
Sure, there were a couple of people that showed up last night looking like lost extras from "Easy Rider," but there were plenty of people who clearly had serious health ailments. The average age of the crowd suggested they were there for bingo rather than a slide show on the differences between Sativa, Indica and hybrid marijuana plants.
Tom Yeager, co-founder of the Genesee County Compassion Club, said the goal is making sure that people who need marijuana for medical purposes can get it. Judging by the meeting, it's obvious that some kinks still need to be worked out.
"Is there gonna be any smoking in here?" asked one man. Organizers were quick to say that not only would there not be any smoking of cannabis at club meetings, there won't be any selling or trading of seeds.
Instead, attendees were encouraged to exchange phone numbers and e-mails to figure out such things on their own. "Maybe we could use Amway as a model," joked one man. "Give prizes for the happiest neighborhood."
The law allows for registered "caregivers" to grow and sell marijuana, as well as teach users how to grow it themselves.
The Genesee County Compassion Club plans to eventually get into grow techniques, but one organizer said they are awaiting guidance on an official grow curriculum.
With a 22-month window before state lawmakers can revisit the issue, proponents don't want to give anti-marijuana forces any extra ammunition. How far local cops will push the issue remains to be seen. Genesee County Prosecutor David S. Leyton said before the meeting that there is "no question" that the new law could make it very difficult for his office to go after recreational smokers and small-time dealers.
"The law does require that certain protocol be followed, but (the rules) are not too burdensome for people who truly wish to use marijuana, whether that use is medically beneficial and necessary or not," said Leyton, who did not attend last night's meeting.
With both sides anticipating court battles on the issue, one would expect that compassion club meetings will continue to grow as more people look for guidance.
"You're going to need a bigger room," said Brad Forrester of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association.
Maybe those grow tips will be covered next time.
Bryn Mickle is the afternoon police reporter for The Flint Journal. He also writes this weekly "Offbeat" column about the police beat. He can be reached at (810) 766-6383 or by e-mail.