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Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Marijuana Journal


by Greg Francisco


Marijuana Journal is a weekly column tracking the implementation of the state medical marijuana law. Francisco is the executive director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association. This column also appears online every Monday.


The publication of the revised rules for the state medical marijuana program has been pushed back to Feb. 6. Signals coming from state Department of Community Health indicate that the most objectionable proposed rules contained in the first draft, released at a public meeting on Jan. 5, will be gone. And they should since the first draft violated both the letter and the spirit of the proposal the voters approved in November. We’re optimistic the revised rules will comply with the law.


Regardless of how long it takes the state to solidify the rules, one date is set in stone — April 4. The Department of Community Health must begin accepting applications for registration cards on that date and issue cards by April 20 — the law passed in November set this date. Until then, there continues to be confusion about whether medical marijuana patients and caregivers are protected right now.


They are.


When the law was enacted Dec. 4, a few doctors began writing recommendations immediately. Until registration cards are issued in April, a valid doctor’s recommendation is not a substitute for a registry card — it is the registry card. This is stipulated in the law. Patients with valid recommendations are protected today. There is no requirement to wait until April.


Almost daily I hear anecdotal reports of police-patient encounters. Most officers are accepting of doctor recommendations when patients present them and are not seizing medicine or citing patients. This is very encouraging. Patients are enjoying their liberty and respecting the limits. This is how it’s supposed to work and for the most part it is.


But there have been a few blemishes. A Genesee County prosecutor is threatening to violate a probationer who is a cancer patient using medical marijuana to treat the nausea associated with chemotherapy — as if any county can afford to take on the health care cost of jailing cancer patients. And a compassion club in Berrien County was recently the target of a stakeout; random patients were allegedly stopped coming and going and pressured to submit to searches of their vehicles. Is this what the voters passed? A sheriff’s department staking out a patient support group?


To learn more about your rights and responsibilities under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, visit our Web site, www.MichiganMedicalMarijuana.org.


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