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Group to offer marijuana advice, patient advocates aim to teach


Group to offer marijuana advice, patient advocates aim to teach

by Elizabeth Shaw | The Flint Journal

Copyright: 2009 Flint Journal

Website: http://www.mlive.com/flint/


Friday March 06, 2009, 8:42 AM


MOUNT MORRIS TOWNSHIP, Michigan -- This is a first: A class on how to grow pot -- and which type to smoke (or eat) for the high you want.


It's a result of Michigan's new law giving the OK to use marijuana for medical purposes -- including treatment of nausea, lack of appetite or anxiety, all common side effects of many serious illnesses.


The new Genesee County Compassion Club, one of the state's first official "pot clubs," is to meet today. It plans to offer cannabis cookbooks, advice for dealing with doctors and growing tips.


Voters passed the medical marijuana law in November. The state Department of Community Health has until April 4 to finalize guidelines for how patients will obtain state identification cards to allow them and designated caregivers legally to acquire, possess, grow, transport and use marijuana as a treatment for specific conditions.


But the state can't advise patients on how to grow or obtain the drug, which is still illegal under federal law.


New support groups such as the Genesee County Compassion Club will fill that gap, said club co-founder Tom Yeager, who uses marijuana to treat Crohn's Disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract.


"Our main goal is positive patient outcomes that are also positive for the community. We want to make sure patients aren't having to go out on the street to get what they need," said Yeager.


The new state law -- which contradicts the federal law -- raises issues for police.


Genesee County Undersheriff James Gage was outraged that such a group would meet. He said not only is marijuana illegal, but evidence exists that smoking it can be dangerous.


"It isn't good for you, and it's against the law," he said. "If we find out where these people are, we may pay them a visit."


Fenton police Chief Rick Aro said the law doesn't preclude officers from arresting people for possession.


"It's opened up a whole new can of worms, and I don't think it was well thought out," he said. "I think there will be people who will take advantage of this law."


Contrary to what some might fear, the clubs aren't out to help drug dealers set up shop with the blessing of the state, said Yeager, who pointed to a growing controversy in California, where legalization of medical marijuana has helped foster a booming pot trade that's become increasingly criminal and violent.


"California has blown it up so much, if you break your finger the right doc will write a scrip for it. We definitely do not want to follow in their footsteps," said Yeager. "We're trying here in Michigan to adhere to keeping this an actual medical necessity and not let it get overrun by pill heads.

Flint Journal extras Genesee County Compassion Club


  • The medical marijuana support group will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. today at the banquet hall at Colonial Lanes, 6430 W. Pierson Road, Mt. Morris Township.
  • Details: GeneseeCountyCompassionClub@live.com


"If a man in uniform would like to show up at our meetings, they can. We want everyone to know our meetings are not a way to sell, transport or distribute any sort of goods."


The club is one of about a dozen so far that have filed as local chapters of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, the statewide citizen advocacy organization that has been working with the Department of Community Health on the proposed guidelines.


The meetings are open to anyone interested in learning about medical marijuana. The first meeting will cover the different strains of the plant and the types of high each delivers along with growing methods.


"For instance, think of somebody who lays on the couch relaxed and at ease. That would be Indica. It's good for (treating) pain and sleep deprivation," said Yeager. "Sativa gives you that free-floating feeling that's good for anxiety. But both are good for nausea."


Also on the agenda: a discussion of the proposed legal guidelines, how to get a doctor's recommendation and how to become a legally designated caregiver/grower.


Future topics include recipes and how different growing and harvesting methods can affect quality and taste.


State officials are cautious about weighing in on such groups.


"It really depends on what the support group's goals are," said MDCH spokesman James McCurtis. "There's definitely going to be a need in terms of groups to talk about the illness and pain and helping guide people in how to become part of the medical marijuana program.


"But if they're going to play a role in helping you obtain it or show you how to grow it or where to get seeds, we really don't have a comment."


The Michigan State Medical Society is also withholding judgment.


"There's so much new and different happening with it, we haven't seen enough of the law in action yet to make a judgment," said medical society spokesman David Fox. "I think it will have to be a watch-and-wait situation for now to see how things work out."

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