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Compassionate Care Center Of Michigan, A Medical Marijuana Dispensary, Opens On Main Street In Dryden

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Compassionate Care Center of Michigan, a medical marijuana dispensary, opens on Main Street in Dryden

By Melissa Burden | Flint Journal

May 21, 2010, 2:48PM


Melissa Burden | The Flint JournalThe Compassionate Care Center of Michigan, a medical marijuana dispensary, has opened in Dryden. Staff prohibited pictures from being taken inside, but this green door leads up to the dispensary, 5493 Main St. at the corner of Mill Street.DRYDEN, Michigan — In an upstairs apartment overlooking Main Street, people with chronic pain and debilitating medical problems are driving from afar to this sleepy country town of 800 residents to buy medical marijuana.


There’s no sign for the Compassionate Care Center of Michigan and word of mouth is bringing many who carry a card showing they are a Michigan Medical Marihuana Program registered patient to what’s believed to be the area’s first medical marijuana dispensary.


The nonprofit care center opened in April in a temporary location, 5493 Main St. at Mill Street, the lone stop light in town.


Inside a living room, a white board lists prices for medical marijuana. During a visit on May 20, cookies were $5 each and two strains of pot were available — strawberry cough was running $325 an ounce or $20 a gram and Jack Herer, $300 an ounce or $20 a gram.


Only people with proper paperwork and their MMMP cards are allowed in the dispensing rooms, said Joe Crowel, an assistant at the center.


Inside the dispensing room, a bedroom space that includes a desk and table, canning jars filled with dried marijuana buds sat on a table, where patients could smell it and inspect it under a magnifier before a caregiver weighs it.


One center customer, who has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for about 10 years, calls the center a “blessing.”


Mark, 34 of Lapeer who asked his last name not be used, said he has been using medical marijuana for only a few months, but says when he does use it, it’s helped make the pain tolerable so he can “play with my kids, go to the ball game.”


He said he doesn’t use it everyday, but just when he gets a flare up.


“When I get in lots of pain, I take a couple hits off the marijuana and I’m good to go for awhile,” he said, holding a cane and resting his braced right ankle, sitting on the coach in the waiting area in the club’s office.


The center’s state incorporation documents list Robert Wiegand of Dryden and Randy Crowel of Almont as the center's directors.


State registered caregiver and patient Mark Carter, 49, of Romeo got teamed up with the two through Big Daddy’s Management Group, which oversees a dispensary in Oak Park, manufacturing of Big Daddy’s Hydroponic Growth System in Oak Park and the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine.


Carter, who suffers from chronic back pain and degenerative spine disease, said nearly 10 caregivers have formed a cooperative of sorts to pool their extra pot and distribute medical marijuana to card-carrying patients at the center.


Under the state’s Medical Marihuana Act, caregivers can assist up to five patients and can receive reasonable compensation for services to patients.


Carter says he only grows for himself and his patients.


“My extra I have, I’m willing to sell it to other patients,” he said.


Dispensaries are not addressed in the state act and the legality of a dispensary is left up to cities and the county prosecutor, said James McCurtis, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Community Health.


Lapeer County Prosecutor Byron Konschuh said if the dispensary is providing medical marijuana to someone who isn’t a patient, doesn’t have a patient card, or to more than five patients per caregiver, the center would be in violation of the law.


“You can’t just dispense to anyone who has a card,” he said. “You can only dispense under the law to your particular five patients.”


He said if a complaint is made about the center and if a police investigation determines a law is being violated and a report is sent to him, he would issue a warrant for a criminal action.


It’s not something that worries Carter, who added he can always make a patient a caregiver to further the supply and people who can be helped.


“I’m not worried at all,” he said. “That’s what we’re waiting for, for someone to come in and say, ‘Nope, you can’t do that. You’re under arrest,’ because that’s the test case.”


Carter said dispensaries actually are waiting to get a test case on file — one he believes will allow dispensaries to operate the way they are to aid patients.


And so far, it looks like the dispensary has at least some support from the village.


The dispensary opened before the village council adopted an ordinance May 4 regulating the use and possession of medical marijuana and operating a medical marijuana dispensary. The ordinance requires a permit to operate a dispensary in the village and limits hours of operation.


Several other townships locally, including Richfield Township and Grand Blanc Township, also have passed similar medical marijuana ordinances.


A permit for Compassionate Care Center is scheduled to be on the agenda at the council’s 7 p.m. meeting June 1.


The village hasn’t had any problems with the dispensary so far, Village President Pat Betcher said.


He said the village can’t deny a legal business a place to operate and that dispensary operators have been “very cooperative” and are willing to comply with rules and regulations.


“There’s obviously people who don’t want it here,” Betcher said. “Officially, I have not heard any complaints from police.”


For now, the Compassionate Care Center is seeing 15, sometimes 30 people come through its doors every day — young and patients nearing 80.


Joe Crowel said people are driving from as far away as Caro, Pigeon and even Detroit to visit the dispensary, which may move to a lower level space on Main Street.


The dispensary is open noon-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Details: (810) 375-2023 or CCCOM@gmx.com.

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