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Is The Medical Marijuana Law Abused?

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My linhttp://www.nilesstar.com/2011/03/03/is-the-medical-marijuana-law-abused/k



Published 1:20am Thursday, March 3, 2011

Editor’s Note: This is the first story in a two-part series about the use of medical marijuana in Michigan.



About 90,000 Michigan residents have received approval to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Since voters passed a law legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes two years ago, a reported 90,000 residents have successfully received a state-issued medical marijuana card.


But it’s the suspicion of Berrien County Prosecutor Art Cotter that many of those carrying cards are doing for purposes that aren’t what those voters had in mind.


“I think it borders on fraud,” Cotter said. “The individuals who are getting them are not who the public intended, in opinion, to get them.”


Cotter isn’t alone. A review of Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Law is currently being done to determine whether or not tougher regulation needs to be administered to cardholders and caregivers, those who, under the provisions of the law, are allowed to grow marijuana for cardholders.


A number of state legislators are involved in that review, including Sens. John Proos and Tonya Schuitmaker.


“It’s an active group of state legislators,” Proos said.


The primary focus of that group, he added, is to determine in accordance to the law, “what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.”


Proos gives an example from the perspective of someone currently on parole. That parolee could very well — having been diagnosed with a medical condition in accordance with the law — be given a certificate signed by a doctor allowing him or her to apply for a medical marijuana card. That card being issued to him or her would allow the person to smoke the narcotic.


But failing a drug test would be a direct violation of the person’s parole, and Proos said that’s just one of many areas where the law isn’t very clear.


“We’re looking at the totality of the department’s implementation of this constitutional right,” Proos said, “to understand if further regulation is necessary to protect those who rightfully deserve the use of this prescription drug.”


The department the senator is referring to is the Michigan Department of Community Health.


The department’s handling of its role as being designated with “the administration and leadership” of the law, Cotter said, is another area of frustration.


“They could have provided a much greater leadership role,” he said.


Cotter, who is also chairman of the medical marijuana committee for the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Association, said the MDCH has been accepting applications for state-issued cards since April 2009. Though a photo is required with the application to be used as identification on the card, those cards are still being issued without those photos.


“They still haven’t figured out a way to put a photo on the card,” he said.


The applications sent to the MDCH are another source of gray areas.


According to the law a patient seeking a state-issued card must have a certificate signed by a medical doctor in order to apply.


Since the law has taken effect, there have been the developments of clinics throughout the state where doctors are certifying patients who may come to them if their own doctor does not approve of the drug as a treatment.


And state officials are concerned over reports of doctors setting up makeshift clinics in hotel rooms, signing off on certificates at just around $200 a pop.


This kind of certification, Cotter said, is not what’s intended by the law, as it’s questionable whether or not it constitutes a bona-fide doctor patient relationship.


“They’re seeing them for half an hour,” Cotter said. “That’s it. Maybe medical marijuana would help but maybe there would be some other medications or treatments that would be appropriate… That’s what’s happening, basically. They’ll go to these guys who will give written certificates, basically for anybody. To say that is a bona-fide doctor-patient relationship … I think is absurd. It’s not and that to me is one of the biggest issues the act needs to be fixed on.”


Read in the second part of this series in Friday’s Star about a local medical marijuana clinic.

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i dont like the title! I like the subtitle though :thumbsu:




edit= well they are after the traveling circuses and half the 90k pt's are gonna lose their card,,,how hard can it be to find a dr office that is not on wheels? I have found 2 in 2 yrs, mine is looking for patients now,,you want to go to a real dr. or do you want to risk loosing your card when the bunny muffin rolls down hill! (real doc in real office attached to real hospital) pm me if you need a doc in standish area, in fact standish hospital...shhhhhhhhhh


sorry to real qualifying pt's and the few good m.d's and d.o's who stand up to big pharmicuticals, I would realy hate to be back on narcotics! I have had a real active life, prob more than most, and Im not about to get hooked on drugs again, they can do waht ever the phaq they want with this law, im still gonna be using it, and I dont care if I go to jail, you may as well put me in jail if you want me on narcotics,,any one care to join me! I always get my own cell one way or the other! not in my cell of course, but you can be across the hall and ill send ya messages under the door! with the shower curtains strings, lol lord when will it stop,,,we got a girl in jail with 7 kids taken away from her, for 2 cookies to a dying cancer pt! did they think she was trying to poison him and than her kids?!? L . E needs to send their boys back to skewl class room reading laws that we voted in! and we also pay their wage, they dont pay mine! i paid for my own ssdi and i will be lucky if i get back what i paid in! Im becoming more and more militia thinking! im collecting guns as fast as im collecting dif strains of mm!

Edited by phaquetoo
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The longer they delay taking action against our Act the better. The public is on our side and the closer to 2012 when they try this the more risk these slimy politicians take in not getting re-elected. They might run for the hills after the over reach seen of the politicians in Wisconsin.


Its all talk now. They'll have to tangle with the 3MA. That will look very bad for them.


They may end up just letting the judiciary mess with us. I think we are on top as far as the politicians are concerned. I can't see any of them wanting to mess with a large group of well organized and angry and sick patients.


We can win that one.

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hope so hof!


Peace from a heavily armed qualifying pt!!!!!!! :sword:


And also, the language of the 2012 legalization initiative in California is out. With all this going on in 2012, I can't see any of these red faced fat white guy stickupazz politicians daring to make a move on us. Judges, as you know, that is a different story.

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Guest knucklehead bob

Yes , the law is being abused by Law Enforcement claiming IGNORANCE , STUPIDITY , GRAY AREAS and UNWILLINGNESS to accept the will of "WE THE PEOPLE"!

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about 30 or so years ago I went into a clinic to get pills for depression. I was amazed how EASY it was. We should write articles and letters about this in comparison to those card mills. IF THEY'D ALLOW dr.'s to recommend MM NONE OF THIS would be happening! We wouldn't even need the certification centers that ARE legitimate. Those idiot lawmakers CAUSE these problems but they're TOO darn BLIND to see it! Our Law is supposed to PROTECT dr.'s too, right?


Sb :growl:

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Reviewed the article on the newspaper's site, left a comment. Contacted the author as I am speaking in Niles on the 14th and invited her to attend to hear the other side of the issue- how much MMJ is helping people, how we are working together to police ourselves, and the problems we face with those in authority like Mr. Cotter demonizing patients.


Dr. Bob

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Reviewed the article on the newspaper's site, left a comment. Contacted the author as I am speaking in Niles on the 14th and invited her to attend to hear the other side of the issue- how much MMJ is helping people, how we are working together to police ourselves, and the problems we face with those in authority like Mr. Cotter demonizing patients.


Dr. Bob

too cool Dr Bob.

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From the comment section on the article. The good guys got a lick in and it seems to be well received so far.



truth be told MARCH 3, 2011 AT 3:44 PM LINK

Dman and Dr. Bob thank you. Now the real issue,why are a few elected officials wasting time and money to go against their voters. This is a huge waste of money and resources and only makes for patients to be painted as criminal.



Dr. Bob MARCH 3, 2011 AT 5:33 PM LINK

The biggest problem is lack of education and inability to change a mind set. Prosecutors and police are used to cannabis being illegal. Therefore people that use it are criminals. They make excuses to justify their ‘world view’–the voters were confused, they didn’t know what they voted for, the voters ‘didn’t have that in mind’ when it comes to the folks being certified. To justify this they go back to the ‘reefer madness’ mentality. The same tired arguments- cannabis leads to heroin, it is sold to elementary school students.


Above all they are upset this was a voter initiative, and they don’t like the voters telling them what to do. It used to be a slam dunk conviction, now they have to come up with ‘gray areas’ to justify their actions.


1. Patients- follow the rules, grow what you need and no more, keep it private and stay within the limits– But do it AFTER you are legal, not before.


2. Law enforcement- there is a new rule, if you don’t understand it, ask for help and education. Treat all citizens with respect, if they have a card, assume they are entitled to it and are trying to do the right thing.


3. Prosecutors- The first question should always be, ‘How is justice served by prosecuting this patient?’. It is not the job of an attorney or a prosecutor to decide if a patient is ‘sick enough’ to ‘deserve’ a card. It is their job to determine if criminal activity occurred that requires the patient to be punished or removed from society.


4. Doctors- Do no harm. Be prepare to back up your decisions to certify a patient with documented records. Meet the patient and interact with them. Know in your heart you have the patient’s best interest in mind.

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We have to educate anyone we can, let them know what's going on, many have no idea, because we're being kept in the dark, so any positive stories will have trouble getting through. This is a smear campaign at its lowest. People are wising up, many who voted for it have friends or family who benefit from MM. Even if a voter doesn't use or grow it, they voted with their hearts. We NEED them to KNOW what's going on, and remember to thank them.


Sincerely, Sb

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Here is the second part of the article.... Very good and favorable.


The legitimacy of medical marijuana clinics

Published 8:14pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

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Editor’s Note: This is the second story in a two-part series about the use of medical marijuana in Michigan.


Legislators are currently taking a closer look at a law passed by Michigan voters to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.


The law, they say, leaves plenty to be defined, including just what defines a genuine doctor patient relationship. Acquiring a state-issued medical marijuana card takes a certificate signed by a physician.


Since the law passed, legislators question reports of doctors setting up clinics in hotel rooms, signing certificates allegedly without looking at medical records, or those going to specialized clinics to get their certification.


What legislators are trying to determine is: Do those certifications represent a genuine doctor-patient relationship mentioned in the law?


But medicinal marijuana supporters don’t see an issue with clinics that require medical records and prior diagnosis, but sign off on certification for patients whose personal doctors may not support the use of the drug as treatment.


In St. Joseph, Sean Erhard runs the Three M Center in St. Joseph, a clinic that sees patients who are interested in acquiring a medical marijuana card for treatment purposes.


“At Three M Center we require proper medical records. End of story; have a nice day,” Erhard said.


Having opened the center four months ago, Erhard said he’s turning away more patients than he’s able to certify and he’s booked 60 days out. There are four doctors at the Three M Center; he said and one licensed practical nurse who sees patients prior to meeting with a doctor.


Erhard said the first question asked of patients is: “What were you diagnosed with and how do you feel medical marijuana would benefit you?”


If the diagnosis falls under what is outlined in the law (common medical conditions include AIDS, cancer, glaucoma or a medical condition that causes chronic pain) and the patient has already been diagnosed by a personal physician, the next step is looking at attempted treatment, Erhard said.


“In addition, there needs to be some kind of treatment that is in place or has been in place,” he said. “That includes physical therapy” or other prescribed medications such as Vicodin or Percoset.


“Some of the doctors have been reluctant to refer us to patients,” Erhard said, “because they don’t understand — they’re sort of under the impression that I’m here to take their patients. That’s incorrect.


“If they are willing, if they’re pro-medical marijuana … we are here to try to help the patients because so many of these narcotics and chemically made things that they give everyone, the side effects are horrible.”


Erhard wants more people to educate themselves on the law both for the patients’ sake and for those members of law enforcement who essentially become entangled in the process.


“It’s my responsibility to educate the community, whether its law enforcement or other doctors, so people don’t have to be scared,” Erhard said. “The majority of the people that come into my clinic, goodness gracious, some people just have six months to live.”


Erhard hosts a local compassion club meeting at the Three M Center twice a month for caregivers and patients.


He insists on seeing medical records before any payment is made for a visit and certification, but he also says he tries to expedite the process for those in severe pain or need.


For some patients suffering from AIDS, cancer or glaucoma, Erhard said, “these people can barely even make a car ride to the clinic, and it goes very quickly for them.”


The Berrien Springs native said he also “goes above and beyond” the current state law by asking for a voluntary 90-day follow up, which costs $35.


“I want to know after 90 days that people have started their medicating and that things are going in the right direction,” Erhard said.


But for all involved, the trouble doesn’t fade once the medicating begins.


That’s where some of the trouble starts for law enforcement.


Cass County Sheriff Joe Underwood said his biggest problem is not knowing who is approved to be in possession of the narcotic and who is not.


There’s no reference list for law enforcement agencies to track who are approved cardholders and who possesses the drug illegally.


When his department receives a complaint, he said, his deputies must respond in full to that complaint.


“We get search warrants,” he said, only to arrive at a suspect’s home and find he or she is an approved cardholder.


That can put a strain on departmental resources.


“It hurts our resources, certainly,” Underwood said. “If we knew someone was operating within the law,” there would be less time and essentially money wasted.


“I think there has to be some better regulation, checks and balances,” Underwood said. “And right now there are none, other than they can get a marijuana card. And it’s up to them to be in compliance, and we have no way of knowing if they are or not.”


State Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, said he expects in the next six to eight weeks the introduction of bills that would “address what we see as shortfalls and further guidance to the department of community health in this arena.”


With so many questions and concerns still swirling around the law, he added he believes a majority of voters would agree to further examination of its overall use.


“I think they would probably want to know that it was regulated appropriately,” Proos said, “and that physicians are doing their due diligence in reviewing medical histories.”


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Reviewed the article on the newspaper's site, left a comment. Contacted the author as I am speaking in Niles on the 14th and invited her to attend to hear the other side of the issue- how much MMJ is helping people, how we are working together to police ourselves, and the problems we face with those in authority like Mr. Cotter demonizing patients.


Dr. Bob

Hi doctor in reading i note proos said "narcotic" just a tipoff to their thinking

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Hi doctor in reading i note proos said "narcotic" just a tipoff to their thinking


When a doctor thinks narcotic, he is thinking OPIATE. There is a difference between actual and 'statutory' language. MMJ is classified as a narcotic under the law, though chemically and biologically it is not. Lawyers tend to use legal language and doctors use the actual pharmacological language. Just because I can understand and perhaps explain his line of thought doesn't mean I agree with it.


Dr. Bob

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