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Medical Marijuana Registry Sees Sharp Rise In Southwest Michigan Patients


bobandtorey
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KALAMAZOO, MI -- The number of registered medical marijuana users in Michigan is on the rise, fueled largely by sharp increases in cardholders from counties in Southwest Michigan.

The number of registered medical marijuana patients statewide rose to 124,175 in Fiscal Year 2012, which ended Sept. 30, from 119,533 in 2011 -- about a 4 percent increase -- according to the state of Michigan's medical marijuana annual report.

 

Counties in Southwest Michigan saw much more significant increases. The number of medical marijuana users in Kalamazoo County registered rose to 3,063 in FY 2012 from 2,689 in 2011, a 14 percent increase. In Kalamazoo County, 1.2 percent of residents are medical marijuana cardholders.

 

Van Buren County saw its number of patients grow from 1,092 in 2011 to 1,524 last year, a 39 percent jump. Van Buren County's 1,524 medical marijuana cardholders make up about 2 percent of the county's total population.

 

Here is a look at the number of medical marijuana cardholders in Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012, along with percentage increases, for nine Southwest Michigan counties:

 

Allegan: 2011 - 1,176; 2012 - 1,573 (33 percent)

Barry: 2011 - 812; 2012 - 905 (11 percent)

Berrien: 2011 - 1727; 2012 - 2,371 (37 percent)

Branch: 2011 - 443; 2012 - 663 (49 percent)

Calhoun: 2011 - 1,740; 2012 - 2,268 (30 percent)

Cass: 2011 - 400; 2012 - 627 (56 percent)

Kalamazoo: 2011 – 2,689; 2012 - 3,063 (14 percent)

St. Joseph: 2011 - 594; 2012 - 783 (31 percent)

Van Buren: 2011 - 1,092; 2012 - 1,524 (39 percent)

John Targowski, a Kalamazoo-based attorney who represents people in the medical marijuana industry, said he is not surprised by the numbers.

"I'm not surprised at all, because there are a lot more medical professionals using marijuana as an accepted modality," Targowski said. "It's also part of the widespread social acceptance of marijuana."

 

Under a Michigan law that took effect in 2009, patients who have certain debilitating medical conditions can get a medical marijuana card with a physician's approval.

 

Targowski said many people who have used marijuana medically are starting to "come out of the closet."

"The first couple years people didn't want to register due to the stigma associated with it," he said. "You are starting to see that change."

 

Kevin Spitler, founder of The Med Joint Community Compassion Center in Kalamazoo County's Oshtemo Township, also said the statistics are consistent with his experience.

 

On Friday, Spitler closed the Osthemo Township medical marijuana dispensary on the advice of his attorney following a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that dispensaries that handle patient-to-patient sales are not protected under the state's law. He said he did not know how long it would remain closed.

 

Spitler says he had been seeing more people coming through the doors to find out about the medicinal value of marijuana. "What's been surprising is the number of senior citizens," he said. "I'd say half of them are over age 40."

 

He said the dispensary has been trying to remove the stigma from medical marijuana and has been running a public service announcement on a local radio station for several months.

"Once people realize there's more to it than the high, they are more accepting to it," Spitler said.

 

The state took in $9.9 million in medical marijuana card fees in FY 2012. Cardholders must pay $100 to apply for and renew their ID cards, which are due to be renewed every two years.

 

More: Click here for a complete breakdown of the number of cardholders and caregivers by Michigan county

 

Aaron Mueller is a public safety reporter for the Kalamazoo Gazette. Contact him at amuelle1@mlive.com or 269-568-3867. Follow him on Twitter.

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Has to do with availability as well. Dave and I are very active there and I just opened a full office that is taking off. We do quite a bit of outreach as well.

 

Just to put things in perspective, Cali has about 4% of the population with cards. Michigan is between 1 and 2% so we have a long ways to go.

 

Dr. Bob

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Hey, that is funny to me Doc because while in my yoot we had to perform an errand for a certain college group, and it involved taking our friend Goebels to Gobles and had to get his picture in front of the city sign while drinking a Goebles beer. Ahhh, those were the days! Ha Ha Ha!!! But I will always remember your town Doc B.

Peace...

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Has to do with availability as well. Dave and I are very active there and I just opened a full office that is taking off. We do quite a bit of outreach as well. Just to put things in perspective, Cali has about 4% of the population with cards. Michigan is between 1 and 2% so we have a long ways to go. Dr. Bob

its kinda like comparing a Model T Ford with a '39 Ford Custom /w AM Radio, Doc. CA Doesn't even have a Patient Registry. Apparently they make up for the loss of income with sales tax?

 

Anyway point is they don't have one registered patient... after 10 years. Docs are cleaning up though, sounds like, maybe thats what your intuition keyed on?

 

"Senate Bill 420 also mandates the California Department of State Health Services to establish a voluntary medicinal marijuana patient registry, and issue identification cards to qualified patients. To date, however, no such registry has been established.

Senate Bill 420 also grants implied legal protection to the state's medicinal marijuana dispensaries, stating, "Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients ... who associate within the state of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions."

 

NORML...thank you

Edited by solabeirtan
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Hey, that is funny to me Doc because while in my yoot we had to perform an errand for a certain college group, and it involved taking our friend Goebels to Gobles and had to get his picture in front of the city sign while drinking a Goebles beer. Ahhh, those were the days! Ha Ha Ha!!! But I will always remember your town Doc B.

Peace...

 

My family has been there from the 1870's. We were cleaning out an old barn and found a bunch of coins from the Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 or so.

 

Graduated from GHS.

 

Dr. Bob

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its kinda like comparing a Model T Ford with a '39 Ford Custom /w AM Radio, Doc. CA Doesn't even have a Patient Registry. Apparently they make up for the loss of income with sales tax?

 

Anyway point is they don't have one registered patient... after 10 years. Docs are cleaning up though, sounds like, maybe thats what your intuition keyed on?

 

"Senate Bill 420 also mandates the California Department of State Health Services to establish a voluntary medicinal marijuana patient registry, and issue identification cards to qualified patients. To date, however, no such registry has been established.

Senate Bill 420 also grants implied legal protection to the state's medicinal marijuana dispensaries, stating, "Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients ... who associate within the state of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions."

 

NORML...thank you

 

 

My intuition is based on the number of patients with qualifying conditions vs states with a longer history of medical use. I am sure that is what you are referring to.

 

Dr. Bob

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