In November 2008, Michigan residents voted yes on Proposition 1, which made medical marijuana legal in the state. As a result, medical marijuana clinics have been popping up all over the state, with one that opened in Marquette this past summer.
Marquette Medical Marijuana Registration Center (MMMRC) practice administrator Dave Guizzetti said there are many conditions that could make someone eligible to receive marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“Some are really straight forward: HIV, hepatitis C, glaucoma; but there are others, nausea, muscle spasms, that could be the result of a treatment or medical condition,” Guizzetti said.
Guizzetti added that a patient who had been taking 18 prescription pain pills a day had gone down to zero after a year of marijuana use.
“It helps a lot of people to move from chemical poison narcotics to a natural remedy that seems to alleviate their pain and help them with their discomfort,” Guizzetti said.
To apply for a card, a potential patient need only stop by the MMMRC to become a registered and then have any medical records detailing an eligible condition sent to the clinic. Once the records are received and approved patients may receive their card within one to two business days. Registering for a card may also be done online.
“A patient can do it right from their computer and never have to come into the office at all,” Guizzetti said. “We draw patients from all over the U.P., many of whom have serious physical disabilities. It’s difficult for them to get here.”
The card costs $300 and is good for a year from the date of issue. Each subsequent renewal costs $200.
Once the card has been received, the patient can either grow the marijuana or hire a caregiver to grow it for them. Caregivers are not required to have a medical marijuana card.
“The requirements for a caregiver is that a person must be 21 years of age, they cannot have been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs, they cannot be a caregiver for more than five patients and they have to be a Michigan resident,” Guizzetti said. “It’s really that simple.”
Health Promotion Office (HPO) Specialist Lenny Shible said that as long as the people receiving the medical marijuana feel that it is helping them, he won’t question it.
“People went through the hoops, did a lot of work to get it approved so that some (people) can have access to marijuana that they believe will help them with their ailments, and that’s the most important thing,” Shible said.
Shible added that he has concerns with the way the law has been put together and likened the caregiver’s growing of marijuana to that of prescription drug abuse.
“Medications that are left around the house are subject to being misappropriated and used in a way that was never intended,” Shible said. “I really think we have to be careful about the access by those that have not been cleared to use this drug and especially young children.”
Shible said that his concerns are more with the system than with the rights of someone to have access to another mode of relief from a medical condition.
Dean of Students Christine Greer said students who have obtained a medical marijuana card are still not permitted to use marijuana on campus, as NMU follows federal guidelines, which still outlaws marijuana regardless of whether it’s for medicinal purposes.
“We have to follow federal laws or we will lose all our federal funding, so we have no leeway,” Greer said. “Federal law (is) no drugs on campuses, so we have to follow that.”
Greer added that a student who is in possession of a medical marijuana card but is required by the university to live in the dorms may want to apply for an exception to live off campus.