A medical marijuana clinic — the first in the Jackson area — opened Monday for chronic-pain patients seeking the use of medicinal marijuana.
The Medical Marijuana Clinic assists people in applying for the Michigan medical marijuana registry identification card.
“There’s a lot of people who can benefit from the medicinal use of marijuana,” said Joe Monahan, manager of The Medical Marijuana Clinic. “We help educate people who feel they can benefit from this.”
The legal use of medicinal marijuana is still in its infancy in Michigan. Both proponents and opponents of the law, approved in November by Michigan voters, say there are still some gray areas.
Under the law, a patient must obtain a written certification from a physician that verifies the patient has a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer or AIDS. The patient then applies for a registry identification card with the state Bureau of Health Professions within the Department of Community Health.
As of Friday, the state had received 6,778 applications and issued 6,080 registration cards, said spokesman James McCurtis. Of the issued cards, 4,329 were for patients and 1,751 were for caregivers.
The local clinic does not provide marijuana or assist people in obtaining the drug, Monahan said.
Located at 330 W. Franklin St., the clinic offers free prescreening for people who might qualify for the registry card. The visit with the office’s physician, which is required to complete the application process, costs $200.
Qualifying patients must have their medical records, which must be dated within the last three years.
The clinic will not offer ongoing care, and the physician’s visit will be limited to discussing the patient’s case as it applies to registering for the identification card.
There are at least a dozen medical-marijuana clinics throughout the state, said Greg Francisco, executive director and founder of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association.
Physicians are not allowed to give marijuana to patients or help them obtain it, Francisco said.
“The patients are entirely on their own,” he said. “There’s still a lot of misinformation out there.”
There have not been any major problems in the area with people abusing the medical marijuana law, Jackson County Undersheriff Tom Finco said. For people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes, “they know what they have to do in order to possess it,” Finco said. “The law is the law, and we’re going to enforce it.”
Registered patients or caregivers are allowed to grow limited amounts of marijuana in an enclosed, locked facility.
However, the law neither protects marijuana plants from being seized nor individuals from being prosecuted if the federal government chooses to take action against patients and caregivers under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
“The basic challenge is that the federal government sees (marijuana) as an illegal substance,” said Dr. Daniel Michael, president-elect of the Michigan State Medical Society. “A lot of physicians are justifiably hesitant about being involved in the process of certifying patients to obtain a registry card.”
For more information about the clinic, call 787-1206 or visit www.themedicalmarijuanaclinic.com.
By Tarryl Jackson