MARQUETTE -?A national medical marijuana group is holding a clinic in Marquette Monday to help interested residents apply for Michigan's new registry for patients allowed to use and grow marijuana for medical reasons.
The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation has been holding clinics across the state since voters legalized the use of medical marijuana in November, and has offices in eight states, including Michigan.
Paul Stanford, executive director of the foundation, said doctors would be on hand to consult with patients and review their medical records to see if they might qualify for the program.
A Michigan medical marijuana registry identification card. (Journal photo by Kim Hoyum)
"We help patients get medical marijuana permits, as long as they have current medical care and a diagnosis of one of the qualifying conditions," Stanford said, adding that about two-thirds of those who apply are approved by THCF clinic doctors.
Qualifying conditions include chronic severe pain or nausea, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, AIDS or HIV, cancer, hepatitis C, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease and other conditions, according to the foundation.
Stanford said the foundation plans to revisit the Upper Peninsula on a monthly basis if there is enough demand for the clinic's services. While any physician can do the paperwork to let a patient apply to use medical marijuana, Stanford said some doctors are not comfortable with the treatment, or are unfamiliar with it.
"We have a lot of information about cannabis," he said. "Most doctors aren't that familiar with cannabis, or they aren't aware of the studies behind it, or in some cases they are just not in favor of the substance itself."
State and local medical marijuana groups also will be present Monday to assist in running the clinic and offer membership signups and information.
A Marquette-based group, CALMM, or Compassion At Last, Medical Marijuana, has recently organized and plans to act as an advocate for medical marijuana patients in the central U.P.
Board member Ron Pihlainen said the group wants to increase cooperation between doctors, patients and law enforcement agencies, since the use of medical marijuana is different from illegal use.
"We have to have the enforcement also, to make this work," he said.
Michigan's Department of Community Health operates the medical marijuana registry, and ultimately approves applications of patients. The clinic Monday would be a first step for those applying; then MDCH decides whether to issue an identification card to the person.
Pihlainen said he has gone through the process of becoming a registered patient, and was approved by the state health department to grow a limited number of plants. Other patients can have a caregiver - a person who grows the marijuana for a patient - who must also be approved and registered by the state, said CALMM president Chris Nettleton.
"They have a separate contract, fairly in-depth, with the state between the patient and the caregiver," he explained.
The clinic is open by appointment Monday, throughout the day at the Landmark Inn in Marquette. The appointments are arranged ahead of time, but Stanford said there may yet be some openings for those interested. For more information, call 1-800-723-0188 or visit www.thc-foundation.com/michigan.