March 26 2009 12:00 AM

Riding a wave toward April


Marijuana Journal is a weekly column tracking the implementation of the state medical marijuana law. Greg Francisco is the executive director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association. This column appears online every Monday and every Wednesday in print.

When you’re riding the crest, it can be awfully hard to gauge just where the wave may be taking you. It’s not always easy to assess how big the wave is, how fast it is moving or how far it will carry. Rather, you have to just hang on, enjoy the ride and hope you’re not headed for the rocks.

And so it goes in mid-March in regards to the Michigan Medical Marijuana program. The law has been in effect since Dec. 4, but the state won’t start taking official applications until early April and won’t begin issuing registration cards for three weeks after that. During the interim, patients are depending on their valid doctor recommendations to provide at least partial legal protection. It’s as if we’ve been walking a tight rope for years and now have a safety net underneath us. But we won’t be truly safe until we reach solid ground in late April.

It seems to be going fairly smoothly as we surf this wave, with only the occasional whirlpool appearing on the surface. Many police officers are recognizing valid recommendations and upon presentation, are leaving patients alone, still in possession of their medicine.

Prosecutors seem to be proceeding with maximum caution. Many patients previously charged with marijuana offenses are seeing the charges dramatically reduced or even dropped. Prosecutors are elected officials and they can read the polls just like anyone else. None appear anxious to persecute patients.

Compassion clubs continue to sprout around the state. Compassion clubs are simply patient support groups. The clubs are not intended to be hook-ups for the transfer of medical marijuana, seeds or clones. Already patients, caregivers, health care providers and their loved ones are finding the clubs tremendously helpful.

Every week a few more brave doctors are writing recommendations. Many patients have been visiting the THC-F clinic as well. Next month, THC-F will be holding clinics in Houghton Lake, Grand Rapids and Southfield and the following month will be in Marquette. More and more patients are finding doctors willing to do medical marijuana assessments.

Only with the perspective of time will we be able to truly judge these early days of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. But, so far, so good.