April 13 2009 12:00 AM

Marijuana Journal is a weekly column tracking the implementation of the
state medical marijuana law. R.D. Winthrop is a medical marijuana activist.

Last Monday was surely interesting. It was the end of the state Bureau of Health Professions' bureaucratic prerogative to delay issuing medical cannabis identification cards. A Sunday night snowstorm was a bookend to the state’s public hearing of their "proposed" operating rules, which opened on Jan. 5. We had a blizzard that weekend, too, but 150 people managed to show up.

Colleen Davis turned the Gone Wired Café in Lansing over to the task of hosting medical cannabis patients who wanted to hand-deliver their authorizations on opening day, and the Niles Valley Group, an association of caregivers, chartered a bus to take them downtown. I arrived at Gone Wired to check the lots at around 7 a.m. They were clear of snow, the kitchen was humming and Colleen had already opened the doors.

There were a dozen or so people sitting quietly, in pairs or small groups, and I had hardly started to schmooze when the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association’s de facto staff, Greg Francisco and Brad Forrester, burst through the back door with banners and boxes of brochures. Customers sprang to action like bees from a hive, becoming stagehands and maintenance workers as they moved bins of shirts, shoveled sidewalks and arranged the cafe's main floor to host what was essentially a compassion club meeting for all those who chose to brave the conditions and drive to Lansing.

They came. Sixty or more people were on the bus when it pulled out mid-morning, and more than a hundred were registered by the day's end. I knew most of them. They came from Detroit and Manistee, Berrien and Tuscola, but not to "become" legal cannabis patients. The effective date of the law was in early December of last year and any patient certified by a physician is basically legal.

They were here to celebrate, to have a "coming out" party.

Joy is not commonly seen. Perhaps we share it with our family, and we see it frequently in competitive sport, but it is a rare thing to see among a spontaneously formed community of strangers. I saw a lot of it Monday.

I mailed my paperwork in April 1 — April Fool’s Day — choosing not to go downtown. Instead I went to Emil's, right across the street from Gone Wired, and drank a shot in memory of those no longer among us to see this day. Bless them all.