Michigan: Patients Rally for Medical Marijuana

September 9, 2011 – Lansing, Michigan— They came by the busload to the Capitol lawn toting signs such as “Patients are not Criminals” and “Weed Deserve Better.”

The spirited gathering of about 1,500 people — one of the largest pro-medical-marijuana rallies in Michigan — featured the young, old and sick, some in wheelchairs.

“This has never been about cannabis,” said Robert Redden, 61, a medical marijuana cardholder whose Oakland County home was raided in 2009. “This is about our rights.”

The rally came on the heels of a Michigan Appeals Court ruling last month that shuttered many of the state’s 400-500 dispensaries and banned patient-to-patient sales for nearly 100,000 carriers of medical marijuana cards. The ruling has effectively limited safe ways patients can get marijuana and has denied them doctor-prescribed medicine, supporters said Wednesday.

Much of the anger was centered on Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has praised the August appeals court ruling. One of the biggest cheers of the rally came during a plane flyover with a banner: “Schuette: Keep Patients Off the Streets!”

Schuette’s stance on medical marijuana is one reason he faces a recall attempt. A Midland County panel Wednesday ruled recall petition language targeting the attorney general is clear, allowing opponents to start collecting signatures in an effort make the ballot as early as 2012.

At the rally, where the smell of pot wafted in the air at times, some told stories of dispensaries being raided and shut down. Others praised the effects marijuana has had on improving their health. They lamented the government’s role in attacking medical marijuana users and providers, even after Michigan voters approved its medical use 2008.

Schuette has argued marijuana is authorized in only very limited circumstances, and medical use doesn’t include sales of marijuana. He’s called the appeals court ruling a “huge victory for public safety and Michigan communities struggling with an invasion of pot shops near their schools, homes and churches.”

“The attorney general’s job is to enforce the law,” John Sellek, spokesman for Schuette, said in a statement. “We support and will enforce the court’s decision that dispensaries are illegal.”

Under the law, state-issued medical marijuana cards let holders have 2.5 ounces of “usable” pot and up to 12 plants. Registered caregivers also can grow marijuana for five people with 12 plants apiece. But that’s not enough to supply the demand, said Jack Einhardt of the Macomb Oakland Compassion Club.

Without the third-party dispensaries, patients “are not getting their meds,” said Einhardt.

Stephanie Whisman, whose Bay City dispensary was raided, said she feels her rights are under attack.

“I want our medicine to be legal,” said Whisman. “I’m tired of them shutting down dispensaries. I’ve been raided twice. I’ve never been charged with anything. But they’ve taken everything I’ve owned.”

Whisman’s boyfriend, John Roberts, who also has cancer, said: “We are not potheads; it is about medicine.”

Whisman, of Saginaw, said she doesn’t want to have to head to the streets for relief.

“I have my card. I went through my doctor. I did everything legal on my part. Why can’t I go to a safe place to get my medicine?” By Marisa Schultz/ The Detroit News Source.

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