Mid-Michigan Still Struggling over Medical Marijuana

MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) — (03/01/10)–It is the drug of choice for some Michigan patients and their doctors, but even though voters approved it, medical marijuana is still controversial.

The drug that is still illegal in most of the 50 states is gaining popularity as a treatment for some illnesses.

Marijuana, pot, cannabis — whatever you call it — there are a growing number of people who rely on it to fight pain, survive chemotherapy, and make it through the day.

For “Julie,” marijuana is simply a natural alternative to the prescription drugs she would have to take every day to manage myriad illnesses including multiple sclerosis, degenerative disc disease and diabetes.

Julie is among thousands of people in Michigan who are legally certified to use medical marijuana. But in 38 of the United States, it is against the law no matter how sick a person is.

“Its’ a schedule one narcotic, but it shouldn’t be,” said Dr. Robert Kenewell.

Kenewell, known in his advertising as Dr. Bix, travels Michigan. He is one of a relatively small number of practicing physicians who will help patients get certified to use medical marijuana.

Kenewell says marijuana is less addictive and nearly impossible to overdose on. So how did marijuana get what advocates describe as a bad rap?

To many, it started with the film “Reefer Madness.” It came out in the ’30s and is a propaganda piece showing scenes of crazed people smoking pot and becoming violent in some cases.

Right now, it is legal to use marijuana in Michigan for about 15 conditions ranging from chronic pain to nausea to seizure disorders.

But it is only legal for patients who are carry a state registry card. And, not everyone using medical marijuana is smoking it.

There are special vaporizers. Topical cannabis oil, believed to be helpful for skin conditions, one man says, has used it successfully on melanoma.

Not every medical marijuana patient grows their own. In fact, in Michigan, people can be licensed as caregivers for up to five patients — six if they are patients themselves.

But if you think it is as simple as getting some dirt and growing a few plants, you are mistaken.

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