Pubdate: Fri, 22 May 2009
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)
Copyright: 2009 Battle Creek Enquirer
Author: Elizabeth Willis
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


They were not there to pass a joint or barter seeds.

The first members of the Battle Creek Compassion Club  met Thursday to
share information about marijuana for  medical use. Seven people
attended the meeting.

A middle-aged couple from Sturgis sat in a half-moon  booth at Roger's
restaurant with Greg Francisco,  founder of the Michigan Medical
Marijuana Association.

The couple did not reveal their names, fearing  retaliation from
co-workers, they said. Another man  across the table also didn't want
his name in the  paper.

But compassion club meetings like this one, and dozens  across the
state, have cropped up since Michigan  citizens voted to legalize
marijuana for medical use  last year.

"We at the association are speaking up for people who  are afraid,"
Francisco said.

One man did speak up about his battle with Hepatitis C  and how
marijuana could be the miracle drug he's hoping  for.

Bill Hutchins, 24, of Battle Creek contracted the  blood-borne
pathogen while living with an uncle who had  Hepatitis C. He suspects
his uncle used one of his  razor blades without telling him.

The disease can cause liver cirrhosis and cancer. There  is no
vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention.

Hutchins said the disease and the $4,000 per week in  drugs his doctor
prescribes make him lose his appetite  and he can't sleep, causing
extreme fatigue.

When he uses marijuana, however, "it makes me want to  eat, that's for
sure, and it calms me down," he said.

So a couple days ago, Hutchins said, he met with a  doctor in Albion
who prescribed marijuana to ease his  symptoms.

He also paid the $100 application fee to obtain a  registration card
that validates his prescription,  which he said should arrive in the
mail soon.

It will allow Hutchins and a designated caregiver to  possess 2.5
ounces of marijuana or 12 plants for  personal use.

The law is unclear about how patients can obtain the  marijuana if
they or their caregivers do not grow it  themselves.

"There's a lot of grey area," Hutchins said. "I think  it will be a
lot of trial and error."

Hopefully, he said, police will not make the mistake of  arresting him
for illegal possession of marijuana.

Hutchins said he plans to use marijuana in addition to  his shots and

People with other chronic conditions -- not just  terminal diseases --
also can obtain a prescription for  marijuana, and Hutchins encouraged
them to consider the  option.

Hutchins, in fact, thinks marijuana should be legal for  non-medical
use as well. Allowing patients to obtain it  is a step in the right

"I feel like it's about time," he said. "I don't see  what the big
deal is anyway." 
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