As Michigan's medical marijuana law takes full effect next month, sufferers of chronic pain and other ailments cheer while police predict problems
By Tim Jones - PAW PAW, Mich.—At first glance they look like old pals, maybe a bunch from the Rotary Club leisurely gabbing away over the hamburger special, making the waitress work overtime for her tip.
But these guys are different. Their eyes, their fidgeting and their restlessness betray a shared bond of chronic pain, sleepless nights, depression and a reliance on heavy-duty prescription drugs. Around this lunchtime table, they talk about the only thing that gives them a measure of peace, the only thing that, for perhaps a few hours, sets them free: marijuana.
They've been smoking or eating marijuana for years—privately and illegally. And now, because Michigan voters approved marijuana use for the treatment of certain serious maladies, Bob White soon will be able to get himself together in his Three Rivers home "without having to draw the shades."
Legalized medical marijuana is about to make its debut in Michigan, which becomes the 13th state and the first between the Rockies and the East Coast to embrace the controversial pain treatment. In a vote last November that defied the culture war/reefer madness connotation to the illegal drug, 63 percent of the state's voters—and a majority in every county—said yes to medical marijuana. The measure collected 250,000 more votes than Barack Obama, who won the state easily.
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