Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Michigan Readies For Medical Pot Use

Up to 50,000 May Qualify for Legal Smoking

Lynn Allen is busy squirreling away marijuana seeds - at $5 a shot - as he prepares to take advantage of a new state law that will allow seriously or terminally ill patients to legally smoke pot to ease their pain and suffering.

The 52-year-old married father of two from Williamston is confined to a wheelchair and unable to work because of a lack of stamina. He is one of an estimated 50,000 Michigan residents who may qualify for medical marijuana use once the state begins accepting applications on Saturday.

A hemophiliac who contracted HIV/AIDS from blood work, he lives in pain and battles to keep from losing weight because of a lack of appetite.

"I've decided I'm going to grow my own marijuana in my house," said Allen, who was forced to declare bankruptcy last year. "I can't afford to buy marijuana" - which can cost from $200 to $900 an ounce, according to police.

"But I have bought 10 seeds and now I'm waiting for the game to begin."

Michigan voters in November approved medical marijuana use by a 63 percent to 37 percent margin, joining a dozen other states that allow it.

State health officials are finalizing rules and regulations for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program.

Step one: issuing picture ID cards for those on the marijuana registry; they should begin arriving by the end of April. The cards cost $100 each and will allow patients to legally possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana or grow 12 marijuana plants in a locked, enclosed area.

Caregivers, who can supply marijuana to a maximum of five patients, will also have to pay $100 for ID cards under a program the state hopes will be self-supporting and require no taxpayer dollars.

One thing the state won't do is provide the marijuana or even tell patients how to acquire it on their own.

And possession of marijuana remains a federal crime, although the Obama administration has said that it likely won't prosecute users in states where the drug's use for medicinal purposes has been approved by voters.

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