Source: Chico Enterprise-Record
Health professionals at a Chico medical clinic can suggest its clients use cannabis products, but they won't be handing out any samples.
MediCann, a fledgling organization with a string of clinics in the state, is opening its ninth location on Nord Avenue Wednesday. There, qualifying patients will be issued a doctor's recommendation to legally use medical marijuana.
While those who are determined eligible may be advised to use cannabis, the clinic's director wants residents to know it isn't distributing products of the plant.
"We're definitely not a dispensary," said Jonathan Arbel, MediCann director of operations.
And that's a good thing since medical marijuana distributors aren't welcome in Butte County. While authorities in places like San Francisco may look the other way, advocates who try to set up shop locally aren't so lucky, said District Attorney Mike Ramsey.
"When people ask, we inform them that it's against the law," he said.
Giving a recommendation to use medical marijuana is a different story. Ramsey said it falls within the guidelines of Proposition 215 so long as the recommendations are legitimate.
But after studying its Web site, Ramsey is a bit skeptical of MediCann. The company sounds like a business as opposed to a medical operation, he said.
The fact that clients must pay the fee in cash and are given a 50 percent discount if they don't qualify for the recommendation were a couple of red flags he spotted.
Physicians who specialize in medical marijuana evaluations have occasionally set up branch offices locally, but Ramsey said anyone can go to their own doctor to get the recommendation.
Arbel described MediCann headquartered in Oakland as a chain of alternative medical clinics dedicated to the care of patients who have been failed by traditional medicine.
"We're more of a compassionate company," said Arbel, adding that the $100 fee for services is much less than other similar clinics charge.
The fee, he said, pays for a year's worth of visits that include an evaluation by a trained medical professional either a licensed medical doctor or a physician's assistant and follow-up appointments.
People suffering from chronic pain, cancer and AIDS make up many of the clinic's clients. They cover all walks of life, from grandmothers to rabbis, Arbel said.
"They're like you. They're like everybody," he said.
Those who are deemed eligible to use medical marijuana are given a signed and dated document recommending that they do so.
But that doesn't mean everyone qualifies, Arbel said. Staff are always on the lookout for malingerers people who exaggerate or fake illness to get the recommendation.
Further, he said, those who do receive the recommendation are encouraged to use cannabis edibles such as oils and butters rather than smoking marijuana.
"We do try to steer patients toward other treatment," Arbel said.
Acupuncture and massage therapy are also recommended.
MediCann is opening a clinic in Chico because many of its clients in the Bay Area were traveling from the north state. Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Author: Melissa Daugherty - Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Copyright: 2005 The Media News Group