Royal Oak Medical Marijuana ID Center Works to Educate Patients
With changes happening all the time with city ordinances related to medical marijuana laws, downtown facility wants people to have a safe place to learn about laws and uses.
With so much going on with the medical marijuana laws, it’s important for residents to know how the laws are affecting their neighborhoods. The reality is, most don’t have a clear understanding of the laws, city ordinances and businesses involved with medical marijuana. In fact, hundreds of people walk down Fourth Street in downtown Royal Oak every day and have no idea they are passing a medical marijuana ID center.
MMM Patient ID Center services nearly 600 patients since its opening in early 2009. The center allows potential patients to come in and meet with a doctor to see if they are a candidate for their medical marijuana ID card. If they are, candidates send their application and a check for $100 to the Michigan Department of Community Health for approval. The application will be approved or denied within 15 days. After an applicant has been approved for their ID card, the MMM Patient ID Center works as an educational center for that patient.
Perry Winfrey Jr. owns and operates the center. Before the medical marijuana law passed in 2008, Winfrey was thinking about moving out of state.
"I’m originally from California and I was going to move back out there," Winfrey said. "After the proposal passed, I saw this as an opportunity to start a business that could help educate patients.”
Immediately following the approval of the medical marijuana proposal, Winfrey opened the clinic and began helping Michigan residents in safely obtaining and using their ID's.
Winfrey has spent a lot of time researching the different marijuana strains, laws related to the plant and ailments helped by smoking it. Winfrey is not a licensed doctor and has outsourced that portion of his business. A local doctor meets with potential patients at the center to review their medical files and determine their eligibility to apply for their ID. Before going to the ID center, potential patients must have been diagnosed with an eligible medical condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS. Other eligible conditions also those that are of a chronic or debilitating disease such as cachexia, severe, chronic pain, and seizures.
The center offers a variety of reading material for patients and also holds Compassion Club meetings on the first Tuesday of each month.
“We do an array of things at the Compassion Club,” Winfrey said. “I like to keep people educated on the basics of growing specific plants to align with their ailments. We go over healthier methods to take their medicine, such as using a vaporizer. Also, I try to have a lawyer at every meeting to answer any questions the patients may have regarding the laws.”
The Compassion Club is also a helpful platform for patients to discuss the changes within their cities regarding marijuana laws. City ordinances have been introduced by a variety of areas that alter the state laws. Within Royal Oak, it is legal for qualified patients to use medical marijuana. However, a city ordinance prohibits the growth or distribution of medical marijuana within the city.
“I feel very let down by the ordinance in Royal Oak,” Winfrey said. “The state says that you can grow it if you are a patient. I think that’s an abolishment of civil rights.”
Many people have become fearful of obtaining their medicine in a legal manner due to the differing city ordinances, he said.
“If a patient within Royal Oak cannot grow their medicine, they are forced to get it elsewhere. This requires them to travel with it. There’s potential of getting pulled over, and then they have to go through the mix up involved in proving that they are not breaking the law by having it. Most dispensaries are in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti, that’s a pretty significant drive,” Winfrey said.
Winfrey fears many patients within Royal Oak simply won’t make the drive to obtain their medicine from dispensaries.
“A lot of people will continue getting it from the methods they were using before they had their ID cards – from illegal sources,” he said. “I hope to see these laws in a much clearer state sometime in the near future. I want the city officials to be representing the laws that have been voted in to power.”
Many Michigan residents have expressed negative opinions regarding the medical marijuana laws. While Winfrey respects their opinion, he disagrees with the foundation for many of the negative arguments.
“There are definitely some people out there trying to push the limits with these new laws,” Winfrey said. “Many negative situations are published and give a bad reputation to those who are following the laws. This center is here to ensure that patients are abiding by the laws and not breaking any rules.”
Many people, like Bill Ribant, a resident of Royal Oak for 36 years, don’t know that the ID center is located in Royal Oak.
“I’m really not informed enough about the center and its objective to make an informed judgment on it being within the city,” Ribant said.
Others, like Jennifer Chambers, a Royal Oak resident and mother of twin girls, don’t care. “My family and I have been downtown a number of times since the center opened,” she said. “We haven't noticed a change for better or worse. If it helps people then I see no problem with it.”
Even those working in close quarters aren’t aware of its existence.
“I had no idea that it was there, but it doesn’t bother me,” said Brendan Martin, an employee at Caribou Coffee. “I think that people should be entitled to get their medicine.”
Of those who were informed about the ID center, no one objected to location of the center being so close to their place of employment.
“I have no problem with the center,” said Sara Libby, employee at Incognito. “Actually, I think it’s a good fit for our city. It meshes well with the culture.”