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Medical Marijuana Expo Draws Enthusiastic Crowd


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
Jeff Brink bitterly recalls taking massive amounts of painkillers for 10 years to deal with back pain stemming from a work injury.

The 45-year-old St. Joseph resident said the morphine pump attached to his body and high doses of other painkillers three times daily left him feeling generally incoherent most of the time.

Then, in March, he stopped taking the painkillers and started using marijuana. While still in pain, he is able to manage it without feeling as if he is not in control of his body, he said Saturday while attending the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association 2009 Expo in southwest Detroit.

"There is hope that there is something out there without the harmful side effects I had been dealing with for 10 years," Brink said. "My thought processes are much better. I can feel things emotionally. It has been a blessing."

This is the first year of the expo, and the goal is to inform attendees about the law, educate them about choices and to show there are many available jobs, organizers said.

"This industry is booming," expo organizer Hillary Dulany said. "As quick as someone shows up, I can put them to work. There is a need for doctors, lawyers, secretaries, laborers and accountants. The supply (of workers) can't keep up with the demand."

On Saturday, more than 1,000 people had visited the expo at Michigan Avenue and 22nd Street, Dulany said. She said the amount of people who showed despite the day's steady rain was a surprise. Events are held inside a building and outside under tents.

"This is bigger than I anticipated," she said. "We wanted to keep it small, but word got out."

In November, Michigan voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana, just the 13th state to do so. Now people like those involved with the expo are working to show how medical marijuana can help manage pain and make money.

There are 3,000 patients registered with the state and another 1,100 people registered to legally provide the marijuana.

Dan "PuffDanny" Norton of Maybee said he makes money selling decorative glass bongs that he creates at events such as Saturday's expo. Despite a 10 percent discount given to attendees, Norton said he still is making money from it. He said it is not unusual for people who sell the bongs to clear $800 daily.

"We are trying to have fun and help people out," said Norton, an autoworker, as visitors crowded around his display area to check out his wares.

Greg Francisco, executive director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, said the people who use marijuana to deal with pain or illnesses are like any patient seeking relief for a medical condition.

"We are no different than any of our peers," he said. "We use this plant for medical purposes."

A tent is set up at the expo where people who needed to take marijuana for their medical conditions could do so. Medical personnel were staffed at the tent and the general public is not allowed inside of it.

It costs $10 to attend the expo. Those who have registered with the state do not need to bring their identification card to attend. The expo is open to the general public. On Sunday, the event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

News Hawk- Ganjarden 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The Detroit News
Author: Santiago Esparza
Contact: The Detroit News
Copyright: 2009 The Detroit News
Website: Medical Marijuana Expo Draws Enthusiastic Crowd
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