GRANTS PASS - ``Brother Bob'' Walker has organized a clinic to spare others
the frustrations he says he endured in obtaining a license to use marijuana
to soothe his back pain.

Soon after medical marijuana became legal in Oregon, Walker started looking
for a doctor who would help him use cannabis to relieve pain from a 1983
fall that broke his spine. None of the local doctors would help him.

``I spent five months and $700 trying to get a card,'' he said.

The hassle prompted him to found a nonprofit to help others get state
licenses that allow people with certain medical conditions to legally grow
and smoke marijuana.

Southern Oregon Medical Marijuana Network hosts seminars on cannabis and
launched a Web site to promote medicinal uses for the drug.

``I totally believe in what I do,'' he said, adding that he has helped more
than 250 people obtain cannabis cards.

On Sunday, he rented a meeting room at a motel and brought in Dr. Phillip
Leveque, the Mollala osteopath who has approved nearly 1,700 of Oregon's
first 3,500 medical marijuana cards.

Oregon's experiment with medical marijuana will mark its fourth birthday in
May. As of last week, about 4,700 people held state cards that allow them
to grow cannabis plants and keep small quantities of marijuana to treat
conditions such as cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis or to relieve
chronic pain, nausea or seizures.

With a state population of about 3.5 million, that works out to one card
for every 680 people.

Southern Oregon has more than its proportionate share of medical cannabis
users. In Josephine County, 407 marijuana cards were valid in mid-April,
said Mary Leverette, director of the medical marijuana program.

That's about one for every 185 people among the county's 75,000 residents.

At Sunday's clinic, men and women came from as far as Bend, Brookings and
Klamath Falls to fill out their paperwork and be examined by Leveque.

Tony Honeycutt of Brookings said he had used marijuana for years to manage
his pain before obtaining a card last year. The 55-year-old Vietnam veteran
said he decided to get a card because he wanted to stop feeling like he was
breaking the law.

``I don't feel so guilty about what I'm doing now,'' said Honeycutt, who
uses cannabis for relief from stomach problems, an overactive bowel and a
gastrointestinal reflux condition.

Others said they were tired of the side effects of prescription pain
killers and over-the-counter drugs and wanted to try something different.

Pubdate: Tue, 29 Apr 2003
Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Copyright: 2003 The Register-Guard