July 8, 2013

Pharmacist, 71, With Glaucoma, Loses License Over Marijuana Misdemeanor

July 8, 2013
crohns disease medical marijuana

pharmacist license marijuana michiganThe blind application of law leaves a 71-year old pharmacist with glaucoma without a license to practice his profession- because of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

A helicopter fly-over revealed 14 marijuana plants growing in the backyard of Donald Buckley’s home in southwest Michigan. Police seized the plants and Buckley eventually plead guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana crime. Michigan law states any conviction of a crime involving a controlled substance requires a pharmacist to sacrifice their license, and the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has enforced that provision.

Buckley has glaucoma and uses marijuana to ease that pain. Glaucoma is a component of nearly every medical marijuana state’s listing of conditions qualifying a patient to use marijuana. During the last legislative session, Sen. Rick Jones introduced a bill to strike glaucoma from Michigan’s list of qualifying conditions but that bill died in the Senate.

If Buckley had registered for the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMP) his possession of plants would have (assumedly) been immune from illegality and none of this would have been a problem. Citing fear of losing his pharmacy license, Buckley said he did not register with the MMP; “he didn’t want that to conflict with his job.” His failure to register was in fact his undoing. It is this all-encompassing, omnipotent fear that forces people away from participating in programs designed to help them. It has been created by 80 years of anti-marijuana propaganda and 40 years of drug war hysteria and it will be hard to eliminate.

A 71-year old man needs medical marijuana for his glaucoma. That’s the guy the voters were thinking of when we cast our YES votes in 2008. The real failure in this scenario lies with the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs department.

In an MLive article, Jeannie Vogel, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, reinforced that there would be no reason for Buckley to worry about the Department cross-referencing the pharmacy and MMP registration databases. ”…the identity of a person with a medical marijuana card is confidential, so we would not know if they have a card when they apply for licensure,” Vogel was quoted as saying.

It is the failure of the MMP to publicize this protection that allowed Buckley to remain too afraid to register. LARA’s refusal to enact MMP education now drives them into a new action- an action where they take away an elderly man’s identity and income. The cause, and the effect.

The MMP, under the direction of LARA, has produced no informational brochures, distributed no fact sheets, authored no patient guides. Government programs are generally seen as wanting to recruit new applicants; not the MMP. There are 150,000 registered participants in Michigan’s marijuana program and many of them are ill-informed about the core rights the law provides, and many more are uninformed about the recent changes in law created by the legislature, by the courts and by Steve Arwood, LARA Director and Re-Interpreter General of the medical marijuana administrative rules.

It is incumbent upon the governing body that those being governed are not ruled in ignorance. Obligation, responsibility and integrity require a greater involvement with the citizenry by their government. In this case, they could start with a few brochures.

Source: The Compassion Chronicles


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