Thousands Attend Medical Marijuana Expo

Visitors at the first Michigan Medical Marijuana Association Expo gather information on the state's new law. (Photo by Steve Perez)Visitors at the first Michigan Medical Marijuana Association Expo gather information on the state’s new law. (Photo by Steve Perez)Detroit – 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 generally incoherent most of the time.

Then, in March, he stopped taking the painkillers and started using marijuana. Although he is 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. … It has been a blessing.”

By Sunday, nearly 4,000 people had visited the expo, just shy of the 5,000 people that organizers were expecting.

Rain on Saturday and heat Sunday may have been factors in the attendance, said expo spokeswoman Hillary Dulany.

Still, Dulany was excited to have drawn so many people to the state’s first medical marijuana expo, held at Michigan Avenue and 22nd Street

“This is bigger than I anticipated,” she said.

“But it’s good. Things are going well.”

Among those who attended Sunday was Mary Bridges, a psychiatrist with a private practice in Detroit.

“I am always interested in eclectic therapies that will enable patients to live a more fulfilling life,” said Bridges.

In November, Michigan voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana. It was just the 13th state to do so. The expo aimed to inform attendees about the law, educate them about choices and show there are job opportunities relating to the field, organizers said.

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

Greg Francisco, executive director of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, said a person who uses marijuana to deal with pain or illnesses is 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.”

For information, visit www.mmmexpo2009.com.

– Article from The Detroit News on August 10, 2009.

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