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Bill Would Outlaw Medical Pot for Glaucoma Patients

Michigan state senator proposes banning medical marijuana for treatment of glaucoma—but pot advocates fight back.

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If you have glaucoma, Michigan may harsh
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By Bryan Le

03/27/12

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If Sen. Rick Jones (R) had his way, Michigan would be a medical marijuana-free state. Most recently, Jones sponsored a bill to outlaw medical marijuana for glaucoma patients. “I have met with multiple medical professionals, and not one of them has been able to tell me a benefit of treating glaucoma with medical marijuana,” Jones says. “In fact, a large problem is that many patients forgo the use of approved treatments such as eye drops and exclusively use medical marijuana, which increases their risk for permanent visual loss and blindness." Unsurprisingly, medical marijuana advocates disagree. “Used in combination [with prescribed medicine] it's proven very, very effective,” argues Tim Beck, political director of the pro-medical marijuana Michigan Association of Compassion Centers. “Anyone silly enough not to use their eye drops, well, maybe there’s something else wrong with them besides glaucoma.”

The Michigan Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons sides with Sen. Jones. In a press release supporting his bill, the group claims that while prescription pot can reduce pressure in the eyes caused by glaucoma, its effects are short-term and won't effectively contain the disease. Other critics suspect that Sen. Jones, a former sheriff, is just continuing his general campaign against medical marijuana in the state: He previously has sponsored bills to disallow felons from selling medical pot and to prevent dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of schools and places of worship. "I think Senator Jones is completely opposed to medical marijuana law and is attempting to chip away at it by any means necessary," speculates Matthew Abel, executive director of the Michigan chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Nobody I've talked to in the legislature expects his bills to pass." 

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