Southwest Michigan Center Helps Patients Obtain Medicinal Marijuana

Depending upon where one lives in the state of Michigan, access to medicinal marijuana is either as easy as walking down the street and having your pick of the litter, or as difficult as having to drive either into the next township or even two counties away.

If you are live in Detroit or Ann Arbor, for example, you might have access to 100 or more dispensaries and 50 or so delivery services.

But if you reside in Southwest Michigan, say in Berrien or Van Buren counties, you’re not so fortunate.

One particular holistic health and healing center in South Haven has started a monthly workshop to assist those in need of medicinal marijuana, or are just curious about it.

Today, June 28, at 4:20 p.m., The Society of Healing Arts Institute, or SOHAI, will host the third in its series of seminars. This month’s topic will deal with cultivating marijuana, including discussion of hydroponic gardening, growing plants indoors versus outdoors and networking caregivers with clients.

“The first month we did a general overview of the differences between the various strains of marijuana and how to use online resources,” said Jessica Pusino, the office manager at SOHAI. “Last month we had a doctor come in and we had mostly a question and answer session.”

Because the monthly series, held the last Sunday of each month, is still very much in its infancy, turnout has been admittedly sparse. Last month about 15 attended. Pusino said she expects about that same number again this month. But like the industry as a whole, the sky’s the limit.

In addition to offering holistic health, massage, Reiki therapies and shaman workshops, SOHAI is also one of the few places in southwest Michigan where a client in need of medicinal marijuana can go to gain access.

“We try to take the stigma out of marijuana,” Pusino said, “to try to make it more normal for our clients, and the services we offer to make it like a luxury for them. One of the ways we do that is with this monthly series. If you live in Detroit or around there there’s lots of dispensaries and delivery services, but out here, it’s like the Wild West.”

“There’s a fine line we have to play,” Anthony Holmes, SOHAI co-founder, said. “Michigan laws differ from county to county as far as where they can allow dispensaries.”

Holmes added that at some point he hopes that SOHAI can become a dispensary, but in the meantime, they provide other means to assist clients get certified, one of which is holding these monthly workshops.

SOHAI’s primary role, with regards to medicinal marijuana, is hooking up patients with doctors. “We have doctors we work with who come in and will meet with patients, and then we help the patients fill out their paperwork to send in to the state of Michigan,” Holmes said.

“Then it’s just a matter of the patient going home and waiting for the card to come in the mail.”

Today’s workshop should be of particular interest as Michigan allows a qualified patient to grow up to 12 plants a time. Caregivers who are also certified and have paid the $25 processing fee for each required background check for a potential patient are allowed to grow plants for themselves and up to five patients, or as many as 72 plants.

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