Although the status of medical marijuana remains a bit hazy in Arizona, facilities that help people apply for patient cards continue to spring up, including in Gilbert.

The Green Cross Patient Center opened in town nearly two months ago in a small strip mall on the southern side of Baseline Road, between Gilbert and Lindsay roads.

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Owner and Director Charles “Chuck” Hall made it clear that the facility is not a dispensary and that there is no marijuana on site.

“We are here to help patients get a doctor’s recommendation and to help them with the paperwork,” he said.

“This is a medical facility, and marijuana is a safe alternative to some very bad medicines that hurt people.”

According to Hall, the majority of their patients are people in their 40s and 50s who are seeking relief from chronic pain. Nearly all have tried traditional remedies; many are wary of using potentially addictive pills.

Casey Roberts, a mechanic and assistant manager at a nearby auto shop, was one of Green Cross’ first customers.

Roberts said he has medical conditions, including pain from an extensive facial reconstruction he underwent after suffering a broken jaw and crushed eye socket in the boxing ring.

“I hate taking pills,” he said. “I just refused and put up with the pain. But I found that marijuana helped.”
Roberts said his doctors had no problem prescribing pain pills but were reluctant to prescribe medical marijuana. After a couple of run-ins with the law, he was prepared to move to a state where he could get medical marijuana legally.

Then, he discovered Green Cross.

“I had heard about these places but never paid too much attention to them,” Roberts said. “But I thought if there was one in Gilbert, and as tough as Gilbert police are on things like this, then it had to be legit.”

The 1,200-square-foot clinic has a reception area/waiting room, with a couple of sparsely furnished offices and an examination room with a sphygmomanometer (to measure blood pressure) and a tripod-mounted camera.

Patients meet with Dr. Jack Manning, who reviews their medical history, conducts a short examination and discusses what treatments the patient has tried and how medical marijuana may or may not help.

If Manning writes a recommendation, staffers at the clinic help the patient fill out forms, take photos to go with the application and file the request. Applications can be filed only online.

Green Cross charges $150 for its services. (In addition, the Arizona Department of Health Services charges $150 for the cards, which must be renewed annually.)

Patients can file their own forms, but Hall said a lot of doctors are reluctant to make recommendations for medical marijuana.

“We can do two things here,” Hall said. “We have a doctor who is compassionate, and we also do the paperwork. And when bureaucracy goes bad, we take care of it for you.”

Currently, the clinic sees about 10 patients a week. The reason it’s so slow, Hall said, is that there’s still so much uncertainty about the law.

He hopes to raise awareness of the clinic, as well as increase its patient load, by giving presentations at the center on some of the legal issues surrounding medical marijuana, its proper use, which strains are better for what afflictions, and other related topics.

One of the reasons they located in Gilbert, Hall said, was because of its favorable demographics.

“(Medical marijuana) is for the soccer mom who doesn’t want to take Perc*ocet,” Hall said. “She can take a tincture in her tea instead of hiding in the back room, smoking a fat doobie.”

Although the main reasons people come in is because of chronic pain and cancer, medical marijuana has been touted as helpful for those with glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitisC, Crohn’s disease, muscle spasms and other afflictions.

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News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Source: The Republic
Author: John Stanley
Contact: Contacting The Arizona Republic
Copyright: Copyright © 2011 All rights reserved.
Website: Clinic helps medical-pot seekers