Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · A puff of hope
. . . .

A puff of hope

Tim Madison - February 16th, 2009
A puff of hope
Tim Madison 2/16/09

During his treatment five years ago, cancer survivor Leonard Burdek sought relief from the side effects of chemotherapy through the use of marijuana.
During Burdek’s six months of chemotherapy he had to face the possibility of being arrested for possessing the marijuana which eased the pain of his symptoms. Yet, on April 4, fear of imprisonment, fines and legal bills will change, thanks to the approval of medical marijuana by voters in the recent elections.
Under the new law, patients in Michigan who have medical need and a doctor’s recommendation will be able to apply to the health department for an ID card that will entitle them to use marijuana. They’ll also be able to grow up to 12 plants, and carry up to 2.5 ounces of pot. Qualifying individuals may also select a caregiver to grow marijuana or obtain it for them. Each caregiver may have five patients and may grow 12 plants for each of them. If the caregiver is also a patient, then he or she will be able to grow up to 72 marijuana plants under the new law.

Burdek, along with Melody Carr and Bob Heflin are the organizers of the Traverse City Compassion Club, one of many so-named clubs that have been formed across the state by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association. The clubs were formed to help individuals seeking to grow and use medical marijuana.
“The main goal of the compassion club is to to offer support to these people, so that they can have the best experience they can with the use of medical marijuana,” Burdek says. “We want to be able to support those folks. We want to be able to listen to what their needs are and do our best to fulfill those needs.”
Those who wish to apply for an ID card to use medical marijuana will have to navigate the bureaucracy of the Michigan State government and deal with a (sometimes) skeptical medical establishment. Yet, through the compassion club system, Burdek and other volunteers will be working to make the process as easy as possible.
Burdek is a strong believer in marijuana as a medical therapy.
“The nice thing about it is that in the course of about three months, this isn’t going to be a black market thing anymore,” he says. “It’s going to be in the open, and people are going to be able to educate themselves on the proper ways of growing marijuana. Most importantly, I think what’s going to come out of this is that the patient isn’t going to have to go to the ‘underground’ in order to get their medicine. They’re going to be able to stay away from the criminal element.”

The Traverse City Compassion Club is part of a network that will include at least two clinics run by The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, which exists solely for the purpose of recommending patients for medical marijuana use. One clinic in Southfield is already open. Another is planned for Ann Arbor, and there is a possibility that the clinic will travel to Traverse City.
“The clinic has considered coming up here to Traverse City so that people don’t have to go to Southfield, if we can find 30 qualifying patients to go in for an interview with them,” Burdek says.
He adds that not everyone will qualify. “Just because they have an appointment, doesn’t mean they are going to get medical marijuana. It’s going to depend on their condition, and their last three (medical) charts.”
Burdek originally came into contact with marijuana through what he calls the “counterculture.” He says he had an “unhealthy relationship” with marijuana and was also a drinker and a smoker. “For the way that I abused tobacco and the way that I abused marijuana, I was a prime candidate to get cancer,” he says.
He intends to address health issues concerning the abuse of marijuana through his work at the compassion club. “I want to impress upon people that rolling up marijuana and smoking it is probably the least healthy way you can use it,” he says. “I also recognize that there are people who may have addiction issues -- addictive personality issues -- as opposed to an addiction to the marijuana, that are going to need some guidance so that they don’t fall into a trap with marijuana that they may have fallen into with other drugs.”

One outspoken medical marijuana advocate who goes by the name “Triple Old School,” was one of the first patients that Burdek assisted when he had difficulty getting the necessary paperwork from his doctor.
Triple Old School suffers from hepatitis C and side effects stemming from injections he received during his military service in the early 1980s. He says the injections were meant to prepare troops for nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, but had severe side effects, including liver damage. “I’d been on Oxycontin for quite some time and ended up addicted to it,” he says. “It took me a year and a half of methadone treatment to get rid of the addiction.”
He cited the lack of addictive properties as the main reason he has for choosing medical marijuana, and plans to obtain an ID card in April. “As far as the efficacy, it’s working -- it’s been really good. It’s been a wonderful substitute that’s non-addictive for me.”
During his cancer treatment, Burdek used marijuana to combat nausea, and also for pain relief from neutropenia, which causes an aching of the bones. Both are side effects of chemotherapy and Burdek felt that marijuana was a better pain-fighting alternative than addictive opiates. “I was able to really keep my use of opiates to a minimum during that time, when it was bolstered with my use of marijuana,” he says. “In that respect, I was reducing the potential harm to myself, knowing that when I was done with my treatment it would be much easier to put the marijuana down than it would be if I was using opiates and had become addicted to them.”

As a blogger on the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association’s website (michiganmedicalmarijuana.org) and as
an organizer of the TC Compassion
Club, Burdek is keenly aware of the
stigma that surrounds marijuana. “The image of the dullard kid on his
skateboard with his hoody on plays
into a lot of people’s perceptions about what a marijuana user is. We have to
break those stereotypes, because there are going to be members of the community
that are in good standing that may conceivably become patients, and that’s who we want to represent,” he says.
To people like Triple Old School, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act is long overdue. “It’s a wonderful substitute for narcotics, and it’s a non addictive substance,” he says. “I think it should be legalized all across America, and we shouldn’t be hunting down people who are using it for medicinal purposes.”
The Traverse City Compassion Club’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Traverse City Area District Library on Monday, March 23.

For info regarding medical marijuana or the Traverse City Compassion Club,
contact Leonard Burdek at tccc@mail.com.

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