SAMRC hosts panel discussion 'Tell the Truth About Marijuana'


NORML affiliate and activist Adam Brook told students the federal government has no right to tell people what they can or can't put in their bodies at a marijuana panel Wednesday.

Central Michigan University students discussed medical marijuana use with leading experts at a panel hosted by the registered student organization Students Advocates for Medical and Recreational Cannabis.

"Tell the Truth About Marijuana," took place Wednesday evening at the Bovee University Center Auditorium.

Panelists for the event were Brook, Matt Abel, the director of Michigan NORML, and Heidi Parikh, president of My Compassion.

The discussion began with a recap of the panelists’ backgrounds, and their perspective when it comes to the use of medical marijuana. Abel offered the lawyer’s perspective for the panel, while Brook offered the activist’s perspective and Parikh, the patient’s perspective.

“For me it was a civil rights issue,” Brook said. “Certainly the government shouldn’t tell you what you can or cannot do to your body.”

Topics discussed during the event included Michigan marijuana laws, options for medical marijuana patients who prefer not to smoke and ways to become active about education having to do with cannabis.

Abel said individuals have the power to influence politics.

“The politics of it is fluid,” he said. “We can make a difference as individuals.”

Parikh, the president of My Compassion, said access to "medibles" is important for medical marijuana patients who prefer not to smoke, and stressed the importance of having all options available for a patient’s recovery.

“Not everyone smokes,” she said. “If you’re just starting out for medical use, you’re not going to want to smoke.”

Parikh, who is a patient herself, said while smoking cannabis is the fastest way to feel the effects of marijuana, medibles have a longer-lasting effect.

“Medibles are an option for those that want to ingest cannabis in a different way,” she said.

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act was passed in 2008. It provides a system where certain patients can qualify and obtain cards that allow them to legally consume marijuana as a medicine.

Abel said the largest category that qualifies a person for eligibility for a medical marijuana card is severe and chronic pain.

Brook said for those who are passionate about the issue, it is easy to become an activist. He said the simplest ways people can do so are vote on the issues they care about, and talk to their friends and others about the issues to get the word out.

“The culture has definitely changed, and, nowadays, it’s much easier to become active,” Abel said.

Hannah Reidenbach, a sophomore from Custer, said she felt the panel was fair.

“Coming from someone who has very little knowledge of this information, I thought it did a good job of offering another side to the issue," she said. "It was very interesting."

Saginaw freshman Austin Hill agreed he panel was informative.

“I thought that it was helpful,” he said. “People may be interested in the cause and the panel gave them a chance to be able to educate their peers.”