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Home Arts and Culture  California cannabis advocate Michael Malott returns home
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Wednesday, June 22,2011

California cannabis advocate Michael Malott returns home

’Michigan Medical Marijuana Handbook’ covers health benefits, logistics and interacting with police

by Andy Balaskovitz

Michael Malott took Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart
Dunnings III’s review of his new book, the “Michigan Medical Marijuana
Handbook,” “with a grain of salt.”


In a TV interview in May, Dunnings  urged
buyers to beware because he said Malott was explaining how to fully
comply with the state Medical Marihuana Act, specifically those who
operate or patronize dispensaries.


Malott went on the defensive, claiming “there’s no way (Dunnings) read” the handbook.


“(The book is) not for him,” said the 48-year-old author. “It’s for the people out there he’s screwing with.”


Dunnings said readers should “beware” Malott’s
interpretation of the state’s Medical Marihuana Act, but the book offers
very little in terms of interpretation of the act.


The first quarter of the book — which
explains the state law — is basically reprinted information out of the
Act: who qualifies for a card, how to get your card, application
checklists and a brief overview of the act. Later on, Malott prints the
act verbatim, along with a set of rules related to the act that were
issued by the State Department of Community Health.


The handbook is largely a guide to the
state Medical Marihuana Act, the basics of marijuana consumption and an
overview of health benefits offered by cannabis. It also offers advice
on how patients and caregivers should deal with law enforcement.


Malott said “one of the most important
things” about the handbook is a listing of 473 different strains of
cannabis and what kind of relief each offers 


“Knowing the difference in strains is as
important as knowing the difference between an antibiotic and a
painkiller,” Malott said. “A lot of people will say a strain is great
because of how high it gets them. That’s not medicinal." 


Malott said the strain listing is a
compilation of old notes since the ‘90s, along with feedback from well
known growers in California, including Ed Rosenthal.


“The biggest benefit of the book is the accuracy of the strain guide to each illness,” he said.


The health section cites various
scientific studies and personal experiences that promote cannabis use
for everything from cancer to hangovers. One section discusses using
cannabis during pregnancy: “The use of any drug, including alcohol and
tobacco is not recommended during pregnancy. However, it has been shown
that medical marijuana use during pregnancy poses no health risks to the
unborn fetus. There is no reason why medical marijuana could not be
used for severe morning sickness. … The therapeutic value of medical
marijuana must be weighed against the hypothetical risks,” Malott
writes.


The section titled “Interaction with Law Enforcement” draws a line in the sand between patients and police.


Malott said it stems from experience:
“Hold your ground as a group. The police are not your friends; they’re
not going to help you. Most are going to trap you. In every aspect they
are the enemy of medical marijuana and the medical marijuana patient,”
he writes in the book.


“It was hard to write that,” Malott said.
“I hope to be proven wrong as often as possible on that. The emphasis
is on not being too trustful of what police tell you.”


When asked if he’s worried that stance
will further the perceived divide between cannabis users and law
enforcement, Malott said, “Not really. There are officers out there who
have respect for the law. They are who I have most respect for.”


Malott said he wrote this handbook for
one reason: knowledge. “I want people to be safe, secure and confident
in what they’re doing. They have to know the facts. Too many people are
making assumptions about what this law says, including dispensary
owners.”


The handbook doesn’t address it, but
Malott said there’s been an evolution in the 15 years since California
passed the nation’s first statewide medical marijuana law in 1996; 15
states and the District of Columbia have since passed medical marijuana
laws.


In San Francisco in the mid-1990s, Malott
said medical marijuana was a useful weapon against the AIDS epidemic,
even if it only offered temporary relief. That’s when he helped friend
and mentor Dennis Peron, whom Malott calls the “father of medical
marijuana,” operate California’s first dispensary, the five-story San
Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club.


“You’ve gotta keep something in mind
here: We were seeing people one week (at the dispensary) and they were
dying the next week. We operated at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It
was horrible,” Malott said. “It evolved into something much different
than what we started with. Now it’s become almost legal. Anyone who can
afford to see a doctor (can get a medical card).”


That goes for all 15 states and D.C., he said, adding that he supports overall legalization.


Malott said he purposefully didn’t go
into depth about Michigan dispensaries because it’s not entirely clear
that their operations are legal here — the state law makes no mention of
commercial activity, he said. And he’s against dispensary owners having
guns on site.


“Many Michigan dispensaries are setting
terrible examples by carrying firearms in their dispensaries,” he writes
in the handbook.


Malott, who was born in Sparrow Hospital,
moved back to Michigan in March after spending a great deal of the past
15 years in California. He started work on the handbook in April and
self-published it in May through CreateSpace, an online publishing
service owned by Amazon.


So what gives someone mostly tied to California the expertise to write "The Michigan Medical Marijuana Handbook"?


“I’ve been involved with this movement
since the 1980s,” he said. “I have a lot of experience. This book is
inevitably what happened in the process of being right in the middle of
it all.”


Michael Malott
"The Michigan Medical Marijuana Handbook" author
1-4 p.m. Saturday, June 25 Everybody Reads Books, 2019 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing
Free
(517) 346-9900
Copies are $15.99 and are available online at www.amazon.com and at several local dispensaries.

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