Medical marijuana pain relief delayed by GR business

Green Gate Health on Burton Street in Grand Rapids.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A terminally ill West Michigan woman lived in pain for nearly three months while she waited for a state medical marijuana card that should have shown up in 30 days.

She asked to be identified by her middle name, Jeanette.

After being diagnosed with lung cancer, she said she rejected chemotherapy due to her age of 84 and didn’t want to take prescribed opioids out of fear they would harm her because of breathing problems.

Instead, Jeanette tried a liquid marijuana product and attempted to get a state card that would allow her to buy the substance.

To obtain the card, she said she went to Green Gate Health on Burton Street SE in Grand Rapids at the end of July.

After paying $160 to see a doctor and send her application to the agency that gives approval for medical marijuana in Lansing, she was told her could would arrive in 30 days.

When the card had not arrived in August, she contacted the government and was told they had no record of her application. Her granddaughter then called the health facility and was told a packet of applications was probably lost or sitting somewhere in Lansing, and Jeanette’s application would be sent again.

In October, Jeanette was still without a medical marijuana card and was still in pain.

“Sometimes it’s excruciating,” she said. “So I need something.”

She contacted Target 8 Investigators for help with the situation.

State officials said they would accept a copy of her application if she had one. She did and she mailed it herself.

She got her card in less than a month.

The owner of Green Gate Health said she couldn’t talk about what may have become of Jeanette’s original application because of federal medical privacy regulations.

A spokesman for the state agency that handles medical marijuana card applications said Jeanette wasn’t the only one complaining about third party businesses across Michigan that were slow or failed to send in applications.

“(An) informal query of our customer service staff indicates that we receive approximately 250 calls like this per month,” said Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs spokesperson David Harns.

Harns said they aren’t all complaints, but people who are calling to check on the status of their application and discovering it hasn’t been submitted. He also said the problem seems to occur in waves and is often a couple places that didn’t follow through on their “certification” of patients.

Many people who follow up with businesses that were supposed to submit applications find it didn’t do it and no longer exist. In some cases, the business does submit the application after a complaint or waits a monthlong period.

“We consistently recommend that applicants submit their applications rather than allowing third parties to submit the applications for them,” Harns said.

Those third parties are not regulated by the state.

After Jeanette submitted her copy of her application, she got her card.

She had it for about 10 days when she suffered a series of strokes. Her family said she died on Nov. 9.