NORTON SHORES, MI – A new pain management clinic that says it can help current and prospective Michigan medical marijuana patients recently opened its doors in Norton Shores.
Liberate420, a new company launched by patient advocate Daniel J. Reid and board-certified anesthesiologist, Dr. Marla Gendelman, opened its flagship location at an office complex located at 800 East Ellis Rd. on Aug. 1.
Reid, an East Grand Rapids native, recently told MLive Muskegon Chronicle that the company came to the Lakeshore because the area lacked alternative marijuana and non-narcotic pain management facilities.
The establishment has plans to open a Traverse City office on Aug. 31 at 310 West Front St., and in the upcoming months, intends on opening locations in Michigan cities such as Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland and Kalamazoo.
If the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2 passes on Nov. 4, the company could also open up offices in Tampa and Sarasota, Reid said.
Gendelman, a native of the metropolitan Detroit area, is returning to Michigan from Pittsburgh to serve as the company’s medical director, Reid said. She earned her degree from the University of Michigan’s medical school.
Liberate420 provides three types of consultations: pain management, medical marijuana evaluation and certification, and medication review and optimization for prices ranging from $129 to $179 per visit.
Reid, the business’s chief executive officer, said Liberate420 has established medical marijuana clinics for Aug. 19, Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 at the Norton Shores hub for people who “believe they are absolutely qualified and are looking for an ongoing doctor-patient relationship.”
“We don’t just certify for the hell of it. We’re really interested in having bona fide, long-term relationships with patients,” Reid said.
The company also wants to fight the stigma that often accompanies medical marijuana therapy and help people who suffer from chronic pain, he said.
“We’re also interested in medication review and optimization because there’s so many people that are prescribed all kinds of narcotics for pain, but they don’t know what it can do to them long term,” said Reid, who says he opposes marijuana legalization for recreational use.
The right type of marijuana — such as the “Charlotte’s Web” strain recently publicized by CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta — can help patients enjoy a better quality of life and keep them from becoming opioid-induced “zombies,” according to Reid.
Reid said he often hears the laundry list of potential side effects named at the end of prescription commercials in bewilderment.
“I listen to these ads and think, ‘Are you kidding me?'” Reid said.
Reid said Liberate420 provides patients with reimbursement forms for several health insurers such as Cigna, Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, though the office is aware many companies won’t reimburse patients for the company’s services.
“We know that pain medication abuse takes place,” Reid said. “Just because the patient might abuse it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be covered. I feel the same about marijuana.”
Reid and Gendelman both attended Michigan State University in the 1980s, but they didn’t meet until several years later.
After undergrad, Gendelman practiced medicine and held several teaching positions, including posts at the University of Pittsburgh and Drexel University in Pennsylvania.
Reid enjoyed a career in public relations and marketing at international firms such as Burson-Marsteller, Weber Shandwick and Ogilvy & Mather before embracing medical marijuana to ease the pain he experiences from a chronic condition.
By taking “edibles” — food containing healing compounds found in marijuana such as Cannabidiol (“CDB”) — Reid said his life has improved tremendously.
He started a medical marijuana patient advocacy group, and with a business partner with which he is no longer affiliated, he co-founded Good Intentions, the first medical marijuana firm founded in Illinois under the state’s Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.
Reid said he eventually met Gendelman through a professional organization.
“She’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant,” Reid said.
In a recent interview with the Traverse City Record-Eagle, Gendelman said general anesthesia lost its appeal and that she became “amazed” by medical marijuana later in her career.
“The problem is there’s not very much research being done on it because there’s been no availability to get the drugs because it’s a Schedule I narcotic,” Gendelman told the Record-Eagle.
In June, the Food and Drug Administration said it would reevaluate marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug — a decision some believe is a move toward decriminalization nationwide.
Out of all of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s five drug classifications, Schedule I substances are the most restricted. Federal officials consider them “dangerous” and suggest they have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the agency’s official website.
Gendelman, who intends to hire more medical staff as demand increases, will not approve every patient seeking certification, Reid said.
Liberate420 staff said current and prospective patients should have at least one of the approved conditions outlined on Michigan’s marijuana patient form.
Some of those ailments include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”), Crohn’s Disease, wasting syndrome and severe nausea.
In addition to providing consultations, the company provides referrals to “prescreened” caregivers and offers group training seminars and private instruction for qualified cardholders and providers.
“We don’t want them buying marijuana off the street and adding to the existing problems with marijuana,” Reid said. “We are encouraging people to get with a good caregiver or learn how to grow the plant properly.”
Reid said the Liberate420 offices will not distribute marijuana.
Liberate420 can be contacted at 231-766-MEDI or [email protected] The Norton Shores and Traverse City offices will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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