A new medical marijuana clinic has opened at the E Street suites downtown near Chipotle. The 420 Relief Clinic does not distribute marijuana, but rather, prescribes medicinal marijuana cards. The cards allow patients to acquire the drug to treat specific symptoms like any other medicine.
“This is how I look at medicinal marijuana,” said Robert Shiple, the medical assistant at 420 Relief. “It is a prescription drug that treats symptoms like any other medication such as Vicodin. It is not going to treat everything.”
Shiple also said that one of the reasons he supports medicinal marijuana, and works at the clinic, is because it is a safer option than many other prescription drugs out there.
“Prescriptions are given out daily for oxycotin, which has been proven to be addictive,” Shiple said. “We are providing a viable alternative that’s non-addictive and you cannot overdose on. More and more studies are showing marijuana as an excellent alternative medicine.”
The 420 Relief Clinic has three locations in Sacramento and has expanded to Davis in hopes of meeting the needs of the large student population and filling a niche where there are no other clinics. However, Shiple said he is hoping to see more people come through the clinic soon.
“45 prescriptions have been given out so far by the clinic, and about 25 percent of those have been given to students,” he said. “I like to think that [Davis] is a good place for us, but we’ll have to see how things go.”
Shiple suspects part of the reason that students and residents of Davis have been hesitant to get cards is because they believe they will be kept on a list which could be accessed by potential future employers.
“Like any other hospital, we must follow the HIPPA Heath Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This means that we must keep all patient records completely private,” Shiple said. “The only reason someone could ever find out about your prescription is if you tell them.”
New prescriptions, which are good for one year, cost $89 and card renewals are $79. A UC Davis student who has already been prescribed a card, but preferred to remain anonymous, said he is excited about the new facility opening locally.
“I think that a clinic opening up in Davis will give students, and the people of Davis, an opportunity to use medicinal marijuana as an alternative health treatment option, whereas it has not been accepted before,” said the student, a sophomore philosophy major. “I think it is a very progressive move by the city of Davis.”
Marijuana is prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, nausea and symptoms associated with treatment for cancer patients. The student said medicinal marijuana has helped his insomnia.
“I had trouble falling and staying asleep and sleeping pills weren’t working for me,” the student said. “My doctor suggested I try medical marijuana. I went to a friendly clinic in my hometown, and I have to say it’s helped my insomnia.”
While medicinal marijuana has caused some conflict in California regarding whether it should remain available or not, it seems that Davis is a more open environment when it comes to the issue.
“I’m okay with people smoking marijuana, I’m just not okay with the government sending mixed signals regarding the drug,” said Maxine Sarai, a sophomore international relations major. “It’s “illegal, yet very easy to get access of, and if caught the punishment isn’t that bad.”
While Sarai said she doesn’t have a problem with people using marijuana, she said she does not use it habitually and has some concerns as to its legitimacy as a medicine.
“I don’t know very much about medical marijuana, but I believe that it is very easy to get a club card,” said Sarai. “So I think the term ‘medical’ is silly, because how many of the people are really using it for medical reasons?”
Shiple remains insistent that the drug is effective as a medicine. He said it is a much better option than many other self-medicating habits Californians have and that the cards are only given out to those with legitimate needs.
“You need a signed diagnosis of medical marijuana-treatable symptoms we bring to the resident doctor here, who will recommend you for a prescription card based off the legitimacy of your need for the drug,” he said. “We aren’t just going to give you a card for no reason.”
AARON WEISS can be reached at email@example.com.