A medical marijuana patient inhales through a vaporizer near a dispensary in Purdy. Photo by Peter Ruble, KP News

The medical marijuana community is flourishing in the Key Peninsula region despite the fact that marijuana collective gardens are illegal in Washington state, according to a statement made by the Washington State Court of Appeals on March 31.

A medical marijuana collective garden is a place where those who provide medical marijuana can help those who currently do not grow or have their own. This community could be in further danger if new laws are enacted in the summer of 2014 that would put the State Liquor Control Board in charge of dispensing marijuana for medical and recreational use.

Nick Hetterscheidt, who manages the Key Peninsula Healing Center collective garden off of State Route 302, claims that new marijuana laws will end his business. Hetterscheidt runs what he calls a safe environment for marijuana in a “clinical” setting.

“The state sees our customers as theirs,” said Hetterscheidt. “They’re looking for revenue and couldn’t care less about the patients. They want to keep it as a recreational drug and would rather have it classified like cigarettes and alcohol and they want to put medical marijuana users on a state registry list.”

He has seen medical marijuana effectively treat sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and has witnessed it help cancer patients who were struggling to regain their appetites. “It’s less addictive than prescription drugs and it works instantly,” Hetterscheidt said.

Jamie Chaplin, who is a member of the Key Peninsula Healing Center, says that medical marijuana has effectively treated her husband’s depression and bipolar disorder. Chaplin says that her husband was not responding to prescription drugs and was suffering from their side effects before using medical marijuana.

Cholon French, who owns Harbor Alternative Wellness in Purdy, said that medical marijuana is 100 times safer than prescription medication. “It’s been a blessing for me and my patients,” said French, who has treated people suffering from Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia. French also uses marijuana to treat his own back pain.

Harbor Alternative Wellness provides smokeless methods of using marijuana such as brownies, candy, soft drinks, dog treats and vaporizers. Vaporizers are metal or glass devices that help extract THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, while eliminating the harmful carcinogens caused by smoking.

“I switched to vaporizing and it’s awesome,” said Chris Hetterscheidt, who manages a smoke shop named The Glass Cave near Key Center that sells vaporizers and other smoking devices.

Hetterscheidt said he uses marijuana to treat his nausea and has seen disabled veterans and cancer patients come into his shop frequently.

According to Hetterscheidt, most doctors receive kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing their medication when medical marijuana could make it unnecessary.

Information on medical marijuana can be found at the-greener-way.org.

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