Few people showed for a medical marijuana education forum that aimed to focus on compliance and changes to the law.

After cancelling last year’s forum when nobody showed up, this year’s event held by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office was more of a conversation between law enforcement and Democratic candidates for County Commission. Kacey Helton, Kristina Drake, and Alex Hansen made up the bulk of the attendance that also included one representative from the Livingston County Community Alliance and one from Livingston Catholic Charities.

Lieutenant Eric Sanborn and County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt updated the candidates on changes made by the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, in the past year. Chief among those are medical conditions added to be allowed. Among those are arthritis, autism, Parkinson ’s disease, Tourette’s, and chronic pain. Chronic pain actually accounts for 93% of medical marijuana cards issued. Not added to the list were those suffering from anxiety, asthma, a brain injury, depression, diabetes, or non-severe chronic pain.

When Sanborn was asked how easy the current laws are to enforce, he said the ambiguity of it makes it difficult. He said, like any other law, they’re out there to enforce it, but they aren’t out there hunting anybody or knocking on doors doing spot checks. He and other officers shared that it’s people drawing attention to themselves for other potential crimes as being when their non-compliance on marijuana laws often come to surface.

Vailliencourt was asked if he had information on the number of patients and caregivers in Livingston County. He said by the most recent report, there are 4,234 patients and 693 caregivers.

As for the repeated poor attendance the Lieutenant said they possibly could have done a better job promoting the event. Candidate Drake said that the event was definitely more open and welcoming than she anticipated with it being run by law enforcement. She suggested that if it was run by people not in uniform, it might have gotten a better turn out. She credited the Sheriff and Prosecutor’s Offices for still being open with them and thought the conversation was great. Candidate Helton echoed those thoughts, and added that in the future, they consider live streaming the forum so that people who are homebound can participate. (MK)