By Heather Lalley
They started filing into a Spokane hotel meeting room not long after 8 a.m. Wednesday, clutching folders stuffed with paperwork.
A young woman in a pink "on the naughty list" T-shirt. An older man with gray stubble. Another man helping a child with a coloring book. Some limped in, others walked with canes and others appeared healthy.
But they all shared a goal: To qualify for doctor authorization to possess medical marijuana.
More than 50 people had appointments scheduled Wednesday at Spokane's monthly medical marijuana clinic at the Quality Inn. No walk-ins allowed.
"We've got a shortage of chairs and tables," said Henrik Rode, a Portland man working the check-in table. "A lot of times I feel more like a bouncer than a welcomer."
For the past year and a half, The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation in Portland has held monthly clinics in Spokane, in addition to several Oregon cities, Denver, and Honolulu and Hilo, Hawaii. The clinics have been so popular in Spokane that organizers are considering adding a second day each month.
Most of the patients suffer from chronic pain, but the Spokane clinic also draws a significant number of people with multiple sclerosis, given the high rate of the disease in the area, said Paul Stanford, THCF's founder.
Since 2001, the group has seen some 17,000 patients, about half of whom were seeking new prescriptions; the others wanted to renew their authorizations, Stanford said.