Michigan Compassion launched in January and says it is the state’s only federally recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated solely to medical cannabis education and advocacy. The organization is one of only four in the country to be granted this nonprofit status, according to its Wednesday press release.
Michigan Compassion says it is different from most medical marijuana organizations because it does not dispense cannabis and cannot lobby. Its mission is to help the public, patients and healthcare professionals understand what medical cannabis is, and what conditions can be helped by it.
The organization also helps patients and professionals navigate the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, passed in 2008 by 63 percent of voters, along with all the recent related bills and changes to the MMMA.Michigan Compassion, formerly known as the Downriver Community Compassion Club, upon the approval of its 501(c)3 expanded its name and outreach to help all of Michigan with continuing education about the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act and medical cannabis.
Michigan Compassion was founded by a medical cannabis patient who has experienced firsthand the benefits of its use.
“Through my own experience using cannabis and the improvement I saw in my health and that of others, I realized there was a need for a statewide organization dedicated to bringing awareness to those who didn’t understand or know about the law or medicinal value of this plant,” explained Heidi Parikh, executive director and founder of Michigan Compassion.
Parikh pointed out that there are many organizations around the state that support the use of medical cannabis, but none are recognized by the federal government as 501(c)3 nonprofit. The political nature of the medical marijuana issue led Parikh and her supporters to differentiate from dispensary-like clubs so they could raise funds for advocacy efforts and be recognized as a vetted charitable organization.
In December 2012, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office granted approval to Michigan Compassion to solicit in the State of Michigan for cannabis and cancer awareness. Soon after, the first cannabis awareness billboards went up on major highways in southeast Michigan with the message, “The Answer to Cancer, Cannabis.”
Though some may consider this a provocative message, it would only be natural to start with cancer first, according to Parikh, considering there is often no time to waste in getting treatment. The billboards will eventually be posted throughout the state.
Michigan Compassion continues to take medical cannabis mainstream, according to Parikh, as it has become the only nonprofit medical marijuana organization in the country to receive a “lifetime” grant from Google. Parikh says the yearly $240,000 in-kind donation will be used to heighten Michigan Compassion’s profile in search engines and gain it national visibility.
Michigan Compassion currently operates by a volunteer board of directors and is funded through donations, memberships, and in-kind services. It also has planned giving options and corporate sponsorships.
The organization has earned the GuideStar Exchange Seal, demonstrating its commitment to transparency. It is currently exploring the possibility of opening chapters in other areas of the state.
For more information, visit www.mycompassion.org or call 734.931.0620.