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A new medical-marijuana center in Tucson takes a one-stop-shop approach

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A couple of months back, I decided Tucson was beginning to suck a little more than Phoenix, at least by one measure, because we didn't have any fun and exciting medical-marijuana clubs or pot superstores or other places to celebrate our newfound MMJ-ness. (See "Phoenix Doesn't Suck," Nov. 3.)

All we had were a few sign-wavers and some dingy clinics.

Well, things have changed a little since I wrote that. We might not have any superstores, but we do have a few spots where patients can get meds; caregivers can get patients; and everyone can get some information.

Want to know how to make hashish and get some free MMJ out of the deal? Tumbleweeds Health Center can hook you up. Opened two months ago by two Cali transplants, the health center on East Broadway Boulevard takes a one-stop shopping approach to MMJ. They offer certifications, classes on growing and cooking, explanation of rules, and personal consultation on whatever MMJ topic you need to explore.

Co-owner Kim Williams grew up in California's Napa Valley, the heart of wine country. The 41-year-old suffers from fibromyalgia, scoliosis and pain from car accidents, but she didn't get a medical-marijuana card until 2005, nine years after MMJ came to California.

Williams has lived in Tucson and the Phoenix area off and on for 20 years. When Arizona voters passed the Medical Marijuana Act in 2010, she decided to come back. She and her partner (in life and at Tumbleweeds), Dana Rae Zygmunt, originally planned to open a dispensary in Colorado, but they came here instead when Arizona became an MMJ state.

Then Gov. Jan Brewer threw her wrench in the works. It seemed there would be no dispensaries—until Gov. Jan saw the light last week and halted her incessant legal wrangling. The state's nearly 18,000 patients are still stuck in limbo, many of them wondering where to get medication without dispensaries.

"When we moved here, we were kind of stuck looking on Craigslist," Kim said.

So she decided to get a lawyer and consider options. The Tumbleweeds paradigm seemed perfect—it is not a dispensary or a club. There is no membership fee covering the cost of medication. All medication transactions are cost-free, and either patient-patient or caregiver-patient.

The daily tuition at the center is $55, for which you get a consultation, a lecture, a demonstration (on Jan. 14, it was hash-making), access to the library and free meds from another patient or caregiver.

"We've seen patients exchange 3 to 4 grams of medication," Williams said.

Several MMJ strains are available, including sativa strains for keeping your eyes open during the day, and indica-leaning ones to close them if you suffer from sleep disturbance. The center website lists the indica strain Kryptonite, Green Crack (a sativa-heavy hybrid), Blue Dream (sativa, a Mr. Smith favorite), outdoor Blue Dream, Pineapple OG (another sativa strain) and Afghani Goo (indica).

If you aren't certified for MMJ, Tumbleweeds can help you there, too. You can make a doctor's appointment through the website for a $150 certification.

A key goal of the health center is to connect patients and caregivers, and, ultimately, to connect patients with medication. So on Saturday, Jan. 21, the center will host a 1 p.m. meet-and-greet to launch a planned networking service for patients and caregivers. The event is open to the public.

Williams and Zygmunt hope to cultivate Tumbleweeds into a full-service health center where people can get free MMJ after paying for health services such as massages, yoga classes or acupuncture.

So it seems we are moving along nicely toward less suckage here at the base of the black hill. Methinks we suck less than Phoenix again. As it should be.

For more information, visit www.tumbleweedshealthcenter.com; call 838-4430; email thctucson@gmail.com; or stop by 5301 E. Broadway Blvd. Tumbleweeds is open 5 to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday; and noon to 4 p.m., Saturday. If those hours don't work, call for an appointment.

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