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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is Los Osos Ready To Go To Pot?

In a Dec 10, 2009 story in the Bay News, editor Neil Ferrell profiled Rich Donald. Mr. Donald is presently running an official 215/SB420-compliant medical marijuana cooperative. Called Cannafornia Health Services (www.cannafornia.org) it is a home delivery service for people with medical marijuana prescriptions. They can log onto the site or call 1-888-926-8420 and once their paperwork/prescriptions are confirmed, they can order their medical marijuana in a variety of forms – smoked, vaporized, edible, etc. – and it will be delivered to their door.

Which is a far cry from having sick people having to drive to Santa Barbara to the dispensary there. But while a to-your-door delivery service is an improvement, an official Dispensary would be able to offer a far wider range of services, including nutritional help as well as other “wellness” therapies under one roof. Which is why Mr. Ferrell held a public information forum at Sea Pines Golf Resort on Saturday, Dec 12th, to sound out the possibility of opening a Medical Marijuana Dispensary somewhere in Los Osos.

And Why Los Osos? you may ask. Because various city fathers have closed the door on any dispensaries at this point, so the only remaining places would be communities “in the County.” Since the BOS has not yet taken an official vote on the matter, I emailed the Supervisors and asked the following question: “Presuming [Mr. Donald] jumps through the proper zoning, Planning, Coastal Commission, regulatory hoops, and etc. would you officially support and vote to allow a licensed medical marijuana dispensary to be opened either here in Los Osos or anywhere under your County jurisdiction?”

Only Supervisor Gibson replied: “I support the idea of compassionate use of marijuana. Whether or not I would support a particular project depends on a lot of details that I’d need to see analyzed.

My biggest concern is that a dispensary not act as a thinly disguised emporium for recreational use. That was the biggest issue for me on the proposal that we rejected in Templeton a while back – the operator clearly had some issues and security would have been a problem.

“There are obviously some legal issues, including whether dispensaries are legal at all under Prop 215 and subsequent legislation (not to mention the federal issues). The recent flurry of openings in the L.A. area is pushing these questions to court soon, and it may be best for us if we could see how they play out.

“So, in short, I think it would be possible to approve a dispensary, but the bar will be set very high.

“I think the real solution here is probably to legalize marijuana (either at the state, or preferably the federal level.) Then we could tax it and use some of the proceeds to treat those with addiction problems. This idea is gaining ground in some unusual places – the most conservative rural counties in the state, which are overwhelmed with illegal and semi-legal growing and distribution activity. The next could of years will be very interesting. . . . “

Gibson touches on one of the peculiarities that surrounds both marijuana and “medical” marijuana and it’s this: Given a choice between easing the suffering of sick and dying people and the possibility that some of these people might “get high” from the drug, and/or that some of the people using the dispensary might not really be “sick” but faking it with a prescription from a hack Doctor Feelgood, and/or some underage kids might game the system and get some quality “medical marijuana” rather than the street junk they’re buying now, City Fathers everywhere will always go with suffering. It’s a reverse of our old mantra that it’s better that ten guilty men go free rather than that one innocent man be wrongly hanged. In the case of medical marijuana, it’s better that sick, dying people be allowed to unnecessarily suffer, rather than one fake pothead gets his hands on a better class of drug than the street junk he’s now smoking and gets high.

All of which is the result of America’s streak of a weirdly puritanical and muddled insanity that runs through our DNA: Suffering is GOOD since we’re all Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God, so ingesting a substance that alleviates pain and suffering is BAD. And heaven help us if we even think about ingesting a substance “recreationally” that makes us feel good and giddy and silly and mildly addles our brains. That’s BAD since it’s a sign of moral lack and indicative of a person going down the slippery slope of sloth and sin and heading directly for the Devil’s Playground.

Except in the case of alcohol and tobacco and a variety of other brain-addling, addictive prescription drugs, in which case, Well, that’s O.K.

It does make for some pretty silly pretzel twisting in logic. For example, Pot Dispensaries are banned by City Fathers who declare that they will “attract crime,” yet nowhere have I heard City Fathers slapping a moratorium on pharmacies as crime magnets. And I have yet to see a gaggle of “criminals” hanging around outside The Medicine Shoppe here on Los Osos Valley Road. And Lord knows, The Medicine Shoppe is loaded with serious, serious “drugs.” (And, O irony, located right next door is The Smoke Shop, legally selling one of the most lethal drugs around. Don’t see any “criminals” hanging around the Smoke Shop, though.)

No, our approach to “drugs” is generally nuts and hypocritical and profoundly damaging. But we do dearly love our insanity. Which is why it will likely be a long, uphill battle to ensure that Our Elected Officials actually follow the law – Prop 215 – providing, of course, they can figure it out since it tangles with Federal Law and that law will likely remain unchanged so long as politicians can demagogue it for their own political advantage.

In California, things may get even more complicated since there’s a ballot measure coming up that would legalize marijuana. The special interests groups are gearing up for battle, “The Children” (you know, those poor dears who need saving – from pot, from the gays, from tax & spend Democrats) will be duly trotted out for the television ads, the alcohol industry’s war chest is undoubtedly growing by barrels full and from the polls, it will be a very close, fiercely fought issue.

In the meantime, an Op/Ed piece in the L.A. Times seemed to offer a pretty common sense approach: Until pot gets legalized (and taxed and regulated like liquor and tobacco), treat medical dispensaries like bars and liquor stores: Issue dispensary licenses (properly vetting the owners), site them under liquor sale/store-zoning laws, and check them regularly for violations. Done. Problem over.

Won’t happen, of course. Too sensible. We’re a Nation Stuck on Stupid. Of course, if pot is legalized, then California will be, like, Dude, a State Stuck on High Stupid. Not much improvement. Although sales of Cheeze Doodles will skyrocket.

Meantime, in this county at least, if you’re desperately ill and you and your doctor thinks you can benefit from medical marijuana, you might as well call Cannafornia (or the several other delivery dispensers) since I wouldn’t wait around for anything to change soon.

I mean, who knows whether or not the upcoming pot-legalization bill will pass and if it does, it’ll likely be appealed. And anyway, even if it does pass, the Feds can refuse to recognize it and/or will take forever to get around to changing their laws concerning medical marijuana. And even if Mr. Donald does go ahead with his plans, the County Sups can nitpick, delay or roadblock any decision until the moon turns blue with cold. All of which could take years and years and years and years, by which time you’ll be dead.

Which is how we Americans like it. Relief from suffering is for Godless Commie Pinko Anti-American Weenies. Real Americans stick to Jack Daniels, like God intended!

13 comments:

Aaron said...

Good article, Ann.

Quick, hide the cookie dough and the tortilla chips!

Churadogs said...

Dude, Git yer own cheese doodles!

In additon to the upcoming ballot initiative (prepare for hypocritical thundering and ballrels of hyperventilating lies: The Children! The Children!) there's a couple of court cases chugging along that may be solved earlier. It is a tangled mess no matter how you look at it. All preventable if we'd been a Sane Nation.

annerallen said...

There's also the matter of the seething drug wars between the cartels that our insane prohibition of marijuana has created at our southern border.

It's only a matter of time before the horrors of those wars spill into our own cities, as we make these drug lords richer and more powerful by the year.

Very good point that the Oxycontin addicts are not hanging around Rite Aid luring our children into a life of crime, and it's not likely to happen with a well-run pot dispensary either.

alabamasue said...

Anne A - The drug wars south of the border are more about 'hard' drugs like cocaine rather than 'soft' drugs like marijuana. Most of the grass smoked around here comes from northern CA, and believe me, it gets pretty nasty up there too. The difference here is that the individual poking around where he/she shouldn't will likely be caught in a booby trap and die. In Central/South America it's more likely your family will be targeted also. Whole different kettle of fish.

Churadogs said...

The sad thing is in Alzheimer's Nation, we learn nothing, ever. Prohibition's lessons were all forgotten. Interestingly, if you track drug usage over the years, it remains pretty darn steady with small upticks of the drug du jour, followed by publicity and a down tick. The truth is that you're always dealing with a bell curve: X % of people will live and die addicts, Y% will get addicted and eventually, if they're lucky, get unaddicted;and the vast majority either try drugs a few times or never bother and never get addicted. The trick is to reduce the HARM the drugs do, and that includes not wasting money and resources on jail and criminalization of what is a bio/medical issue. (We don't put people in jail to "cure" their diabetes) Sadly, had even a fraction of the money wasted on criminalization been spent on R&D, it's likely we'd have all kinds of interesting "blocker" drugs available to counter the "medically/genetically fragile" addicts that would "cure" their particular addiction.Plus, it's my suspicion that a lot of people with varying levels of bi-polar issues, for example, are using drugs as self medication. R&D for those biochemical issues would prevent that misuse as well. (You don't cure a headache with a hammer; you don't cure bi-polar with alcohol, or meth or pot or cocaine & & etc.)

Aaron said...

You don't "cure" anything with alcohol. I wonder if there are any alcohol "dispensaries" for those who need them. Wait, those are called bars -- and alcohol is legal.

You will always have that bell curve of addiction with any intoxicating agent, but the question is whether prohibiting certain substances would do more harm than the substances that are legally obtainable without the red tape.

There was a documentary on VH1 called the Drug Years and that show did an excellent job in portraying Ann's perception of drug usage trends (the documentary even goes as far back as the 1950s). You have the drug du jour, the publicity and the down tick. Fascinating stuff.

Churadogs said...

Aaron sez:"You don't "cure" anything with alcohol. I wonder if there are any alcohol "dispensaries" for those who need them. Wait, those are called bars -- and alcohol is legal."

Also interesting is the way we speak about "drugs and alcohol," like they're two separate things. We also view drugs AND alcohol differently in this culture, and make very different assumptions about them, and therein lies the problem. Imagine a newspaper ad touting a restaurant inviting all to a grand New Year's Celebration Dinner which shows pictures of some bongs along with silly hats and confetti. People would be OUTRAGED! Smoke pot at a New Year's Eve party? What are you, some kind of DRUGFIEND? Yet there's the ads complete with pictures of champagne bottles and glasses with the expectation that one will drink this "drug" in order to celebrate the New Year. It will be expected. No questions asked. Social norm.

Drugs AND alcohol. And the weird advice from drug (alcohol) pushers, "Remember to always drink responsibly." They'd never say, "Remember, always get drugged responsibly." And you never hear, "Don't get drugged and drive."

Nope, interesting cultural separation between two "legal" drugs that keeps us all in happy denial that alcohol isn't a drug.Or that these drugs aren't somehow drugs, because they're legal.

Same thing with cigarettes. Imagine ads with some guy lighing up and the announcer says, "Ah, there's nothing a nicotine addict needs more than that early morning fix! Welcome to (koff-koff) Marlborogh Country."

Aaron said...

Every time I see those kinds of newspaper ads and commercials, I ask rhetorically, "Well, how are you going to get home?" What's the end-result? These commercials make drinking alcohol synonymous with having a good time -- and that part is true for some people, but this legalized agent will impair one's ability to function normally.

Then, like you said, we have prescription drugs. In my opinion, that's more dangerous than having a dispensary. The pharmaceutical industry has a tight grip on doctors. You can probably go into a doctor's office, complain about a headache and ask for Oxycotin and chances are they'll give it to you if you describe your pain in a vivid way. What's to stop you from going to a pharmacy and asking for a refill?

I haven't seen any pharmacy closings.

Our society is plagued with double-standards and the issue of legalizing drugs is one of them. I would love to see an argument made by people against marijuana dispensaries that can overcome the cherry-picking logical fallacies.

Spectator said...

If you got it, or can get it, smoke it, inject it, sniff it, or eat it. But please use it at home.

Be it booze, boo, smack, blow, or whatever. The more, the happier, and please die happy quickly.

I am tired of paying tax dollars to help keep dope addicts alive, so if they use and support themselves, let them use all they want.

But I would be glad to give them all the dope they want. How about you? Just let them be happy!

But don't let them drive a car! Might inadvertently run over one of Ann's doggies.

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