Wall Street Journal's Front Page Covers Medical Marijuana In California

[Editor’s Note: Do an online search on ‘marijuana’ and ‘legalization’. One word: momentum. Further evidence is found today with the front page story about medical cannabis and the ‘NORMLization’ of cannabis in general in America’s business newspaper of record. The article partly profiles NORML board member Dale Gieringer and former NORML director Richard Cowan.
BTW, check out the online photos and videos in the original article.]

With ‘Med Pot’ Raids Halted, Selling Grass Grows Greener
By JUSTIN SCHECK and STU WOO
JULY 23, 2009
—————
LAKE FOREST, Calif. — Sellers of marijuana as a medicine here don’t fret about raids any more. They’ve stopped stressing over where to hide their stash or how to move it unseen.
Now their concerns involve the state Board of Equalization, which collects sales tax and requires a retailer ID number. Or city planning offices, which insist that staircases comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Then there is marketing strategy, which can mean paying to be a “featured dispensary” on a Web site for pot smokers.
After years in the shadows, medical marijuana in California is aspiring to crack the commercial mainstream.
“I want to do everything I can to run this as a legitimate business,” says Jan Werner, 55 years old, who invested in a pot store in a shopping mall after 36 years as a car salesman.
State voters decreed back in 1996 that Californians had a right to use marijuana for any illness — from cancer to anorexia to any other condition it might help. But supplying “med pot” remained risky. The ballot measure didn’t specify who could sell it or how. The state provided few guidelines, leaving local governments to impose a patchwork of restrictions. Above all, because pot possession remained illegal under U.S. law, sellers had to worry about federal raids.
But in February, the Justice Department said it would adhere to President Barack Obama’s campaign statement that federal agents no longer would target med-pot dealers who comply with state law. Since then, vendors who had kept a low profile have begun to expand, and entrepreneurs who had avoided cannabis have begun to invest.
Some now are using traditional business practices like political lobbying and supply-chain consolidation. Others are seeking capital or offering investment banking for pot purveyors. In Oakland, a school offers courses such as “Cannabusiness 102” and calls itself Oaksterdam University, after the pot-friendly Dutch city. As shops proliferate, there are even signs the nascent industry could be heading for another familiar business phenomenon: the bubble.
Medical use of pot now is legal in 13 states. It is also facing some resistance. New Hampshire’s Democratic governor, John Lynch, vetoed a med-pot bill this month, citing inadequate safeguards. Los Angeles, which passed a moratorium on new dispensaries in 2007, is trying to close a loophole that has led to an explosion of new ones.
John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California Peace Officers’ Association, objects to “the notion that marijuana is safe and can be used for any and all purposes to heal any and all ailments,” adding: “There are 34 different elements in marijuana smoke that are shared with tobacco.” He and others also complain about the ease with which patients can get pot recommendations from certain doctors.
Still, at a time of deep recession, the med-pot business is attracting career switchers. Mr. Werner was the sales manager of a Chrysler dealership, and dismayed with the collapse of car sales. He had a doctor’s recommendation to smoke pot, for pain from a spinal condition. One day a car-dealer friend, Bill Shofner, who also had a pot recommendation (for migraines), suggested: Why not become pot vendors?
Each invested $40,000. Following state guidelines, they set up as a nonprofit, called Lake Forest Community Collective, from which they would draw salaries.
It is on the second floor of a strip mall in the Los Angeles suburb of Lake Forest that also houses Mexican restaurants and a Peet’s Coffee shop. A customer first encounters a brightly lit front room with a security window and an Obama poster, then is buzzed into a vestibule with an ATM. Beyond that is a spotless room with glass cases displaying pot in pill bottles.
Scribbled on a board are prices, from $10 to $25 a gram, for different strains: Sour Diesel, Purple Urkel, Bubba Hash. Sour Diesel is popular, says a volunteer, and “really potent.”
This still is a far cry from, say, Amsterdam, where pot remains illegal but authorities are so tolerant that pot is available in coffeehouses.
In California, pot sales, legal and illegal, are estimated to total $14 billion a year. Medical marijuana makes up maybe an eighth of that, says Dale Gieringer, director of the state’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He estimates the state has three million pot smokers, including 350,000 with doctors’ recommendations.
The state taxes med-pot sales, and on Tuesday, the city of Oakland added its own special tax.
In Lake Forest, Messrs. Werner and Shofner pay about $4,000 for a pound of marijuana, retailing it for about $6,000. They don’t break even yet, the two say.
The business is a little like selling cars in one way, Mr. Shofner says: The longer they hold their stock, the less it is worth. Aging marijuana loses both potency and weight.
Med-pot sellers say they generally avoid marijuana from Mexican cartels; the risks are higher and the quality is lower. Messrs. Werner and Shofner say they at first bought largely from far-northern California, where clandestine growers also supply the underground market.
For reasons of cost and consistency, they have been taking fuller control of the supply chain. A few months ago they gave money to members of their collective for grow lamps and other equipment, and now they get much of their supply from them. “It’s like McDonald’s” making deals with potato farmers, Mr. Werner says.
Some vendors are toying with another familiar business model: vertical integration. In pot, that means growing as well as dealing. This was a risky approach when a federal raid could cost an owner his pot, his computers and maybe even his liberty. Now, one Los Angeles-area med-pot vendor says he has acquired land in Northern California and begun to grow his own.
Mr. Werner and his partner recently decided to expand. They signed leases for two new outlets.
They also have lost their wariness of advertising. The proliferation of dealers makes promotion essential. The two now pay several hundred dollars a month for ads on Web sites like Weedmaps.com, which helps people find medical pot.
Justin Hartfield, who started Weedmaps, says it has grown quickly to about $20,000 in monthly revenue, half from ads.
The rest comes from referring people to doctors who recommend pot. Mr. Hartfield bills the doctors $20 for each patient he sends them. The American Medical Association ethics code says payment for referrals is unethical. Mr. Hartfield says the doctors are keenly aware of the ethics issue and consider their payments not to be fees for referral but “advertising fees that change every month.”
Shane Stuart, 23, says he used to buy weed from street dealers but in February saw an online ad for a pot-friendly doctor. He realized then, he says, that medical marijuana was becoming more mainstream and having a pot ID card wouldn’t hurt him with employers. He came away from a $200 doctor visit with a note recommending pot for pain from a hyperextended knee.
Mr. Hartfield, the Weedmaps impresario, has a doctor’s recommendation for marijuana “to ease my anxiety and help with my insomnia.” Mr. Hartfield says the med-pot system is really just a way of legalizing marijuana for anyone who wants to smoke. He says his anxiety/insomnia isn’t really serious enough to require treatment. “I’m fine. I don’t really have it,” he says. “The medical system is a total farce. I’m an example of that. It just needs to be legal.”
Med-pot advocates say marijuana can ease chronic pain, spur appetite in anorexics or chemotherapy patients, and relieve eyeball pressure in glaucoma patients. The law voters approved in 1996 listed several conditions that might be helped but said so long as a doctor recommended pot, all “seriously ill Californians” had a right to it for “any…illness for which marijuana provides relief.”
David Allen, a former Mississippi heart surgeon, last month opened a general practice in Sacramento and listed himself on a Web site as a pot-friendly doctor. Marijuana, says Dr. Allen, 57, “helps the common conditions that affect every human being — for instance, anxiety, depression, insomnia and anorexia” — and can relieve certain arthritis symptoms and muscle-spasm conditions.
Still, he says, many of his patients are people who already used pot but just wanted a doctor’s recommendation to avoid legal trouble. “If I was to deny them, I would put them at more risk, and I’d be hurting society by doing this as well,” he says. “Cannabis is safer than aspirin.”
Dr. Allen smokes pot for insomnia, anxiety and stress. He says he quit heart surgery because what he does now is more lucrative. He says he doesn’t pay for referrals, a practice he considers unethical.
As the business matures, ancillary ventures are springing up. In Oakland, OD Media manages advertising and branding for about a dozen pot clients. An Oakland lawyer, James Anthony, and three partners have started a firm called Harborside Management Associates to give dealers business advice. A pot activist named Richard Cowan has opened what he envisions as an investment bank for pot-related businesses, called General Marijuana.
Mr. Cowan is also chief financial officer of Cannabis Science Inc., which is trying to market a pot lozenge for nonsmokers. It was founded by Steve Kubby, a longtime medical-marijuana advocate who a decade ago was acquitted of a pot-growing charge but briefly jailed for having illegal mushrooms in his home. Mr. Kubby says there is “no more alternative culture” at the company, which went public in March and has hired a former pharmaceutical-industry scientist to try to win Food and Drug Administration approval for the lozenge. Mr. Kubby left as CEO this month in a dispute with the board.
Part of the opposition medical marijuana continues to face is rooted in concern that unsavory characters from the illegal-drugs business will get involved. The city attorney of Lake Forest, where Messrs. Werner and Shofner have their store, recently sent a letter to the landlords of pot
dispensaries asking them to evict tenants. Mr. Shofner says he reached a settlement with his landlord to stay.
To defend their interests, some pot proprietors are hiring lobbyists. Messrs. Shofner and Werner pay consulting fees to Ryan Michaels, a political organizer with an expertise in med-pot compliance issues.
There are signs medical pot’s increasing business legitimacy is crowding the market. A 20-mile stretch of Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley now has close to 100 places to buy. “So many dispensaries have come along, the prices are dropping,” says one operator, Calvin Frye. Two years ago, his least expensive pot was about $60 for an eighth of an ounce. Now it is $45.
Across the country, a med-pot bill is working its way through New York’s state legislature. If it makes it, entrepreneurs are getting ready.
Larry Lodi, a 49-year-old Little League umpire from Long Island, spent two days at Oaksterdam University in May, learning the fine points of cultivation and distribution. Mr. Lodi envisions a business that would link the growers and the sellers of medical marijuana. “I want to be the middleman,” he says.
Write to Justin Scheck at justin.scheck@wsj.com and Stu Woo at Stu.Woo@wsj.com

0 thoughts

  1. I have been filled with pride and happiness in the last 6 months. A Dispensary opened up in my home town. I was a little worried about the number of patients a caregiver bieng reduced to 5 here in CO. But NORML gave me the good news that this wasnt going to happen.There is still a lot of work to do. Every state where Pot isnt legal for medical reasons needs to change there laws. Its a trip seeing the difference in laws. In Pheonix in Az you can still go to jail for a year for any amount and medical is just as illegal.
    Most of us realize that full legalization control and taxation is what is and what has to happen. But it fill me with happiness that thousands and eventually hundreds and thousands and millions of sick people won’t and dont have to face idiotic draconian prosecution.

  2. I really think now is the time to get the word out.
    Couple good advertising ideas:
    Get Ricky Williams ex-Saint to be on some commercials. He could say I risked my 100 million dollar contract for a little weed dont bitch to me about your $10/hr job.
    Dont show any faces but ask “Who would have been our last 3 presidents, the fastest swimmer in the world, or half of our entertainers or pro athelets if any of these people would have been arrested for simple weed possession?”
    If California can get medical marijuana passed like it is other states can do it too. We need to try to get it on for a popular vote. Tell these politicans this is our will grant it or we will elect people that will.

  3. I just wish Texas would get a life and ease up. It is still a favorite among cops here to bust for weed and the sentences are way out of line. I want to move anyway, I miss the mountains.

  4. DECRIMINALIZE CAN NEVER BE THE ANSWER!!
    the cannabis & HEMP need to grow people! we want responsible growers and access providers making the profits in the supply and consumption chain.
    not mexican cartels & cops paid overtime to raid cannabis farms of cash & little flowering girls. get over it nation.
    OBAMA WAKE UP TO EVERY RECENT POLL CONCERNING CANNABIS. Now take your power to educate the masses on both HEMP & the actual stats & power of cannabis. MAKE IT HAPPEN. Have Ron Paul help explain everything for you.

  5. come out of the closet cannabis users!
    and get as many virgins stoned as possible, or at least argue with them the rational expediency of our NATIONAL PAUSE FOR THE CAUSE.
    YES WE CANNABIS!!!
    &HEMP 2!

  6. What i would do is i would grow cannabis for all its purposes and provide my own fuel fiber for clothing food and medicine. eventually i’d open up a gas station, they even said they arent profiting yet, i could make a killing off of growing cannabis for fuel.
    Honestly i dont’ think the U.S. even exsists anymore its a figment of our imaginations. Distracting people and pigeonholing cannabis to only recreational and medical use as well as restricting cultivation in any way is a way to control information and to guide opinions to the wanted conclusions wether they be real or just illusions.

  7. I would qualify as a federal criminal i assume since i’ve consumed cannabis for several years of my life…sometimes even traveling across state borders with the odoriferous plant for personal use. but i do pass the j. well i’m calling bullshit. i don’t want to take being stigmatized by such hypocrites any longer. please help! Please spread knowledge so that we can free hemp and cannabis across the Americas!
    my father died homeless related to his alcoholism. his father died of lung cancer associated with years of smoking tobacco. in california i choose to vaporize cannabis and not consume alcohol, big pharma, or smoke tobacco. i will live a long and healthy life and pay LOTS OF TAXES. GET OUT OF MY LIFE GOVERMENT. lets move forward as a NATION.
    end the unjust & doomed to fail prohibition on cannabis and HEMP.

  8. it is time for CALIFORNIA TO SECEDE as we are about to go bankrupt.
    the government isn’t going to bail us out? they are going to sentence our cannabis users to jail? DEA GO AWAY. we’ll take all immigrants currently here. let any 1,2, 3, or 4 humans get consenually married. mind ‘YOUR OWN GOD’s DAMN’d” business as to what is going on consensually behind closed doors.
    in our wonderful new nation we’ll even let the little kids eat HEMP CEREAL. but as long as they are 18 they can cultivate and consume cannabis & ALCOHOL. they already do in HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE now they’ll just do it a little more moderately & intelligently.
    GAVIN NEWSOME LEAD THE OUSTING OF ARNOLD
    END THE UNJUST PROHIBITION ON CANNABIS, HEMP & consensual marriage.
    if we really want to lessen crime our new nation will BAN GUNS as well. let the cops run around flaunting there tazers they seem to love so much.

  9. Was perusing latest NORML blog-post about WSJ-article,
    then this little snippet of ersatz wisdumb-asininery
    too quickly drew my attention:

    John Lovell, a lobbyist for the
    California Peace Officers’ Association,
    objects to “the notion that marijuana is safe
    and can be used for any and all purposes to
    heal any and all ailments,”

    adding:
    “There are 34 different elements in marijuana
    smoke that are shared with tobacco.”

    This was the same S.W.I.N.E.
    I heard on an NPR interview earlier this year,
    erroneously-concluding that the $50 / oz tax on legalized-weed
    wouldn’t reduce drug-cartel trafficking, because the tax would
    make legally-available cannabis $50 more expensive than
    getting it from a drug-dealer…
    – ENOUGH with the fallacious-conclusions, SIR!!!
    Smoking is NOT the only means of consuming / utilizing cannabis!
    (Even though I favor an individual’s right to smoke,
    I would still dis-reccommend it as inefficient and less
    medically-efficacious than the myriad of smokeless-methods / forms…).

    – Ever hear of Low-Temperature VAPORIZATION, EDIBLES, TINCTURES,
    and OINTMENTS???
    – How many “different elements” present in cannabis-VAPOR
    are also shared with tobacco-VAPOR?
    Ummm, let’s see…
    Taking this LITERALLY,
    At least FOUR:
    (Beginning with the LIGHTEST atomic-elements first…).
    Hydrogen,
    Carbon,
    Nitrogen,
    Oxygen…

  10. The lack of Medical Marijuana Law’s, Here in Indiana. Their are 13 states with such laws, And thousands of people, Right here in Indiana are being arrested. For trying to live a Health and Happy life with out man made DRUGS! . My wife has a medical marijuana prescriptions from a doctor, from Florida. For her Brain Truman . She has Seizure’s and that stuff help her a lot! she has been doing this for over 20 years. and she has good liver and kidneys. The Doctors say If it was not for her using Medical Marijuana she would be inline for liver transplant! And hooked up to a kidney Unit twice a week
    1. Please Help the Serious sick people of Indiana .
    2. Michigan just passed such bill and that is where heading if Indiana elected people don’t act upon this factor.
    3. The new lied about everything. Said we had 100 pounds>? also 23 Marijuana plants,,NONE WAS GROWING,No illegal DRUGS where found ,,go to google, Type in Medical Marijuana Couple Muncie IN,,,ALL LIES Other then we has two small bags in the Refrigerator.For Her. The people that wrote that stuff should be held accountable.
    3.I have introduced a bill in 2007 to Senator Sue Errington and would like to put it on the floor to vote on. She needs more support and please talk to her about it. At S26@iga.in.gov
    We Bonnie & I are running out of time. No Government should put restraints on anyone suffering ( MMJ ) Medical Marijuana Its a Herb Made by GOD! CREATED ON THE 3RD DAY Genius 1:11-12 It’s the first page of the Bible. They have tried to send my wife home with Oxycottons, morphine, and she refuse that kind of Drugs. We are first class people and law abiding God Fearing people. The only thing she may not be doing is living the law of the land. Myself, I would rather having 6 trying her in court then carrying her to a hole in the ground. If you where in my shoes what would you do>>? I’m trying to change the law. Just asking for your help to change the law’s.
    Thank You Jeffrey & Bonnie Johnson Muncie, IN

  11. Why is it that we are first in war, and building weapons of mass destruction, but last in legalizing marijuana nationwide, we should really look at europe,and adopt, customize, there law. I think we’d be better off.

  12. Prohibitionists must be captured, jailed and tried for their crimes against humanity. Then they should be jailed, fined, removed from public office and disqualified from holding any public office of honor, trust or profit. They should also forfeit their right to bear arms, vote, etc. They should be denied student loans, be forced to live without effective medicine, be disqualified from liscensed professions, etc. This should all sound very familiar to them. Cannabis consumers must be paid full “war” reparations for damage prohibitionists inflicted during the war they started, the “war on drugs.” This would be justice.

  13. despite the governments 70 year war and evil portrayal against this magic plant………THE TRUTH WILL PREVAIL!
    the ease of communication and sharing of information coupled with the American people waking up and not being afraid to ask what the fuck when something IS NOT RIGHT AND IS UNJUST AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL! THIS SOMETHING BEING MARIJUANA LAWS!
    “FUCK THE GOVERNMENT, FUCK THEIR LIES, TOO MANY BIG PHARMA, TOBACCO, AND ALCOHOL TIES! I’VE HAD IT WITH ALL YOU GUYS, ITS 2009 TIME TO LEGALIZE, MY GREEN GREEN EYES! AND IF YOU WON’T THAT’S FINE, BUT FUCK YOUR NO SMOKING SIGN”
    an excerpt from my single “FUCK YOUR NO SMOKING SIGN”
    “FUCK YOUR NO SMOKING SIGN”
    listen here—> http://www.Myspace.com/AfterDeathEmergencyRoom

  14. 11 JEFF NEWMAN
    You’re stepping on a sensitive nerve when you buccinate
    for cessation…but really…California could hold its own without a fedearl government. We’ve considered that action. It could happen.
    13 JEFFREY & BONNIE
    You’ve got Genesis I:11,12 absolutely correct…but…go further to Genesis I:29,30,31, and Genesis IX:3. If “you understand what these say to you” there is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that’s federal law.
    15 MIKE STROUP
    You forgot stripping them of their citizenship…and
    …you’ve hit the right button on this one. Delete their plethoricall evil asses. They’re not any kind of American I want be associated with. Deport their asses to hell where they belong.

  15. to Jeffrey & Bonnie
    I live with a sufferer of anxiety and ADD. Both of these drugs are terrible and are very unhealthy! The ADD meds cause a loss of appetite and the anxiety medicine is VERY addictive. Why must we put more chemicals in our bodies that are unnatural.
    The marijuana that we are criminals for posessing is the only way for her to calm and stay okay.
    Indiana could benefit with all the farm land. Some people already do, but of course face prosecution.
    Thank you for the indiana help.
    Wouldn’t it be great if Lilly just bought some farm land and made some natural medicine?
    How dissapointing that we still have this battle when the majority of people want it legal.

  16. Heres a chilling thought:
    Was talking to a friend the other day about this great movement toward legaizztion. What if our leaders just relaxed the fed raids just so people would step out of the closet and shadows ,what if they suddenly reverse them selves and start arresting anyone having anything to do with cannabis. Ya it sounds sinister,but what about our government gives you the idea they arent sinister. They lie to us all the time,why would they stop now?
    Just a thought, as scary as it maybe.

  17. Heres a video I feel all Americans should listen to and consider..even if you dont agree to all in it. There is something there for everyone.

  18. It is interesting watching the back and forth movement of cannabis legalization. I think as the revenue stream continues to build the rest of the politicians will want in on the tax revenue. I think this will play out like gambling has over the last few years. Almost all states have some type of legal gambling now due to the money it generates. If California or any state lifts prohibition the rest of the country will follow after they see how much revenue is generated. The lower cost of law enforcement and unclogging of the court system will add to the whole economics of it. Money will be the motivating factor. It has ruled the government for many years and I don’t think that is going to change. The struggle will be between those who profit from prohibition and those that will profit from legal hemp. Guess who I am cheering for.

  19. The President and the Czae..have never,ever said that they were for the “LEGALIZATION” of Cannabis. That’s a FACT…whether you accept it or not.
    However, The president created the American Policy, ordered a stand down on medicinal dispensary raids, Issued his memo to departments & Agencies, and made the ONDCP a cabinet position…clipped its wings.
    The Czar pushed for Harm Reduction, which is the basis for the American Policy, which he introduced to the United Nations. He admitted to the public that he would follow the President’s Policy, and if you noticed will follow, as though he follows the ONDCP orders. He did say though…”I am ordered to Lie.”
    So…he’s telling the truth. Listen to what he is saying…read between the lines.
    I’m still going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don;t think he’s out of line………………YET!

  20. As long as people are in jail or are being busted for simple possession of cannabis, there is no progress in the struggle for cannabis. “Medical marijuana” is a false front. It is just a licnese to get high for people with sympathetic (corrupt) doctors. I guess Obama’s medical plan will make it possible for everyone to get some doctor to issue them a license to get high?

  21. We need you Californians to show that legalization of marijuana can be accomplished. Set a precedent for other states to follow and good luck!!!
    My friend spent 45 days in a Dallas County jail for 3 grams of pot…really embarrassing here in Texas….but Cali can make a monumental statement if pulled off. Go Go Go!!!

  22. The war “for the legalization” of drugs may certainly be as foolish as the war against drugs. Which ever your preference…we’re talking about an
    undeterminable amount of money and resources. Now! money may not be the root of all evil, rather the
    “love” of money is the root…nevertheless…a bird in the hand tickles. When your annual budget is 18 billion dollars a year…we’re talking about a fist full of feathers. Here’s my question: Do we pro-medicinal cannabis advocates have 18 billion dollars to fork over this year, and the year after…..NO!
    So!…What do we have to put up against governments bank roll? Well!…we have our vote! The problem here is…we’ve given our proxy to our elected representatives to vote for us. Well!…we know how that works…it doesn’t…regardless of the way we want them to vote.
    So!…What’s left? What can we put our hopes and money, or lack of money, on? Well!…we have our
    “physical presence.” That’s always been our “Ace in the hole.” “Physical presence” is a show of strength and determination…and…something they understand.
    But!…in demonstrating our strength and will…we must remember that…we are NOT radicals or subversives, and there’s no rebellious behavior of youth equaited here. We are all classes of Americans, the biggest class being the “middle class,” the class they are trying to assassanate. We must make our point, that if they think that our country is divided on the issue of medicinal cannabis, then they have the burden of proof to show us how 85% in favor of “TOTAL LEGALIZATION” equals divided and not united. They must prove to us how 85% equals “tune in…turn off…and drop out.” They must prove to us that what their ignorance has done to our crominal justice system isn’t indiscribable or valid.
    If we want our freedom back…we must be willing to “TAKE A STAND…AND…TAKE THE FALL RIGHT WHERE WE STAND.” If we are not willing to do that, then we must be willing to run like hell the other way, or fall into hell…the abode of the damned.
    Good luck my fellow Americans
    “A Rebel with a Cause.”

  23. We have another little problem with medical marijuana brewing though. I’ve pasted in a little section from another article where the Green Cross is all upset about the new taxes passed in Oakland:
    “The Green Cross points out that medical marijuana dispensaries are taxed at the state and local level through sales tax, payroll tax, and income tax. Adding a “sin tax” only punishes patients.
    Punishing patients to gain social acceptance of a rushed unproven experiment involving general adult use is irresponsible and unfair. The medical community has worked hard to fight for the rights of patients and caretakers. Kevin Reed, President of the Green Cross may have said it best, when he commented that “this frantic, ‘we need money, legalize now’ movement may totally derail what we have been tirelessly working for during the last thirteen years. Proponents of legalization run the risk that people may not like what they see, the legalization-for-all social experiment might fail, and bring the medical cannabis movement down with it.”
    A lot of people think that pharmaceutical companies are keeping marijuana illegal. Look who will be fighting us now, medical marijuana providers. They’re getting rich and they don’t want competition. Legal marijuana would kill their business. Right now they can charge “prohibition prices” even though if they follow a few rules they can get away with producing and selling pot without fear of arrest, without fear of seizures. What happens to them when a lot more pot shops open up and people don’t have to go feed some doctor a line of b.s. and pay him a couple of hundred bucks for a mmj recommendation?
    I think it’s time to pretty much abandon medical marijuana. I do believe that there are people who need it. I do think it should be legal for them to use it. But I don’t think that continuing the push for medical marijuana is going to help us get what we really want, full legalization. People know that anyone who wants a medical marijuana recommendation can get one. Most beleive pot is practically legal in California now. California’s medical marijuana program shows that pot can be taxed, and government numbers on marijuana use in California and other states show that medical marijuana, or this quasi legalization we have in California, does not increase marijuana use. This is good for those of us who want full legalization, but I don’t see how continuing to push in other states is going to help us any more. We’ve gotten all the benefit we’re going to get out of it.
    If we continue to push for medical marijuana we’ll probably get it in a few more states. Then we’ll have more medical marijuana providers who will fight us on full legalization to protect their profits. What’s worse is that we might actually succeed in getting the feds to allow for medical marijuana, having them reschedule it and put the FDA in charge of regulating it. That would kill these medical marijuana dispensaries because the FDA would require that it be sold through pharmacies and only to people with real prescriptions. And of course they’d only sanction a couple of companies to grow it so quality and the choices people have would diminish, and price would probably go up.
    It’s time to just push for full legalization, and push for decriminalization for the time being where we can’t get legalization. Funds for polling should be spent asking people about their attitudes on legalization and decriminalizing possession and personal use growing. It may be a while before we can get full legalization initiatives to pass, but several states would probably go for decriminalization and some might even go for decriminalizing personal use growing.
    Decriminalization is nowhere near as good as legalization, but it would make the laws easier on people and it would soften opposition to legalization. People are going to say, “it’s practically legal anyway, we might as well legalize it and tax it.” Each time a decriminalization measure passes it will break down more and more resistance from the most ardent drug warriors who will see that we are never going to crack down on pot and pot users like they want us to do and more of them will give in and say we might as well just legalize it and tax it.
    If not for medical marijuana and the recent decriminalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, we wouldn’t have had many victories in the past ten or fifteen years. Full legalization initiatives all failed. We needed medical marijuana to keep the momentum going. Now it’s time to use decriminalization for that same purpose. I doubt pot gets legalized in California in the next couple of years either through ballot initiative or through the bill before their legislature. But the chances of that happening are better in California than in any other state. In most states we’d be lucky to get decriminalization to pass. That’s why we need to spend a lot of money on polling to see what we can get passed and where and we need to plan our attack from there.
    Without all the big “legalizer” money, medical marijuana would still survive and grassroots efforts might get medical marijuana laws passed in a couple of other states. They’ll be okay. They don’t need the broader legalization movement, and it’s getting to the point where medical marijuana is not the best use of our time or our money. Now we need to focus on outright legalization, and we should use decriminalization in states where it looks like that’s the best we could hope for at the time being. Every year we need to have at least two or three state voter initiatives for decriminalization, and maybe one for full legalization in a state if it looks like there is a decent chance of it passing. (so far none have)

  24. Mr. Hartsfield of weedmaps states that he doesn’t really need his prescription and that medical marijuana is just a way to get it to people who would have used it anyway……
    VERY SAD that you feel this is a joke, my wife has trigeminal neuralgia, also called the suicide disease because people who have it usually kill themselves. She has constant pain as if someone is stabbing her in the side of her head. We spent years and thousands of dollars at Kaiser trying to get her help and the meds they had her on made her a vegetable. This IS NOT A JOKE..if it were not for this medicine she would still be on our couch nodding from prescription meds. Now she goes to work and can interact with us. She is still sick some days but nothing like taking her to the hospital everyday for injections that just sedated her. People should be more responsible, become an advocate for legalization and not just ride on the coattails of those who are seriously ill thus possibly jeopardizing their ability to get the medicine they can’t really live without. I won’t be going on Weedmaps!

  25. I totally agree with #29, but is this really something to know? “People know that anyone who wants a medical marijuana recommendation can get one.” Well, I looked into it and this is what I found. You must have an actual diagnosis from a doctor that you suffer from some kind of condition. So, you must have a doctor and you must have a condition. Some doctors are kind of fussy about passing out a diagnosis like it was a lollipop or something. But once you get that, you take it to some other doctor who has advertised their services and they will tell you, “Yeah, pot could help with your corns or occasional headaches or whatever.” But it was explained to me that you couldn’t walk into a dispensery clinic, pay your $250 and expect to be issued cannabis without having some kind of medical plan first and a some (any) kind of medically observed condition.
    And TKDietz, to really examine what kind of role medical marijuana has played in the struggle to decriminalize cannabis, it needs to be remember how we got medical marijuana. Remember? It was all about compassion and gosh, nobody wants to be caught uncompassionate. So the initiative passed and suddenly they are selling cannabis out of little stores for people with permits from doctors.
    But shouldn’t the argument for compassion work just as well for people locked up or busted for cannabis charges? Isn’t that worth a try? Wasn’t that worth a try? It is irrational to lock people up for using something that is allowed to treat just about anything, but why plead reason and rationality to the public, especially when compassion seems to haved worked so well.

  26. Ahh… and therein lies the problem with legitimate discussions on marijuana reform. It’s the people that don’t take this issue seriously. Marijuana reform faces the same problem that gun rights advocates face. For both issues, there are two distinct groups of people that are behind both issues. There is the group that fights for these issues because of the necessity ie: medical marijuana is harmless to the responsible user, a 9mm handgun is a personal defense weapon. The other group fighting for these issues fights for them just to have them ie:marijuana should be legal, flat across the board with no interference and no regulation and taxation, gun owners should have the right to own a fully automatic machine gun… for protection. That said, Mr. Hartfields’ statement is the epitome of what demonizes the marijuana reform movement. Using any states medical marijuana laws as a way to circumvent the current drug laws simply gives ammunition for those to discredit legal marijuana, whether medicical or otherwise.

  27. In the past 32 years I’ve gone from serving 23 months of a 3 year sentence for possession of marijuana in Florida to becoming a medical marijuana patient in California last year. At long last we are drawing closer still to where we should have been all along. Legal marijuana for any adult so desiring. All of the old so called reasons for not legalizing marijuana have been proven time after time to have little or no merit so let’s get with what is right and stop this insane marijuana prohibition.

  28. Just a side note: I know some Growers for Dispensaries, and(by association) Dispensary owners here in California. Who really DON’T want legalization because it will hurt there “BOTTOM LINE”. Now how can we expect TV to allow HONEST debate when we can’t even trust the one’s who wanted “legalization” of medical marijuana just so they can line there pockets with “over priced” product? We have GREED on the “inside” who would like nothing else but to continue selling a $1.60per .05g unit for over $6.00+ a .05g unit. Do we “honestly” think we a a shot with a new(growing more powerful daily) roadblock?

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