Tag Archives: los angeles

Patients need to behave themselves

One of the frustrating things about being a medical marijuana patient and activist is having to deal with those on my side who seem to be doing everything they can to strip my medicine of its dignity. The patients at the dispensary in Sandy Banks’ L.A. Times opinion piece are a case in point:

When Brent Poer moved into his quaint Los Feliz home a year ago, he knew the boxy green building at the corner of his cul-de-sac was a marijuana dispensary.

He figured coexisting with Hyperion Healing would be easy. “I honestly thought that potheads would be really cool and laid-back,” said Poer, a 42-year-old advertising executive.

Instead, he said, he wound up confronting strangers who blocked his driveway, left trash on the street, parked outside his neighbors’ homes blasting music and smoking weed. He ticks off a list of crimes —garages burglarized, car windows broken, thefts from homes — that neighbors blame on dispensary visitors.

While I’m sure all of those crimes weren’t committed by “dispensary visitors,” it disturbs me that medical patients can’t be bothered to pick up their trash or park legally. It would also help if the patients at this dispensary acted like medical patients:

“I get the compassionate thing,” said Poer. “But when you see people park on your street, carrying McDonald’s bags and an X-box 360, walking down to the dispensary to hang out … that’s a clubhouse, not a pharmacy.”

The responsibility for this lies with the dispensary. Most of the dispensaries I have seen have their members sign a “good neighbor clause,” stating the member at the very least won’t loiter around the premises, make lots of noise or medicate in the surrounding neighborhood. These clauses are in place because many communities fear the criminal element that they associate, rightly or wrongly, with marijuana. (I’ll be the first to admit that, thanks to the co-existence of a black and a white market in marijuana, there are unfortunately still criminal elements on the medical side.) I’ve never had any problem with these clauses, because I can put myself in the position of someone who lives in that neighborhood; and I wouldn’t want the customers of any business blocking my driveway or trashing my street.

Hyperion Healing deserves to be fined for allowing such behavior by its members. More importantly, all of us in the medical marijuana community and the broader anti-prohibition movement need to remember that the rest of society is judging us more by what we do and how we act than by what we say. All the logical arguments in the world won’t sway someone who sees medical marijuana patients trash his neighborhood every day. Medical marijuana patients have fought long and hard for legitimacy and acceptance by society, and we still have a long way to go. Acting like the stoner criminals many of our critics believe us to be only sets us back.

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LA Takes Out Its Incompetence on Dispensaries, Patients

It looks like L.A.’s dispensary limit will go into effect on Monday, forcing hundreds of dispensaries to close or pay exhorbitant fines.  If you’re looking for a clue as to why L.A. is in this situation, you could do worse than this line:

Last-minute legal challenges from pot shop owners and patients seeking temporary restraining orders were denied Friday by Superior Court Judge James Chalfant, paving the way for officials to enforce the long-awaited law that will slash the number of dispensaries to somewhere between 70 and 130.

The range is between “70 and 130”? Are you kidding? How is it possible that a city with a large bureaucracy, including tax collectors, fire inspectors, and a host of other agencies, not to mention beat cops who should, between them, know the entire city backwards and forwards, they can’t get an accurate count of all the dispensaries that abide by the law? What the hell are Los Angelinos paying these people for, if not to keep track of things?

I’m sure a lot of these “rogue” dispensaries haven’t made it easy for the city to keep track of them, but that range refers specifically to the ones that are legal. We learn later in the article what constitutes a legal dispensary:

Dispensaries that registered before a 2007 moratorium can stay open if they adhere to the new guidelines, which include being 1,000 feet from schools, parks and other public gathering sites. The dispensaries also must pay more than $1,000 in administrative fees.

So the city has had more than two years to look at dispensaries that already existed, make sure they pay their fees, and draw lines on maps to check if they are too close to schools and parks. This does not sound like a tall order to me.

The city clearly has failed to do its job. All they have ever had to do was task every beat cop in the city to write the address of every dispensary in his area, then collect that data, plot it on a map, check to see if their paperwork is in order, and identify the dispensaries that are out of compliance. That’s what a competent government would do.

Instead, they have spent years failing to do their jobs, while complaining publicly about the “Wild West” atmosphere among dispensaries in L.A. Now that they have finally managed to get their act together (to what degree, we’ll see…) the people who pay for their years of mismanagement are the dispensary owners who opened their businesses legally and the sick people who patronize those dispensaries, only to have the city pull the rug out from under them.

Hat tip to THE Weed Blog.

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