Dispensing the Truth: An Opinion

The recent DEA bust has got most of us blogging.la authors talking on our discussion list. There are several points of that have been raised
– California law vs Federal law
– Impact dispensaries have on immediate neighborhood
– Medical vs Recreational usage

Lots more after the jump.

Of course the big protest yesterday morning was because the DEA came in citing federal law overriding local jurisdiction. Namely because marijuana is considered a controlled substance by the DEA, never mind California prop 215 was passed more than 10 years ago. The WeHo bust reminded me of a similar bust in Santa Cruz in 2002, where the DEA didn’t even give the local Santa Cruz authorities a heads up. In yesterday’s bust, I remember reading that local authorities were given an hour notice, but I can’t seem to find my source for this info.

“Today’s enforcement operations show that these establishments are nothing more than drug-trafficking organizations bringing criminal activities to our neighborhoods and drugs near our children and schools,” [Special Agent in Charge Ralph W.] Partridge said. [Source]

This concern was raised by David Markland, who shared this story:

When I was at the Toluca Lake holiday block party, I met a woman who complained that people would go to the dispensary in her neighborhood, and then sit on her front steps to light up, sometimes in front of her kids. She said she wasn’t alone, and that while she could ask them to leave, often someone else would take their place, and calling the police usually only solved the problem temporarily. Her larger problem was that the dispensaries brought in a bad element.

To which Ruth666 responded:

Most dispensaries have strict rules about NOT doing exactly what Markland reports. The neighbors might try telling the dispensary this is going on – they probably don’t know. It’s not in anybody’s best interest to upset the neighbors and get police attention.

Wil added similar concerns on decriminalizing a similar problem that impacts his neighborhood:

I believe in decriminalizing prostitution, but it fucking makes me INSANE that the whores from the corner do their “business” in my neighborhood, and I find used condoms all the time when I’m walking my dogs.

Tammara chimes Markland continues in on the bad stoner press problem:

The hippy stoner types have made the concept of dispensaries a blight, even giving people who go there legitimately a stigma of being fakers. I know more people who brag about being able to buy weed from dispensaries than those who actually need to. Some responsibility needs to be taken by those who couldn’t allow dispensaries and marijuana to prove its worth, and instead contributed to the common perception of pot users being no different than your average crack head.

Which raises the question. Does a dispensary in the neighborhood really bring a negative impact? Since I live in West Hollywood a stone’s throw from at least 4 of the dispensaries shut down yesterday, I had to chime in. (Hell, I pass 3 on my way to the post office.)

Marijuana dispensaries do not make my neighborhood more dangerous. If anything, it makes my neighborhood safer, because dispensaries appear clean (at least from what I can see on the outside, again, I have never been into one), well run and noninvasive.

Some of the dispensaries in my hood have a guard standing outside. At most there is one or two people waiting to go in. Everyone is polite and low key. I don’t get panhandled or harassed. I have never smelled pot smoke as I walk by. Nor anyone lighting up anywhere near these places and I pass them on a regular basis (at least 4 times a week). For my first few months living over here I didn’t even know they were dispensaries. I just thought they were some random business.

These places are much nicer than the local liquor stores or the gay porn theatre or sketchy gay bars or 8 million Russian grocery stores. (Really, if I could get rid of the Russian grocery stores it would make the neighborhood a million times better.) And the tranny crack whores do a lot more damage to the neighborhood vibe.

OK. So if the dispensaries don’t make your neighborhood worse. What is the problem? Do these people really have medical necessity or are they just stoners? Sure, people say it’s easy to get a prescription, but have you actually tried it? And what’s the experience of going to a dispensary like anyway? It can’t be all back alley sketchiness. (If you’re interested, L.J. Williamson recently wrote about her visit to a dispensary and likened it to visiting Good Vibrations (a women’s own sex story in San Francisco) in the 70’s: a clean well lit place.

The bottom line – the feds didn’t give a shit about state law. They shut down locally regulated businesses to enforce a federal law the citizens of the state of California disagreed with. Pay no matter to the victims of this bust suffering from HIV, Cancer and other terminal diseases. Yeah some people abuse the system – and it’s those people that give the new system a bad name.

This makes me wonder. Would our government do this to a drug store? What if a large pharmaceutical was behind the new “marijuana treatment”? But then again, should we really be that surprised? It’s just the most recent example of big government deciding what is best for us locally, and I seriously doubt the DEA’s strategy had the people’s best interests at heart. This was probably a left-behind strategy from our war on drugs days.