Guest Editorial: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

(This post was sent in by a reader with a medical marijuana prescription who wishes to remain anonymous and because this is a hot topic I thought it was worth publishing. I’m absolutely NOT going to make a habit out of this so don’t even think of e-mailing me some rant. – Sean Bonner)


You’re looking for an opinion from somebody who’s been inside the dispensaries? Well that’s me.

Let me start by telling you that you’d never think I smoked pot from looking at me, and when I told a few friends I’d gone and gotten a prescription for cannibas, nobody believed me. I’m over 40 and have a good job with a nice income. I hate hippies and stoners, and more than anything I hate the “culture” they’ve created around what’s nothing more than a plant.

It’s true that you just have to show up and pay one of any number of cannibas doctors and you can get a prescription for pot, but it’s also true that you can go to any other doctor and walk out with prescriptions for far worse drugs like Vicodin or Xanax or any of the evil psych meds just as easily, and nobody bats an eye at that.

I’ve been to several dispensaries and most have a “one patient at a time in the vending area” policy. I’m guessing this is to discourage the “hang out and get baked” crowd, which is good for me because that’s the last place I want to be. They all have “no cell phones” policies, and the one in Eagle Rock has a long list of rules, all of which are basically, “don’t be a dick and ruin this for everyone.”

Lately however I’ve heard of more than one dispensary that’s set up like a clubhouse, where people do sit around and get high. For me this is bad on many levels, probably the most important of which is it undermines everyone’s credibility. You don’t sit there and chew Vicodin at the CVS, so why would you stick around and medicate at the dispensary?

What it boils down to is people who don’t use pot are more comfortable with the idea that only cancer patients can get prescriptions for cannabis because once again Hippies Ruin Everything. Nobody likes the stereotype of a bunch of dirty stoners baked out of their minds hanging out and then driving their cars around stoned, but unfortunately that’s mostly who’s out there.

Like I said, I’ve been to several dispensaries and I’ve never once seen anyone who didn’t look like a refugee from a Cheech and Chong movie (besides me). This image is not the image anyone needs. Not that everyone hasn’t been super friendly and helpful (I had no idea what to ask for, what the different strains are about, or even how to roll a joint), but if the dispensaries want credibility, and want to appeal to people like me, maybe they should hire people who don’t use the product quite so much.



(This post was sent in by a reader with a medical marijuana prescription who wishes to remain anonymous and because this is a hot topic I thought it was worth publishing. I’m absolutely NOT going to make a habit out of this so don’t even think of e-mailing me some rant. – Sean Bonner)

8 Replies to “Guest Editorial: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries”

  1. Damn hippies ruining it for everyone. Peace and love are a silly thing. Take your pot and go to Burning Man already….lol

    Seriously, Crystal and I are big supporters of the legalization movement. But, legal or not we don’t tolerate people sitting on our stoop drinking, making a mess, smoking pot or anything else that cuts into our right to a quiet, safe home.

    Even more seriously, take your damn pot and really go to Burning Man already.

  2. I’m all for the legalization of marijuana, even though I’m not a user, makes me feel paranoid, so I have not smoked any pot for over thirty years. But cancer and aids patients should be able to buy marijuana if it eases their discomfort.

    As a regular visitor to Venice Beach, I have met many users with prescriptions for marijuana that have nothing wrong with them.

    How do I know they have nothing wrong with them you ask? I have sat down and drank a few beers with them at the Venice Bistro and asked why they have a presciption.

    Seems some doctor’s will write a prescription at the asking.

    Why are there medical marijuana clinic’s instead of a regular pharmacy dispensing marijuana?

  3. Mostly just playing devil’s advocate here, but…

    Like I said, I’ve been to several dispensaries and I’ve never once seen anyone who didn’t look like a refugee from a Cheech and Chong movie (besides me).

    Maybe that’s because the people that look like you won’t break their anonymity and don’t hang around the dispensary for longer than it takes to get their script filled?

    And since when did a business have to pass some kind lithmus for social acceptibility of its clientele or employees? There’s a shitty liquor store around the corner from my house and I’ve never seen anybody there that doesn’t look like a bum or a gangster. Sometimes shifty looking people hand around on the corner and drink from paper bags. I don’t see the LAPD doing mass raids and closures on area liquor stores.

    If there’s a problem dispensary, or even a network of problem dispensaries, then that’s an issue that needs to be addressed, but it doesn’t make all dispensaries and their employees bums. Neither does them having long hair or a beard.

    but if the dispensaries want credibility, and want to appeal to people like me, maybe they should hire people who don’t use the product quite so much.

    I’m sure that’s a piece of cake given that working at one means you might get raided by federal authorties. I imagine that they’re also mostly volunteers, though that’s just a guess. If you find the service valuable, and you think they need the positive PR, then why don’t you take a volunteer shift? They’re only going to build credibility when “credible” people are willing to publicly support them.

  4. My ex-neighbor in Venice works at a dispensary. He also grew skunk in his studio apartment and smoked it to the point where clouds would billow outside his apartment. His mother paid for his apartment for reasons I’m not sure of, but given the hours he spent smoking, I’m guessing it was because he couldn’t or wouldn’t work a nine to five job.

    And he offered to hook me or my friends up at the dispensary he worked at if we wanted it – even if we didn’t need the prescription.

    It’s a horrible example which has colored my perception of the dispensaries. The punchline is, I don’t even think pot should be illegal. I don’t smoke it because it doesn’t work for me, but I’m still from Vancouver. Marijuana gets smoked on the streets there. It’s legal to a point in BC. But because it’s open and a free market, there’s no central points to be abused by stoners who can’t handle the substance. Hence, they don’t congregate in places like the dispensaries, and they don’t end up abusing a system that’s supposed to control the flow of the plant. If there’s no system in place, it can’t be abused.

    Unfortunately, I do think the dispensaries can be abused, and I’m not saying they all were – but it’s obviously possible. Maybe it was just a few bad eggs, but perhaps the dispensaries still need to set up their own self-policing system or association, and make sure that none of them are violating the law or encouraging idiots who can’t handle their prescriptions, because otherwise, it just wrecks it for everyone.

    And I’m pretty sure those idiots who hang out and get stoned at the dispensaries would hang out and abuse substances ANYWHERE. It’s unfortunate that the marijuana culture is more conducive to that kind of stupidity.

  5. Seems to me that several main ideas are battling it out here:

    1. Does marijuana have medical value?

    Research points to Yes. For this reason Californians voted to legalize it, a decision I support and even voted for way back when when this was up for grabs. I think all drug laws are stupid though, and believe it should all be legal, monitored for quality, and taxed like crazy.

    2. Is it just for cancer patients?

    If it’s legal, it’s legal. Why should anyone have to judge who deserves a prescription and who doesn’t? Pot seems to be a good drug – all natural, you don’t have to build it up in your system (like antidepressants), and from what I hear these new varieties really do the job. As long as you do it responsibly (don’t drive or operate machinery) I don’t see why you should have to be on chemo or have glaucoma to get a prescription.

    3. Can the medical benefits be separated from the skeevy drug culture of the classic Stoned Hippy?

    Well, there’s the big question. I think a huge portion of the pot-smoking population really likes the Cheech and Chong lifestyle and can’t or won’t break from it.

    Personally that’s a deal breaker for me – it shouldn’t take away from the drug’s credibility as a medicine but it does. Context is everything, and when people abuse the dispensaries it’s a bad thing. It’s exactly the same as bums hanging out by liquor stores drinking from paper bags – gross.

    Nobody wants to see that, no matter what the drug being abused is.

  6. As a person who used the dispensary as a SANE way to get my medical marijuana this truly SUCKS.

    I have survived 3 rounds of chemo/radiation treatments for colon cancer, have been living with AIDS for 10 years and
    Nuropathic pain in my feet which also has been alleviated w/pot.

    Sure you can get pharmaceuticall pills called marinol but when you need immediate relief from the urge to puke from nausea or even just nausea that is not that severe but close enough these little pills do not cut it.
    They can sometimes take an hour or two to feel any effect unlike a quick smoke which is immediate.

    Granted things were getting a bit bold with all the ads in the la weekly and clubs opening on every corner practically I saw this coming.

    As soon as G.W.B. got elected the first round of closures took place within a month of his being Prez. and now that Dems. have a upper hand the feds strike again.
    No not paranoid just an observation.

    This really is an attack on sick people like me who without will feel even sicker.
    I was given less then 6 months to live when first diagnosed and truly believe the Hippie pot saved me.

    Most dispensaries have very strict rules about not hanging around and disrupting neighbors, you may even have your membership revoked if you don’t follow the rules.

    Hoping you never have someone close to you or yourself need to get some relief for any disease which this helps with and you have no place to go.

    if big Tobacco was smart they would start passing out joints instead of ciggys at bars
    Talk about a new market.
    Did the press not just call marijuana the largest crop in the USA recently?

    Oh to live in the Netherlands where this is soooo not a issue.

    A Proud Hippie,

  7. If even one person has their pain due to chronic illeness eased by using the LEGALLY SANCTIONED BY THE VOTERS OF CALIFORNIA Medical Marijuana, then the new system works. Yes, there are some who abuse it, but soooooo many people have found relief from this all natural drug, why not support it? By relying on the ‘he doesn’t look sick’ assumption, you’re condemning someone who you know nothing about. This whole debate is disheartening. Whatever happened to the idea of a free American way of life…. you know, “live and let live’?

  8. Being someone who fully sports the legalization of not just Marijuana but all recreational drugs, and also has absolutely zero interest in partaking in any of them – I think the constantly touted “all natural drug” argument is retarded. Something being natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Hemlock is all natural. But it shouldn’t matter, natural or synthesized, it should all be legal, regulated, taxed like mad and if you choose to do it and it kills you, that’s just darwinism at it’s finest.

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