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One Toke Over the Line
July 25, 2008 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Dr. Kush: The New Yorker takes a detailed look at California's medicinal marijuana dispensary industry.
posted by porn in the woods (27 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Banana bud The weed report is a review of what's new down at the dispensary.
posted by hortense at 10:30 AM on July 25, 2008


California now has more than two hundred thousand physician-sanctioned pot users and hundreds of dispensaries

Two hundred thousand!? I am happily surprised to hear this. Could be better, but this goes a long way towards the dream of legalization.
posted by grobstein at 10:31 AM on July 25, 2008


I've got absolutely no problem with people using marijuana for purely recreational purpoes. The sanctimonious "help grandmothers with cancer" crap that passes for debate in San Francisco is starting to piss me off, though.
posted by Nelson at 10:38 AM on July 25, 2008


The citizens of California have debated and decided that they want medical marijuana to be available. Why the hell is the DEA creating web pages to try to change that? DEA: Propaganda is not a proper function of government - I can form opinions without your help!
posted by Teppy at 10:50 AM on July 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


That’s what being a grower in Humboldt County is like, she said. You do jigsaw puzzles at night, get high, and shit in the woods.

Sign me up!

Interesting first-hand experience, but I didn't learn a whole lot, aside from some new, odd strain names like Dog Shit. Yum.

I'm curious how the medicinal business has affected the industry as a whole; like the "illicit" growers/dealers. I, of course, have no first-hand experience, but I heard through a friend of a friend that the general business had been hit hard by dispensaries.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:13 AM on July 25, 2008


Could be better, but this goes a long way towards the dream of legalization.

That might be the last thing the growers and dispensaries want. The price of pot is propped up by its illegal status and many farms, homeowners, and dispensaries would lose their livelihood, homes and land if the law changed.
posted by peeedro at 11:13 AM on July 25, 2008


It's buried pretty deep in the article, but I found this economic observation interesting
Before the legalization of medical marijuana, she said, the wholesale price of good weed was forty-eight hundred dollars a pound. Now it was between twenty-two and twenty-six hundred.
posted by Nelson at 11:21 AM on July 25, 2008


DEA: Propaganda is not a proper function of government

I can't locate it right now but there's a quote by a former DEA administrator that its job was not only to protect the public from dangerous drugs but also dangerous ideas.

More saliently, the nature of the drug law enforcement endeavour is that it's ultimately about behavior i.e. at the root, drug taking. Behavior is influenced by beliefs, and so shaping and managing those beliefs, perversely, does come within the domain of law enforcement. They may not even have to show they are telling the truth.
posted by daksya at 11:28 AM on July 25, 2008


I was just reading this article, and popped back over here to see if anybody had posted it yet. It's a nice read but, as mrgrimm notes, not much new.

Here in New York, the last two Assembly sessions have voted to pass a bill legalizing cannabis for medical use, but both times the Senate has let it die without a vote. How much farm land is there upstate that could be earning New Yorkers income growing marijuana? I'm guessing the answer is "lots."
posted by uncleozzy at 11:33 AM on July 25, 2008


Before dispensaries came onto the scene, weak pot dealers made every transaction a crapshoot.

With dispensaries, you've got consistent quality, slightly lower price, and my local outfit even lets patients exchange medication if it's not delivering the goods.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:34 AM on July 25, 2008


More Drug Law Insanity
posted by homunculus at 11:39 AM on July 25, 2008


The weed report is a review of what's new down at the dispensary

That is mind-blowing insanity. Although really it's kind of a nice service, isn't it? Cannabis can have such a wide variety of effects that it'd be nice to know the likely result of what you're consuming ahead of time. You don't get that on the street ("Before dispensaries came onto the scene, weak pot dealers made every transaction a crapshoot.").
posted by uncleozzy at 12:04 PM on July 25, 2008


I've got absolutely no problem with people using marijuana for purely recreational purpoes. The sanctimonious "help grandmothers with cancer" crap that passes for debate in San Francisco is starting to piss me off, though.

You should watch Waiting to Inhale. Sanctimonious or not, the truth is that for every X "medical" marijuana patients who are in it for the high, there really is a grandma with cancer or glaucoma, or an AIDS patient with wasting disease, or a 17 year old kid (like the one in homunculus' link) with bone cancer. And we really are throwing them into prison, along with the people who risk their lives and livelihoods to provide them with medicine. For example, things like the raid on WAMM make me feel as though this issue could probably use a little more sanctimony.

IMHO, California's lax medical marijuana laws have turned the issue into a total circus, which is a shame, but better a circus than a prison state.
posted by vorfeed at 12:14 PM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm sort of conflicted about medical marijuana. I mean I am not against it for those that really need it but I wonder in California how many people getting medical marijuana are getting it for recreational use. In a perfect world marijuana would be legal and regulated for recreational use and it would be no big deal. As things are I am worried that these marginal cases are maybe weakening the case for medical marijuana for those that really need the stuff.

Personally I know that I experience some benefit from smoking as far as diminished anxiety. At the same time I know that this benefit is subordinate to my recreational enjoyment of pot. If I was lived in California I don't know what I would do but I would guess that the moral decision would be not to jeopardize medical marijuana for those that need it.
posted by I Foody at 12:26 PM on July 25, 2008


In the Bay Area, can someone without a proscription enter a dispensary with a friend who does have a proscription?
posted by spork at 1:02 PM on July 25, 2008


a similar article on Oregon's medical MJ cottage industry ran in the willamette week a year and a half ago. I thought it was more recent than that and might be germain to the thread, but it's not, and now i've typed this comment anyway.
posted by acid freaking on the kitty at 1:21 PM on July 25, 2008


I doubt pot growers would lose their livelihoods if legalization meant a sudden windfall of new users.

The real downside of pot is that it's usually smoked--I have heard it doesn't have the same health effects as smoked tobacco, but can inhaling burning plant particles ever be particularly good for the lungs? So if pot were legalized, I would worry about more lung cancer cases a lot more than more stoned people.
posted by emjaybee at 1:56 PM on July 25, 2008


"In the Bay Area, can someone without a proscription enter a dispensary with a friend who does have a proscription?"

No.

"The real downside of pot is that it's usually smoked--I have heard it doesn't have the same health effects as smoked tobacco, but can inhaling burning plant particles ever be particularly good for the lungs? So if pot were legalized, I would worry about more lung cancer cases a lot more than more stoned people."

Well, there's this:
The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.
I've heard that doctors prescribing medical marijuana generally encourage smokers to switch to a vaporizer, which does not combust the material and thus does reduces tar levels and eliminates carbon monoxide.
posted by mullingitover at 2:47 PM on July 25, 2008


You don't have to smoke pot. You can use a vaporizer, which have become pretty popular. Or just cook with it by transferring the THC to a fat (butter, oil) and cooking with that fat. The effects last longer that way anyways.
posted by ninjew at 2:48 PM on July 25, 2008


The real downside of pot is that it's usually smoked--I have heard it doesn't have the same health effects as smoked tobacco, but can inhaling burning plant particles ever be particularly good for the lungs? So if pot were legalized, I would worry about more lung cancer cases a lot more than more stoned people.

Vaporizing is one way to consume marijuana without the negative health effects of inhaling burning plant particles. It has become a lot more popular in recent years, and would probably become even more so if pot were legal -- vaporizers tend to be more expensive and less portable/hideable than pipes or joints, but they're so pleasant to use that I think they could gain major popularity in a post-prohibition market.

Also, some of the medical marijuana dispensaries sell pre-baked marijuana cookies and the like, which work well if you can hold down food (since medical marijuana is often used to relieve nausea caused by chemotherapy and similar treatments, this doesn't work for everyone).
posted by vorfeed at 2:48 PM on July 25, 2008


I gotta think inhaling smoke is a health risk, too, but if pot was completely legal I'd also think it'd be packaged and sold as filtered pot cigarettes which would at least help minimize the inhalation of particulates. Also, edibles (brownies, etc.) are currently available in dispensaries -- if this really took off, I'd think they'd be regulated and labeled by THC concentration, like alcohol is today, so the consumer knew what they were getting. That'd make them a lot more attractive.
posted by LordSludge at 2:50 PM on July 25, 2008


Spork, most dispensaries have a waiting room and a medicine room, and guests of patients are usually asked to wait in the waiting room.
posted by hellphish at 2:51 PM on July 25, 2008


I like San Francisco's Vapor Room. (lame website) The process to get a prescription can be easily abused but I'm OK with that. I use a vaporizer since I have asthma and this is what my 'doctor' recommended. I toke for my headaches and migraines.

And like hellphish said, friends can wait up front but can't join you at the dispensary counter.
posted by shoesietart at 3:48 PM on July 25, 2008


In the Bay Area, can someone without a proscription enter a dispensary with a friend who does have a proscription?

If you are "proscribed," you are condemned or outlawed from such. The word you seek is "prescribed."
posted by five fresh fish at 4:44 PM on July 25, 2008


From what I read a few years ago, there really is no evidence of a direct link between smoking weed and lung cancer. But keep in mind how difficult it is to do study where you ask people to quantify a behavior that is illegal in a lot of places.

I remember when a Farmacy (mentioned in the NYer article) moved into boring old Westwood. It not only looks like the Whole Foods of weed, but it is also conveniently located across the street from an actual Whole Foods. One stop shopping! I found it interesting that the owner was so private in the article given how open the place is--the doors are literally open as you walk past with hippy dippy world beat music leaking out onto the sidewalk and chalkboard signs beckoning you in to try their baked goods.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:21 PM on July 25, 2008


The "de-criminalization" vs "legalization" of pot debate is an old one. The scope of this article, focusing on the production and distribution network for medical marijuana in California, really illustrates that you can hardly pull any thread in the larger fabric of drug policy, without getting immediately into insurmountably larger questions. That's what makes relaxing drug laws so tough.

It's an asymmetry in law and administration that is poorly understood by most people in the debate. Tightening drug policy is relatively easy, since prohibiting any action in the production/distribution/use chain tends to decrease overall activity. But loosening policy is a lot tougher, since restrictions tend to grow up in law and custom, over time. To liberalize policy effectively, usually many concomitant legal changes have to be made in some coordinated way.

The depiction of the people producing and distributing medical marijuana in California isn't unexpected. Given the risk/benefit ratios for being involved in it as a business, it's less a business than a stoner culture, still. But if legalization ever does come about, the agricultural industry in California is going to have a field day (pun intended) with a crop that has a 60 to 80 day turn, in hydroponics or intensive indoor culture. That's right there with lettuce, and puts almonds, avocados, and grapes to shame.
posted by paulsc at 1:37 PM on July 26, 2008


Overall, the drug war will inevitably be lost for the same reason that communism was defeated by capitalism. The fact that conservatives don't have a clear understanding of this is shocking to me. A group of people who say "The government simply cannot compete with enterprise and the invisible hand" at the same time saying "The government can totally defeat the market when it comes to drugs, a notion we have convinced ourselves is rational. U! S! A!"

Amazing.
posted by mullingitover at 11:35 AM on July 28, 2008


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