Los Angeles Pot Dispensaries to Be Shut Down

Bad news for basically everybody I know, via the AP:

Los Angeles passed an ordinance two years ago that was supposed to shutter hundreds of pot dispensaries while capping the number in operation at 70. But a set of legal challenges against the city by collectives and last month’s expiration of the ordinance thanks to a sundowner clause led to another surge of pot shops. City officials said 762 collectives have registered with the city and as many as 200 more could exist.

“We need to start with a clean slate,” Councilman Mitchell Englander said before the vote. “Los Angeles has experimented with marijuana and has failed.”

Los Angeles passed an ordinance two years ago that was supposed to shutter hundreds of pot dispensaries while capping the number in operation at 70. But a set of legal challenges against the city by collectives and last month’s expiration of the ordinance thanks to a sundowner clause led to another surge of pot shops. City officials said 762 collectives have registered with the city and as many as 200 more could exist.

“We need to start with a clean slate,” Councilman Mitchell Englander said before the vote. “Los Angeles has experimented with marijuana and has failed.”

I can tell you with authority, as a resident of Los Angeles, that it is easier to get a prescription for marijuana than it is to find quality affordable health insurance in this damn city, and I don’t even smoke pot (prone to paranoia). So I think we’ll have to wait and see if closing the storefront pot shops will truly change availability or if it will simply make our city streets less embarrassing for Mayor Villaraigosa when other mayors come visit.

Regardless of availability, and despite the fact that my own personal opinion is that pot should be 100% legal (though controlled as cigarettes and alcohol are), I have to agree that having storefront pot shops where you need a doctor’s prescription to buy the drug is sort of a strange thing. I mean, imagine if when I got my Flonase nasal spray prescription filled I went to a different place than where I pick up my asthma inhalers (sexy, I know). If it’s a prescription, you should head to your friendly neighborhood pharmacy, right?

Instead, it’s this half-assed attempt at making pot legal. If you ask me, they should go full-out with this legalizing-marijuana thing or truly treat the drug like a medication.

What do you think of the store-front pot dispensaries in cities like LA and Oakland? How do you think closing them will change availability? Will closing storefront pot shops increase crime rates or otherwise harm society?

How about the idea of marijuana only being available via normal pharmacies?

 

Lead image courtesy of cletch

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About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is the type of working mom who opens her car door and junk spills out all over the ground. She serves as Executive Editor of The Good Men Project and is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on sites like xoJane, hlntv.com, and The Huffington Post. Joanna loves playing with her sons, skateboarding with her husband, and hanging out with friends. Her dream is to someday finish her almost-done novel and get some sleep. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.

Comments

  1. A friend of mine who’s going to school in Colorado tells me that the dispensaries there are everywhere, including in liquor stores. On one hand, it reinforces the image that even prescription holders are just looking for a recreational high. On the other, these locations are very convenient for poor people in neighborhoods underserved by traditional pharmacies. Your remark about health insurance is apt. Looking at it from a public health perspective, marijuana is already easier to access than good health care, and not only in Los Angeles. The infrastructures—including black and gray market networks—already exist to ensure that people in poor, urban neighborhoods have easy access to some kinds of products and services, while others are very hard to come by. Working within the system means thinking outside the box for delivery of products and services to high-risk and hard to reach populations.

    • reg schroeder says:

      what happened to my comment? have i been censored !!

    • Frances B. says:

      Yes! Prescriptions should all be handled by real pharmacies. Would that mean that insurance would cover marijuana scripts? Seems people would be more likely to pay into health care for themselves this way. But then there would be the issue of people on medical…maybe marijuana is the answer to some of California’s financial problems. ???

  2. I’m a young guy, but I’m one of the few people I’ve known in my years in medical marijuana circles that used it for a legitimate problem and as the law intended (as a course of last resort for otherwise unmanageable pain). In the time I had it I’ve been harassed countless times, including once being raided by the police (on Christmas, no less) and having to suck up thousands of dollars in property damage.

    I finally found a different alternative to control my problem, so I don’t smoke pot anymore. Just saying.

    In any case, I’m trying to establish that I’ve got some expertise in the MMJ area (at least in my region). What I can say authoritatively is that the VAST majority of dispensaries are nonprofit on paper but for-profit off the books. The quality of medicine and the knowledge of the providers is not at all where it should be. The law says “you can smoke pot,” but it doesn’t specifically describe which strains and psychoactive chemical ratios are most effective for which conditions (and the doctors who prescribe it aren’t exactly given MMJ continuing education, either). And since dispensaries buy their stuff from others and don’t grow their own (by and large, again in my area), and testing for cannabinoid ratios is so expensive, they really have no idea of the quality of what they’re selling MEDICALLY speaking. Sure, they can tell you “this stuff gets you higher than this stuff,” but that’s absolutely useless information for a true patient. Learning that sort of information and how to produce good medicine efficiently requires as much study as a college degree, if not more.

    In summation, the dispensary industry as it sounds now is a legal grey area sham for pot dealers. It’s not a legitimate naturopathic medical industry. And this is NOT how it is done in European countries with medical marijuana laws. They think we’re nuts.

    So my answer is this: if we’re going to have medical marijuana laws for the explicit purposes of patient benefit, it needs to be under some sort of centralized regulation. Even if providers know what they’re doing, the amount of quality care they can provide is limited by the quantity they can legally produce. If, on the other hand, one company was able to perfect a muscle spasm strain and growing process and produce it as “cleanly” (with the least amount of carcinogens) as possible, the people who actually suffer from muscle spasms would be much better served if that group were allowed to produce large quantities of more effective medicine. And, to be honest, it’s much cheaper to produce quality product on a large scale than a small scale, so it would probably be better for the patients’ pockets, too.

    • Oh, and I forgot. If people are truly growing for themselves, I’m all for that. But 15 plants in any stage of growth and a half ounce a day is too much marijuana for basically anyone who’s not terminal or bedridden, and you don’t usually see those folks doing much gardening, do you? I can grow 1 plant to yield six ounces of very high quality marijuana in three months or two pounds outdoors over the course of a summer, and I live pretty darn far north. I don’t really think most patients need over $20,000 worth of marijuana (street price, in bulk) to manage chronic back pain.

    • Frances B. says:

      Well said!

  3. At this point, shutting down dispensaries also hobbles rider-businesses – ie. smoking apparatus, referral services, etc. That ‘etc’ includes promoting my Pazuzu Trilogy – it’s a horror story about war, religion, monsters and alien gods. It’s a fictionalized OWS complete with the 1%, 99% and a delusional and downtrodden Middle-class. I had been leaving my business cards and hanging posters in dispensaries inviting those whom imbibe to read the epic story. Nevertheless, the books are available online – pazuzu.yolasite.com

    *I have visions my Pazuzu Trilogy is modern-day Lord of the Rings meets Stephen King’s the Stand. In either case and like Tolkien’s literature, the story is especially enhanced when its reader is too. Be prepared because it then becomes hellbent toward bloodshed and oblivion. (Just like the streets of LA in 93 without legal medical marijuana)

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  1. [...] light of the closing of storefront Marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, a bigger question begs to be asked: Should marijuana be totally legal, remain a prescription, or [...]

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