High time

DRUGS ISSUE: California could legalize pot this fall -- so why are medical marijuana providers grumbling?
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steve@sfbg.com

DRUGS With polls showing that California voters are probably poised to approve Proposition 19 in November and finally fully legalize marijuana, this should be a historic moment for jubilant celebration among those who have long argued for an end to the government's costly war on the state's biggest cash crop. But instead, many longtime cannabis advocates — particularly those in the medical marijuana business — are voicing only cautious optimism mixed with fear of an uncertain future.

Part of the problem is that things have been going really well for the medical marijuana movement in the Bay Area, particularly since President Barack Obama took office and had the Justice Department stop raiding growing operations in states that legalized cannabis for medical uses, as California did through Proposition 215 in 1996.

In San Francisco, for example, more than two dozen clubs form a well-run, regulated, taxed, and legitimate sector of the business community that has been thriving even through the recession (see "Marijuana goes mainstream," Jan. 27). The latest addition to that community, San Francisco Patient and Resource Center (SPARC), opened for business on Mission Street on Aug. 13, an architecturally beautiful center that sets a new standard for quality control and customer service.

"This is the culmination of a 10-year dream. We're going to have a real community center for patients with a great variety of services," longtime cannabis advocate Michael Aldrich, who cofounded SPARC along with Erich Pearson, told us at the club, which includes certified laboratory testing of all its cannabis and free services through Quan Yin Healing Arts Center and other providers.

Yet cash-strapped government agencies have been hastily seeking more taxes and permitting fees from the booming industry, particularly since the ballot qualification of Prop. 19, an initiative that was written and initially financed by Oaksterdam University founder Richard Lee that would let counties legalize and regulate even recreational uses of marijuana.

Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, and other California cities have placed measures on the November ballot to tax marijuana sales, and the Oakland City Council last month approved a controversial plan to permit large-scale cannabis-growing operations on industrial land (see "Growing pains," July 20).

In an increasingly competitive industry, many small growers fear they'll be put out of business and patient rights will suffer once Prop. 19 passes and counties are free to set varying regulatory and tax systems, concerns that have been aired publicly by advocates ranging from Prop. 15 author Dennis Peron to Kevin Reed, founder of the Green Cross medical marijuana delivery service.

"It's tearing the medical marijuana movement apart," Reed told the Guardian. "It's a little scary that we're going to go down an uncertain road that may well scare the hell out of mainstream America." Indeed, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — who ended the raids on medical marijuana growers — has said the feds may reengage with California if voters legalize recreational weed.

Yet Lee said people shouldn't get distracted from the measure's core goal: "The most important thing is to stop the insanity of prohibition." He expects the same jurisdictions that set up workable systems to deal with medical marijuana to also take the lead in setting rules for other uses of marijuana.

"It will be just like medical marijuana was after [Prop.] 215, when a few cities were doing it, like San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley," Lee told us. "And for cities just coming to grips with medical marijuana, it will be clean-up language that clarifies how they can regulate and tax it."

Comments

My hope is for this measure to begin getting folks in our community talking about sustainable cannabis production. SPARC mentions it on their website but when I visited and asked about recycling the nifty ground glass container which contained something that I was,"willing to pay $55 for a stinky eighth of OG Kush" I found they don't do it. If we want to compete with the big commercial interests and not, "muddy the line between medical and nonmedical" then we should live up to our marketing. I'll go back to visit my new favorite dispensary when the organization begins living up to its marketing.

Posted by Dr. Robert on Aug. 17, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

Greetings,

Thanks for saying we're you're favorite dispensary! We have alot of work to do.... and improvements to make over the next year.

The tiny glass jars that SPARC uses are recyclable. As a question of environmental responsibility, most glass is considered a recylable product - except for pyrex and a few odd items.... and SPARC will take your jar back from you if you desire. But from a sustainability point of view, a much higher use than "recycling" the glass jars is for our patient members to reuse them or keep them and use them again for something else. That's the idea behind them. They are re-usable. They are not for one-time use. The energy it takes to recycle glass: break glass, melt it and make something new makes this kind of traditional glass recycling that you refer to - energy expensive and unsustainable, although most people don't know this.

Over the next year there are probably other things I would prioritize for us at SPARC ...to become more sustainable.

Thanks,

The SPARC Crew

Posted by Guest axel dumont on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 10:01 am

Why should we let greedy politicians tax cannabis? The point is to take a black market product and put it in grocery stores so the crime bosses lose their cash cow. If it's overtaxed, it can still be profitable for criminals, who don't pay taxes.

Posted by Nurse Brian on Aug. 17, 2010 @ 10:19 pm

I support the full legalization of marijuana, but I have no illusions as to how this change will eventually play out.

Large cannabis capitalists will quickly eat up or rub out all the small fry. The tobacco industry will likely drop tobacco and switch over to marijuana.

It's only a matter of time until tobacco becomes a fringe activity, in view of the terrible health hazards from tobacco smoke, which no informed person can any longer doubt. The tobacco industry knows this better than anyone else. Marijuana will give them a chance to salvage their economic position.

The precedent for the mega capitalists taking over marijuana is the history of the tobacco industry itself. People used to grow and roll their own tobacco. Eventually huge corporations muscled their way into the practice, changed the nature of the product, and pushed it in a way as to promote its addictiveness.

The same thing will happen with marijuana. Why not? Billions of dollars of profit will be the incentive, as with tobacco.

Along the way, California will become even more a state of stoners than it already is, and the U.S. will eventually follow suit. Americans will be as hooked on marijuana as they were on cigarettes in the 1950s.

It's not an inspiring future to contemplate, in regard either to the greed of the cannabis capitalists or the befogged mental state of the stoners.

However, it's the wave of the future and cannot be stopped.

Whether all of this is wise is, of course, another question. But who even thinks in such terms anymore?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 12:19 am

You say: "Americans will be as hooked on marijuana as they were on cigarettes in the 1950s. "

That is ludicrous... tobacco is addictive due to its nicotine content (and, incidentally, carcinogenic due to its nicotine content).

Cannabis has no such addictive substance.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

1919-1933 was a bloody era of violence and killings that started to decline only when the Volstead Act was finally repealed.

Why was it ever enacted? Because the first feminist movement in the United States, the Women's Temperance Union, bolstered by church and other social engineering movements argued correctly that alcohol was extremely addictive and led to family distress, unemployment and violence against women and children.

In 1923 the executive council of the American Federation of Labor issued an address to the American people after an exhaustive investigation of the effects of the Volstead Act. It was shown by this investigation that there had been–––

A general disregard of the law among all classes of people, including those who made the law.

Creation of thousands of moonshiners among both country and city dwellers.

The creation of an army of bootleggers.

An amazing increase in the traffic in poisons and deadly concoctions and drugs.

An increased rate of insanity, blindness, and crime among the users of these concoctions and drugs.

Increase in taxes to city, State, and National Government amounting to approximately $1,000,000,000 per year.

Source: THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION LAW HEARINGS April 5 to 24, 1926
http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/e1920/senj1926/roberts.html

Since prohibition was repealed, there have still been problems with alcohol addiction along with associated health issues, but the vast majority of people's drinking has not led to the downfall of society. If we can handle the regulation of alcohol, one of the most powerful, addictive and dangerous of drugs, we can handle just about anything, and that includes cocaine and amphetamines.

And everything is readily available right now to all of us anyway. Drugs of all varieties are cheap and plentiful, and the basic economics of drug dealing remain: Take one dealer off the street, and another takes his place. Something that simply doesn't happen for other more real crimes, such as murder, embezzlement or burglary.

Historically, the prohibition of any mind altering substance has never succeeded in providing what is needed, which is a safer environment for the addict, the family and society at large. It always has, and always will, spawn far worse conditions than those it claims to be able to alleviate.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 1:10 am

Dear God, how grateful I am that I am SOBER from all substances, including marijuana. I am almost 58 and have lived in this crazy town of San Francisco for 29 years. I was stoned for years and as much as I loved this plant, I have no illusions that marijuana is a soul-stealing herb. Fun in the short term, but still a soul stealer.You cannot see the world clearly when you are stoned. I cannot imagine this state in any worse shape than it is now, but legalizing "medical" marijuana is a terrible idea. Good in theory, but very very bad in real life practice. When this great nation pulls her pretty head out of pornography, drugs, booze, promiscuity, debt, lack of any restraint in anything....and remembers it is God who blessed us and it is God who will judge....then we will have hope. Not before. Get sober, stop carousing, wake up, kids! The party is OVER. We are on the edge of a big scary cliff and only Jesus Christ as best Friend and Savior will help us to walk out of this terrible mess we have made. Used to be a liberal....now a conservative. Watched my friends die, one by one....narrowly avoided the same youthful fate.....and now act as a prayer warrior and intercessor, on my face before God every day. Wake up!!

Posted by Guest Wendy on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 2:41 am

You made decisions that were bad for you. Let other humans make their own decisions. It's time for big government to butt out of our lives. If I want to use a drug in the safety of my own home, it's not harming anyone else, how dare you try to tell me that I can't do so because you couldn't control yourself.

It's time for big government people like you to let freedom ring and let us have our personal liberties.

Posted by Guest Kevin on Aug. 27, 2010 @ 10:49 am

It says in the bible "All the plants on earth bearing seed i give you as food" try reading the bible before talking about what christ wants for us cause what he wants from you is for you NOt to be a completely raving MORON!!!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 01, 2010 @ 10:21 am

I've attended numerous trials and hearings regarding medical pot, from Federal to State to Appellate Court, and the one thing judges agree on is that medical pot is caught between terrible Federal laws and confusing, conflicting, and outright goofy state laws. This new law is more about taxation and not legalization. I am also annoyed at the idea that we have to have either no organized grows or be forced to buy from huge warehouse growers (who got their funding from organized crime, and aren't worried about sick people, and thus, will collude to keep supplies low and prices high). Why is it everything we have must be commodified and taxified and fee'd to death? Can't we leave some things to share a bit more, in this time of need? People really need pot, the world is becoming more and more strange and hostile for too many. Don't make it so expensive that organized crime and lawyers are the only ones who benefit from pot. Grow it, share it with your friends.

But first, we need to tell our Congresscritters that they have had long enough to do something useful and take pot off the Schedule law, where it never should have been. There is no morbidity and mortality associated with even the heavy use of pot, and therefore, there is no legal, moral, or ethical reason for pot, which is a herb used medicinally and recreationally (Marinol is a drug. Drugs can be synthesized or made from herbs). Those states that wish to keep pot illegal are free to do so. Let's keep in mind it is the high price of pot that attracts criminals to it. By growing so much people share without hoarding, without mendacity, the criminals have no incentive to deal with it.

So, when you're voting this November, ask yourself what has Pelosi done? Boxer? Feinstein? That's right, nothing. Taell anyone who asks for your vote that you will not vote for any candidate without a promise that he or she will remove pot from Federal persecution. If enough people do that, we can get the Federal law changed now.

Ask yourself who is against that. ONly those who profit off the artificial scarcity, who pimped sick people to get voter approval and then did nothing to help sick people get the medical pot they needed. This proposition truly sucks, and should not be voted into law. It puts intolerable restrictions on use and this will make life even more difficult for many, if not most, legitimate patients, to benefit wealthy recreational users and drug dealers looking for more money laundering.

Ask yourself where all the fees (the difference between a fee and a tax is that a tax must be voted on, and the money collected must be accounted for, and a fee is for lining the pockets of political careerists) collected from patients have gone. Most of the critically ill patients I have known in the decade I have been a patient have had to make difficult choices between buying medication and paying for food and shelter. The dispensaries can't afford to give away as much as they used to, because they are being taxed and fee'd to death (the DEA shut down maybe half a dozen clubs over the years in SF, and the City rules shut down over 2 dozen).

cui bono?

NO ON 19
FREE THE WEED/NO TAXATION WITHOUT LEGALIZATION

Posted by elizabethinsf on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 6:53 am

I've been a longtime marijuana activist. I presently work in the medical marijuana industry. I will not vote for this initiative as it creates NEW marijuana felonies. I come to the drug war from a libertarian perspective, most activists do. I will not vote for more taxes, more regulations, or more control; let alone all three. The main thrust of this initiative is likely unconstitutional, so once it is thrown out by the courts, we are left with two new marijuana felonies.

What's not to like? This initiative was put forth by one person who bought and paid for it with the assumption that he could gain more wealth through consolidation. I prefer the cottage industry that we have. I won't vote against the initiative, but neither will I vote for it.

Posted by john on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 6:54 am

As I read this , it really turns my stomack really to the boiling point... it talks about the medical patients being able to obtain it at S55.00 for an 1/8th...

For all the store fronts to be able to tax it and sell it so that they only can profit from it along with the cities and counties that is if they approve of it in thier areas.

As a long time utalizer of cannabis and activist, along with land to grow my own, and also allow others to grow along side of me,, whom only pay for the materials needed to grow and not the cannabis,,, how would this affect me and others like my husband whom grows... the law allows now for us to do this... and now with Prop 19, once passed this will stop all persons to grow unless they grow for a store front aproved by the counties and the cities within the counties of the state of CAliofrnia...
I for one thing can not grow my own,, my husband is the grower.. but for the rest of us.. whom are not able to grow will be forced into the market place and be forced to pay the price .. and pretty soon only the ones whom are able to pay will be able to obtain it... how is this good for the low income citizens whom are forced to live on low income due to their illness and most of us had worked hard all our life before the illness set in...???
I personally will NOT vote for prop 19 due to the fact of some things in it that i just can not stomack it... for one thing in the presence of a minor, another thing that i would not be able to grow what is needed to care for my illness.
i am not for legalization, at all.. i am for the medical purposes of cannabis not for the glory of others to make a profit off of those whom benifit from cannabis.sales.. i say.. lets find another way... not prop 19.. but i know that most won't because greed is behind this prop...dollar signs , if this was meant to be a booming business then it would have been like this many years ago..and treated like a business that sells liqure and cigaretts but its not... you will still be arrested.. so what has changed? Easier for them, to arrest us for growing more than a 24 ft square..and cut down our freedoom to grow our own and be forced to go to the store and pay taxes. i don't pay taxes on my needles, my pharmacuticle drugs,, why should i now pay taxes on cannabis? Unless i have lots of money to start a business , only then will i benifit... yes .. once again.. greed has taken the compassion out of careing for the sick... hm.... this will only bring in more trouble than a solution.....

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 7:41 am

There's good news!!! You've been massively misinformed!! Prop 19 will not affect your rights as a medical patient, or your husband's. Everything you're doing now, you can do under Prop 19. Read the initiative, all of it, especially Section 2, part B, numbers 7 and 8, this part specifically says medical patients are except from Prop 19's limitations. Here's Prop 19's new site, this is their FAQ page, they address every concern you may have. http://yeson19.com/node/97 Hope this helps.

Posted by Brandon on Aug. 22, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

There are many people in SF with good hearts who have tried to make cannabis accessible in a humane way. Despite all their good intentions, they have paved the way for the mega capitalists to steal the show. These will muscle their way in and rub out the people with good intentions.

Doubt it? Look at the history of the alcohol industry after prohibition was repealed. Look at the history of the tobacco industry. Does anyone think that things will be any different with marijuana?

Prohibition doesn't work. We all know that. There are huge numbers of people who want to get drunk and/or stoned, and a significant number of them are addicts. No law will ever be able to dissuade them.

The alternative to prohibition is corporate exploitation of the marketplace. Giant corporations create dependence on their products, eliminate competition, jack up prices, exploit workers, and befoul the environment. Such will the be the pattern with marijuana, once it's legalized.

So thanks to all of you who acted with good intentions in regard to marijuana. You have paved the way for the sharks, and they are about to eat you up.

It's the American way.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 10:11 am

This is the problem, with Prop 19: it allows local City & County authorities to set as-yet undefined taxes and regulations.

This is a recipe for chaos...local politicians will pit the would-be cannabis entrepreneurs against NIMBY zealots, in every City Council meeting in the State, for years to come.

In many localities throughout California, the local governing bodies are still fundamentally hostile to even the idea of medical marijuana. They are likely to seize the opportunities presented by the "legalization" of marijuana to find new and creative ways to thwart it.

Furthermore, a unilateral move to "legalize" marijuana in California might invite an unwelcome intervention, on the part of the Federal Government, just at the moment that the medical marijuana movement seems find itself on solid ground, at long last.

As much as I hate to say it, Prop 19 might end up being a case of "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it".

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 10:22 am

That is a specious argument. One need to look no further than the microbrew market to realize just how full of it you are. I just got back from Costco where I bought my favorite low-carbon beverage, Anchor Steam. Maybe your America looks to giant corporations for their products but where I live we are more interested in local artisan-produced products. After the passage of this law I will be looking for the Keep Mendo Green label and you are free to shop at Walmart/K-mart/Best Buy etc. for your Monsanto-grown cannabis produced in a factory by exploited workers. Freedom of choice is the American way!

Posted by Dr. Robert on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 10:30 am

"Maybe your America looks to giant corporations for their products but where I live we are more interested in local artisan-produced products."

- Dr. Robert

Thank goodness there are still some local, artisan-produced products available where you come from.

However, both the California economy and the American economy are dominated by huge corporations. Look at the figures comparing the income of the big corporations with that of local artisans. It's like the difference between the planet Jupiter and the moon.

People used to grow their own tobacco, too, and roll their own cigarettes. Look at what happened. Such are the facts of life.

It will be the same with marijuana. Only some stoners and SF politicians are foolish enough to expect otherwise.

In the end, there will be two choices here - prohibition or mega-corporate domination of the market.

Take your pick and live with it.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

I live here in SF where I shop at farmer's markets, boutiques and street vendors as well as Costco. I was raised in VA where some folks do still grow their own tobacco for personal use. Arthur, you are free to choose where your priorities lie and use your hard-earned money there.

I've picked a different quality of life than you seem to desire. America is a wonderful place because we have the freedom to make these choices. What if we make a little deal just between the two of us, you can patronize mega-corporations and I will patronize businesses such as my new favorite dispensary, SPARC.

Now that I know they will recycle those cool jars I'm going to encourage their sustainable business practices. I can live with that ending, can you?

Posted by Dr. Robert on Aug. 18, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

You certainly are prone to hyperbole and false choices, Arthur, whether you're talking about weed or the sit-lie ordinance. But in both cases, you've got your facts wrong, so maybe you should take a puff and just calm down a little.
While it's certainly likely that big corporations will try to capture some of the marijuana market, as they always do with lucrative commodities, the knowledge, ability, and means for anyone to grow it are far too widely disbursed now for any corporate interest to corner this market. Add to that a fiercely independent culture that surrounds cannabis and the scenario you laid out just ain't gonna happen.
Plus, I need to correct your original analogy to tobacco, which was largely a corporate-controlled export commodity from the early colonial days. While there were and are small tobacco farmers, they never controlled that industry the way that small growers and dealers have always controlled the marijuana industry.

Posted by steven on Aug. 19, 2010 @ 9:54 am

If pot becomes legal Archer Daniels Midland and Monsanto will in three or four years have growing it down to a science. Farmers will plow under soy beans and corn to grow it by the hundreds of acres.

From the present costs will be subtracted; the illegality, the inability to move in truck, railroad, container ship quantities, the remoteness of wilderness growing, and the work ethic of stoners.

What will be brought is massive harvesting using the most modern and strains of seeds and equipment, bug killers, weed killers, fertilizers and logistics. Oddly in this case likely making a regulated product that is cleaner and less abusive to the environment than the present cartel product. Also minus the acid baths and beheadings.

If the tax on an ounce is 50$ the cost of an ounce will be 55$ at the Pharmacy.

The average stoner across America has little interest in the SF world view, not to mention lazy, and will buy whatever is cheapest.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 20, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

Thank you for your post above, Dr. Robert.

You say:

"I've picked a different quality of life than you seem to desire."

Don't stone the messenger for delivering the message. I am an opponent of the mega corporations. But we have to deal with the facts as they are, not as we would like them to be. Otherwise, we get totally screwed.

Have you ever looked at the history of the tobacco industry? Tobacco was once grown on small farms, and people rolled their own cigarettes.

Also, tobacco was originally NOT inhaled. Because of the way it was originally cured, tobacco burned the lungs. It was impossible to inhale it. As a result, smoking was far less damaging to the lungs. People just let the smoke roll in their mouths and then exhaled it.

Then the tobacco capitalists took over the industry. The devised a new way of curing tobacco, making it possible for people to inhale it. They also made chemical changes to it that made it more addictive. You're a doctor, so you know all the ugly consequences that followed.

What makes you think the cannabis capitalists will be any different?

They will mass produce joints, rub out the small operators, and make cannabis more addictive. They will pour huge amounts of money into the pockets of politicians and political groups that support their mercenary agendas. All the problems that emerged with the tobacco capitalists will re-emerge with the cannabis capitalists.

It won't do for cannabis advocates to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that cannabis will somehow be exempt from the usual sorry patterns of mega capitalism.

Nobody gets a pass from the realities of the market place, not even stoners.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 19, 2010 @ 10:05 am

Thank you for your comments above, Steven.

You say:

"I need to correct your original analogy to tobacco, which was largely a corporate-controlled export commodity from the early colonial days. While there were and are small tobacco farmers, they never controlled that industry the way that small growers and dealers have always controlled the marijuana industry."

Wrong. Tobacco was originally used by the American Indians, before the coming of the Europeans and the later development of either farms or corporations.

The Indians used tobacco in ceremonial contexts and as gifts. It never became a mass-produced commercial commodity with them. No corporation controlled the market. It was a totally autonomous affair.

Later, the European invaders created small farms for growing tobacco. Later still, these were supplanted by large plantations, which were in turn supplanted by big corporations. Agribusiness prevailed.

As noted in my earlier post, even among the European invaders, tobacco consumption was different from today. The smoke was not originally inhaled into the lungs.

Also, it took some effort to light up a cigarette - requiring tinder and rock or metal to generate a spark. It became much easier to consume cigarettes in a large-scale, addictive manner with the invention of an important adjunct - matches.

There's no reason to think that the cannabis capitalists won't follow the pattern of the tobacco capitalists. They will do everything in their power to push cannabis on everyone, make it more addictive, and create adjunct technologies that make it more amenable to compulsive, addictive behavior.

Along the way, they will reap many billions of dollars in profit. Any group that tries to recreate the good-old-days of home grown cannabis will be seen as quirky and backward-looking, just as some folks today view the original practices of the American Indians.

Prohibition didn't work. It's time for it to go.

But don't kid yourself. The future belongs to the big-time cannabis capitalists.

They will make everyone an offer they can't refuse.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 19, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

Arthur, you are mistaken again. Cannabis is NOT addictive. While folks will acclimate to how it affects their body chemistry they do not become addicted to it like they do with nicotine or alcohol. Mass production is possible but that assumption won't hold water either because its effect on everyone has subtle differences. When you actually read this article you will see how enlightened dispensaries, like SPARC, are counting on innovative breeding to produce strains with less mind-altering properties yet more medicinal value.

A mega-corporation, Sanofi-Aventis, did launch a product, Rimonabant, which worked through the endocannabinoid system. It was essentially an anti-munchies drug for weight loss but, thank goodness, the FDA never approved it here in America. After users developed psychoses in the 56 countries which did approve it the company pulled it from the market. I believe it did about 75 million euros in business worldwide before it was pulled but that is not much money when compared to the development costs and liabilities for Sanofi-Aventis.

You may want to get your facts straight before you make inept comparisons.

Posted by Dr. Robert on Aug. 20, 2010 @ 10:21 am

You know, I am 100% in favor of legalizing pot. The terrible destruction that has been wreaked on millions of innocent people by putting them in prison over nonviolent drug offenses is one of the worst and most abusive developments in human history.

But I also get really sick of the complete bullshit arguments that far too many pot supporters babble out to support their case. The primary two that really piss me off are 1) "Pot doesn't impair driving." (Anyone who has ever been really high knows this is complete crap.)

And 2) "Pot is not addictive." Give me a break. I lived in strip mall devastated mid-west towns for a while when I was young, where young people have essentially little more to do to gain some sort of enjoyment in their lives than to party hard, a lot.

Almost every pot smoker I knew was so hopelessly addicted to it, that they essentially spent almost all of their time in life driving around trying to find pot. They couldn't begin, go through, or complete their days without it, and it was a near complete obsession to them.

Pot is addictive. Just because people don't have obvious physical withdrawal symptoms, doesn't mean the chemistry of their brains can't get addicted to getting high.

By all means advocate for legalization, but when you do so with stupid hyperbolic arguments that most sensible people know are absurd, you -hurt- the cause and make it take longer to achieve legalization.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Aug. 20, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

Eric, your brain chemistry can be changed by a lot of things, just look into what sugar (e.g. glucose) does to it. It is NOT the same process found when nicotine, alcohol or many other foreign substances are ingested. There is an excellent article in this Guardian issue by someone whose psychological addiction led her down an unsustainable path.

Obviously, you only knew folks like her when you were a young man living in the mid-west. There are a lot more of us who are able to maintain strong professional careers and not get on that unsustainable merry-go-round. You should get to know a few of us because we're doing some amazing things these days.

Proposition 19 simply gives our preference a legitimacy we have lacked since Harry Anslinger wrote the 1937 Marijuana Stamp Act.

Posted by Dr. Robert on Aug. 20, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

Thank you, Dr. Robert, for your continuing contributions to this thread.

In a post above, you say:

"Cannabis is NOT addictive."

There are degrees of addictiveness. Cannabis is mildly addictive. Tobacco is severely addictive.

With drugs that are mildly addictive, many people can use them and not have any problems. However, a significant number will.

With drugs that are severely addictive, all users will become addicted after a certain threshold of use is passed.

Over the years, I have personally known people, some very close to me, who used pot on a regular basis, who wanted to stop, but couldn't. Their pot use screwed up their lives, they knew it, and they couldn't change. This is addiction.

Let's legalize pot and allow people to make their own decisions about using it. But let's not kid ourselves about the basic facts of life.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 20, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

Arthur, while your personal experiences are certainly valid they are not supported by peer-reviewed scientific studies. In a 2004 article published in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health by Craig Reinarman, professor of sociology at UCSC, along with Peter D. A. Cohen, director of the Centre for Drug Research (CEDRO) at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Hendrien L. Kaal, now an instructor at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, cannabis use habits were compared between Amsterdam and San Francisco.

Amsterdam decriminalized cannabis in 1976 and it is readily available in coffeeshops. “We compared representative samples of experienced marijuana users to see whether the lawful availability of marijuana did, in fact, lead to the problems critics of the Dutch system have claimed,” said Reinarman. “We found no evidence that it does. In fact, we found consistently strong similarities in patterns of marijuana use, despite vastly different national drug policies.”

Identical questionnaires administered in Amsterdam and San Francisco (cities chosen for their similarities as politically liberal northern port cities with universities and populations of roughly 700,000 people), nearly 500 respondents who had used marijuana at least 25 times were asked detailed questions about their marijuana use. The questionnaire explored such issues as age at first use, regular and maximum use, frequency and quantity of use over time, intensity and duration of intoxication, career use patterns, and use of other illicit drugs.

Highlights of the study include:

• The mean age at onset of use was 16.95 years in Amsterdam and 16.43 years in San Francisco.

• The mean age at which respondents began using marijuana more than once per month was 19.11 years in Amsterdam and 18.81 years in San Francisco.

• In both cities, users began their periods of maximum use about two years after they began regular use: 21.46 years in Amsterdam and 21.98 years in San Francisco.

• About 75 percent in both cities had used cannabis less than once per week or not at all in the year before the interview.

• Majorities of experienced users in both cities never used marijuana daily or in large amounts even during their periods of peak use, and use declined after those peak periods.

I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion that a significant number of people will develop problems with their cannabis use once Proposition 19 passes. Actually, it seems that prohibition has led to a more cavalier approach towards other, more dangerous, illicit drugs here in San Francisco. "The study found no evidence that lawfully regulated cannabis provides a “gateway” to other illicit drug use. In fact, marijuana users in San Francisco were far more likely to have used other illicit drugs--cocaine, crack, amphetamines, ecstasy, and opiates--than users in Amsterdam," said Reinarman.

I'm not kidding anyone with these facts, our current cannabis prohibition only opens the door to those drugs which you claim have some greater degree of addictiveness. Letting folks make their own decisions about cannabis use is the basic premise underlying Proposition 19.

Posted by Dr. Robert on Aug. 20, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

So it comes down to this?

If Prop 19 fails it will be because of a split between the potheads themselves.

The "Medical" folks have a good thing going and they don't want to see it messed up. It's the "I got's mine" syndrome.

Come on!

We have been persecuted and imprisoned together for years and now you are just kicking your brother's to the curb. The boy's were right when they once said he'll..."Steal your face right of your head."

VOTE YES ON 19

Posted by Oh Come On! on Aug. 20, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

Thank you, Dr. Robert, for you thoughtful post above.

Please reread the material you cite. It does not contradict the point that I made, namely, that cannabis is addictive to a minority of its users.

As noted earlier in this thread, I know this fact from personal experience covering decades. I have seen, first hand, a number of people (dear to me, alas) ruin their lives because of their addiction to pot. Your studies do not claim that such addiction does not occur.

We both agree that pot should be legalized despite the fact that it is addictive for some people. Tobacco is far more addictive than pot and is legal. So why shouldn't pot be, too?

I'm a big believer in the right of people to ruin their own lives as they see fit. However, I'm also a big believer in facing facts as they are, and not substituting rhetoric for reality.

Let's legalize pot. Let's also frankly acknowledge that some people's lives will be ruined in the process. And let's acknowledge that big corporations will take over the pot market just as they have the tobacco market.

As we travel along this path, we would do well to remember that wisdom is also needed in life in addition to freedom. Having choices is not enough. Wisdom and character development are needed in order to make the proper choices, once freedom is at hand.

Which brings to mind the ancient Greek writer Xenophon. He and some of his freedom-loving Greek soldiers were once wandering through threatening territory in despotic Persia. He reminded them:

"See that you be men who are worthy of the freedom you possess."

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 21, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

The feds have not yet completed their fight....I have a friend who works at a large bank, these banks are federally regulated. They are currently working with the federal government to shut down the ability of dispensaries to deposit funds into these banks based on the federal illegality of marijuana. What are the dispensaries going to do when they lose the ability to deposit and manage funds in the banking system? Back to a cash system only?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

The amount of time, money, and effort wasted by the Feds and the states in trying to suppress people's use of soft drugs is mind-boggling. Law-enforcement resources are wasted; people who aren't hurting anybody are pushed around; and huge amounts of potential tax revenues are lost.

Let's hope that CA voters approve the use of marijuana for adult recreational use, and that this approval is used as leverage to get the Feds to rethink their own policies.

The effort to legalize marijuana frankly acknowledges that there will always be a large number of people who are determined to befog their own minds with drugs and/or alcohol. No amount of preaching or legislating will change their attitudes. They act with the same focus and determination in befogging their minds that a cat displays in going after a mouse.

Naturally enough, those who value mental clarity are always dismayed by such spectacles. Why would anyone deliberately strive to stunt the natural-born lucidity of his or own mind? It's like wrapping a tight cord around your fingers in order to prevent yourself from becoming manually dexterous.

Not very smart, but that's human folly for you. People have every right to make fools of themselves as long as they're not causing a problem to others.

Hopefully, some folks somewhere will also give as much attention to attaining wisdom and developing character as others do to getting stoned or drunk.

Then again, the quest for excellence will never be able to muster as many investors, politicians, lawyers, and spinners.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 22, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

Wouldn't legalization bring down the price for everyone, including medical patients? I'm not in favor of all the taxing and regulation but it takes incremental change to change the status quo. It's also required to make it more palatable to the general public. I'll take regulation, control, and taxation over prison any day.

Posted by Mark on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

Vote YES and be done with it. I know we have the hippies that don't want to pay taxes and the weed should be free. I know we should tax medicine... I know everyone hates taxes.

But you know what I hate. Explaining that $100 misdemeanor to every employer because I don't drink to relax.

So stop preaching and end the persecution. PLEASE...

--Just Vote Yes--

Posted by Common Sense on Aug. 26, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

I understand the frustration of those who want to get stoned without any hassles. Stoners are entitled to befog their minds if they want to, just like boozers.

The law should be changed to let them do so. Equal opportunity for all forms of dumbing down, that's what I say!

So let's approve this initiative. But let's not stop thinking about the larger picture.

SF is a drug-sick, alcohol-sick city. It has one of the highest rates of addiction and alcoholism for a city its size in the nation.

Nearly ever San Franciscan, in every walk of life, knows someone who has a problem with drugs and/or alcohol. Nearly all the people living on the streets are addicts or alcoholics.

Look at all the energy that goes into making drugs more accessible in SF, as opposed to the energy that goes into creating a life of sanity and balance.

Why the imbalance? Why the taboo on discussing the extent of the city's problem with drugs and alcohol?

And how did it happen that so many of those who claim to be the vanguard of progress in SF politics are so often stoned or drunk out of their minds?

Socrates was right after all:

"For a human being, the unexamined life is not worth living."

Bummer, huh?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 27, 2010 @ 9:43 am

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