So here’s a fun headline: DA prepares to crack down on pot outlets

Published online 9 October 2009.

Front page headline, Los Angeles Times, Friday, October 9th: “DA prepares to crack down on pot outlets.”  Summary, analysis, in context.

(crossposted at Docudharma)


Just a clip from this one (the first three sentences of course, as journalists all write in the upside-down pyramid format):

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said Thursday he will prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries for over-the-counter sales, targeting a practice that has become commonplace under an initiative approved by California voters more than a decade ago.

“The vast, vast, vast majority, about 100%, of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally, they are dealing marijuana illegally, according to our theory,” he said. “The time is right to deal with this problem.”

Message to Steve Cooley: “The time is right”?  The state is broke.  School districts and college campuses everywhere are getting cut back: $813 million from UC alone, although that doesn’t mean that the executives will lose their pay raises.  Tuition and fee increases: over 32%.  Cutbacks?  20%.  Massive cutbacks to a prison system at 190% of capacity.  So what does our county’s District Attorney do with whatever moneys are not going to our colleges, our schools, our prisons?  Prosecute pot dispensaries!  No wonder I feel so safe.

Of course, most of this article is about “the law.”  Question: why is THIS law so important, at a time of desperate fiscal crisis?  As we can see toward the end of the article:

Medical marijuana advocates, however, note that the state currently requires dispensaries to collect sales taxes on marijuana, and that guidelines drawn up by the attorney general conclude that “a properly organized and operated collective or cooperative that dispenses medical marijuana through a storefront may be lawful.”

As if the state were already collecting too much in sales tax revenues!

The LA Times, to its credit, has more online stuff on medical marijuana.  Here’s an editorial piece on an LA City Council hearing:

“I was expecting the city attorney’s office to take a hard line with regulations, like how far they should be from schools and places of worship,” Bowen told me after the hearing.

But she was shocked to learn that the ordinance being considered would stop over-the-counter sales at dispensaries and allow only “collectives,” where patients would have to plant, grow and harvest the marijuana they need.

“I can’t grow my own,” said Bowen, a 56-year-old former talent agent. “I have a brown thumb.”

The line drew laughs from council members. But the prospects for patients like her aren’t very funny.

So if you’re legally blind from glaucoma and you have a medical marijuana slip from your doctor, you still have to grow the plants yourself even though you can’t see them?  Fun.

The Times editorial has an amusing opinion too.  Let’s look at it:

City Atty. Carmen Trutanich is recommending a very cautious approach, with outright sales banned in favor of patient cooperatives. That comes as a jolt not just to recreational users but to patients who finally have safe and convenient access to pain relief and treatment. With the drug now so widely available, it would be hard to return to the days of cannabis clubs.

But Trutanich also points out that the marijuana being sold all over the city could (and he says in at least two test cases did) contain dangerous levels of pesticides and other contaminants, and that clinics may well get their stash from the same cartels that have wreaked so much havoc — and violence — in Mexico. It may not be the city’s role to regulate the product or its importation, but what’s the value of “compassionate use” for medical purposes if the product actually is poisonous and if clinics, rather than providing safety, are supplied by criminals?

The chemical content of the various marijuanas being sold may be a valid concern, of course, but that isn’t what the city of Los Angeles, nor the county, is after.  They are planning to use tax revenues (which could go to a number of much better causes) to hire lawyers (wouldn’t it just be cheaper just to buy some chemical testing devices, and mandate that the customers be allowed to test the product they’re buying?) to prosecute medical pot dealers under the suspicion that they aren’t really serving people who have a “real” medical need for marijuana.

Oh, the worries which consume those with control over public monies!


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