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News (Media Awareness Project) - CA: OPED: Don't Confuse Legitimate Marijuana Dispensaries With
Title:CA: OPED: Don't Confuse Legitimate Marijuana Dispensaries With
Published On:2011-10-18
Source:San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Fetched On:2011-10-23 06:01:11
DON'T CONFUSE LEGITIMATE MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES WITH POT CLUBS

The cannabis issue has really heated up. The federal government
announced plans to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries and on
landlords from whom they rent throughout California.

As an owner of a public relations agency, I understand the power of
words -- how they can influence public perception. In the case of the
medical marijuana industry, I would like to define the differences
between a dispensary and a club.

Dispensaries are being unfairly targeted due to clubs that have gone
rogue.

Dispensaries respect Proposition 215 and SB 420 and act with
transparency. Clubs do not.

Both patients and dispensaries want to see clubs close.

Clubs can be easily identified. If there is a soda machine, 12 theater
seats, five vaporizers, three flat screens, a popcorn cart, the Studio
54 disco ball, and Andy Warhol is your bud-tender, this is a club.
Clubs sometimes operate out of abandoned warehouses. They only accept
cash because when the heat is on, they pack the van and move
operations elsewhere.

Holistic Health Care Center and Elemental Wellness in San Jose are
examples of good dispensaries. They both provide safe, secure
locations, clean atmospheres and quality products affordable for most
patients.

Dispensaries aren't afraid of rules. In fact, many San Jose
dispensaries have joined the United Food and Commercial Workers Union
5 to create a set of best practices to follow. The dispensaries want
the public to see them as a legitimate business which has a positive
impact through employment and tax revenue, while still providing
compassionate care for patients. Closing the dispensaries is
irresponsible because it doesn't examine the overall negative impact
it will have on the community.

The feds announced they will not target patients who have small grows.
So let me get this straight. The government wants me to plant pot so
my neighbor's kids can break into my house for weed to get stoned with
their dopey friends?

The police and the court system are now burdened by reports of
break-ins, trigger-happy patients shooting at suspected robbers,
clogged courtrooms and more incarceration in an already jam-packed
state prison system.

What about house fires caused by "Joe the plumber" who decided to play
electrician today and hot-wires his grow lights to his Jacuzzi? What
about patients who live in apartments or shared housing and can't grow
their own medical cannabis? They'd have to get their medication from a
drug dealer.

Drug dealers recruit kids from parks to sell their dope. If the kids
get caught, there is little punishment, and their records are expunged
at age 18.

Drug dealers do not report income to the IRS, clubs try to hide most
of their income, but dispensaries can tell you where every buck came
from.

Dispensary closures will also affect industries in support of the
cannabis industry. Edwin Kwong is owner of Mega Productions, which
hosts HempCon, an expo that offers classes from cooking to
cultivation. He says the three-day event brings revenue to San Jose
businesses of more than a quarter of a million dollars. That's not
chump change.

Instead of creating more friction, government should work with the
medical cannabis industry for a common goal of serving the patients
while respecting California voters' decision. This would include
creating a set of best practices, examining and revising Proposition
215 if need be and lastly, working with the industry to keep people
employed.
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