By Barry Blunt
On Monday, California's Supreme Court unanimously (7-0) ruled against compassion, giving cities and counties the carte blanche to place outright bans on any and all dispensaries within their borders. This decision has immediate consequences for countless business owners, employees, and, above all else, medical marijuana patients throughout California that will now have no legal, feasible way to access their medication.
Needless to say, this inane ruling is a devastating blow to Los Angeles' medical marijuana community, and, on a grander scale, sets back our nation's long term goal of legalization. When California made history in 1996 by legalizing medical marijuana through California's Compassionate Use Act, the future seemed full of potential. Yet, 17 years later, the same government that approved this law now does everything it can to hinder it, and the myth of reefer madness continues to carry weight.
WeedMaps CEO Justin Hartfield, cannabis activist extraordinaire and a board member of NORML and the MPP released this poignant statement on the raids:
"We are extremely disappointed with the California Supreme Court's decision, as hundreds of thousands of California residents rely on legal access to medical marijuana for various chronic health conditions. The court's ruling puts power in the hands of people who don't understand the medicinal value of marijuana and the positive effect it has on patient outcomes. Additionally, if cities ban marijuana dispensaries, cannabis prices would surely rise as patients would be forced to go underground or find elicit means to purchase medical marijuana.
"Today's State Supreme Court decision violates the true intent of California's Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program, which makes marijuana accessible to residents with a doctor's prescription.
"Our company will continue to be at the forefront of this issue, educating the general public and local authorities on the benefits of medical cannabis from both a health perspective, as well as its potential economic impact on state revenues, which can help serve as a catalyst for leading the way to legalizing marijuana nationwide."
Medical Marijuana is, obviously, by all means legal in the state of California. But local governments can-now on demand-call up the DEA to "take out their trash" and rid them of the lurking evil that dispensaries represent to the ignorant. The constant disconnect between state, local, and federal law-both in California and other progressive Medical Marijuana states.
And real people suffer because of decisions made by backwards, conservative government officials living in the past. Here's the words of one patient who spoke out on WeedMaps Facebook page:
"ripped my heart out yesterday when I made my monthly trip to stock up on my meds when I found out all my garden grove dispensaries are forced to close Friday. thanks for your compassion federal government. glad to see you care about the people who voted you into your positions. when drug cartels are better funded due to this, YOU ARE TO BLAME, NOT US!!!!"
He's not alone. Patients in cities including Santa Ana, Garden Grove, San Bernardino, Long Beach, Costa Mesa, Riverside, and many, many more now have no choice but to turn to the natural-and highly illegal-alternative: The Black Market.
Even in Colorado-a state where marijuana is completely legal-the state's government is doing anything in its power to prevent cannabis from progressing. They're planning to elevate taxes north of 30%, implementing weed DUIs for anyone that so much as puffs a joint, and prohibiting the sale of cannabis magazines in local stores.
Like the recent decision in California, these efforts will sustain drug cartels and illegal activity, all while hindering safe and logical access to medical marijuana. And while it takes away jobs from compassionate people, it allows the DEA and activist groups to hand out jobs and fill up their pockets by the minute.
These combined factors set legalization efforts back, and exemplify how long a way we have to go before we see federally legal weed. While the majority of our nation supports legalization, this majority does not go out to vote enough for the plant they love, nor do they hold enough positions of power in state, local, and federal government positions. This all must change.
Sometimes you have to take steps backwards to take step forwards. While this tragic development in Southern California along with Colorado's conservative laws are big steps backwards, it is now the industry and the patients' job to fight for our rights to ensure we come back stronger than ever.