October 7, 2012

How Many Safe Access Points Should Be Allowed In A Town, City, County, Or State?

October 7, 2012
Massachusetts medical marijuana senate bill sb 1031

medical cannabis collective ordinanceShould There Be Limits On The Number Of Medical Cannabis Safe Access Points In An Area?

I think we can all agree that there needs to be safe access points for medical cannabis patients who are unable to grow their own medicine. Without safe access points, or dispensaries or collectives or whatever you call them in your area, the neediest medical cannabis patients often go without their medicine. Not everyone has a green thumb, or the money to purchase growing equipment, or for that matter maybe they live in an assisted care facility that doesn’t allow medical cannabis to be grown. There are numerous reasons and/or situations that result in a legal medical cannabis patient having to go without their medicine, unless they can obtain it from a safe establishment or delivery service.

Anyone who thinks that a medical cannabis patient, who is legally authorized to use cannabis per their doctor’s recommendation, should go without their medicine is cruel. No one should have to go without safe, doctor-recommended, proven medicine – cannabis or otherwise. It’s not a cannabis reform issue as much as it’s just a simple compassion issue. I know that medical cannabis opponents might argue their stubborn points until they are blue in the face, but at the end of the day, I guarantee at least a piece of them feels bad that they have a heart smaller than the Grinch before a Christmas Eve jacking spree.

Since I look at the need for safe access points as a given, I have been shifting my conversations with activists to a new-ish area of conversation. There needs to be safe access points for suffering medical cannabis patients, but how many should there be? Is there such thing as too many? Should there be a limit?

Let’s say you are in the crowd that feels there needs to be a limit, which believe it or not, there are many people that I know that feel this way. They are all collective owners themselves, which may or may not hint at their motives, but I’ll leave that for another conversation. I will concede their point that it’s much, much easier to get city councils and state committees to compromise on regulations if there are some limits put in place. If you are in this set of people, how do you feel is the best way to set  those limits? Should it be per number of patients in the area, such as one collective for every 1,000 patients? Should it be capped by zone such as in Arizona? Or capped statewide such as in New Jersey?

Capping the number of safe access points can lead to monopolies, which can lead to price gouging, inferior meds, and it makes it much easier for the feds to target locations. So does that mean we shouldn’t have limits? After all, it’s a harmless substance, so why should it be limited? On the other hand, a proliferation of storefronts can lead to backlash, as was seen in Los Angeles and Montana. No regulations can also lead to a lot of bad meds, as any person with a store, cash register, and display case can start flinging their inferior meds out there.

Many will point out that market forces would take over if there were little to no limits, just as in any other industry. However, I’m always quick ask them, the question, “do we want the marketplace to determine how safe access for desperate patients works?” After all, we aren’t talking about people buying potatoes – we are talking about people using medicine that they need to alleviate their symptoms. It’s a tough thing to balance for sure.

What do readers think? Would you be willing to have less safe access points if it meant the authorities were willing to compromise? Are you a collective owner who feels strongly one way or another? Have you been shut down by regulations that you felt were ridiculous? Do readers feel that we should just open up so many safe access points that authorities can’t shut them all down? How many safe access points do you think there should be in your area? I look forward to your comments.


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