Are Recreational Users Hijacking LA's Pot Clinics?

Councilmember Josè Huizar and ERNC President Michael Larsen tell the New York Times California's cannabis laws are being misused.


Click here to read the full story on the New York Times—and post your comments below.

bbkong October 08, 2012 at 11:31 PM
"the Neighborhood Council has made Eagle Rock a national spectacle." I'm sure the Council is proud of this achievement. Much has been made of the "abuse" of recreational users at this site, some even claim the ability to discern recreational users from "real" patients, but the truth is that if it makes someone feel better there's no reason to deny it. Sadly, some people feel like it's their business to dictate what others can do when it clearly is not. Like segregationists and those who would deny the vote to blacks or women, history will not judge them kindly.
Frank Mihelcic October 09, 2012 at 12:40 AM
As a North Hollywood resident it seems odd why we need so many Medical marijuana storefronts. They must be making money since more keep opening. I am 100%positive there are not enough patients in the area or that come to the area to support the profits of all these storefronts. I do feel sorry for the patents. It seems many of them have no place to live other than their cars yet they are very giving people. They huddle in their cars sharing their medical marijuana with other patients and recycle their plastic prescription containers in every ones yard. This is retail selling of marijuana to any one.
John October 09, 2012 at 02:03 AM
AFG- According to Time.com, Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths! States that legalize medical marijuana see fewer fatal car accidents, in part because people may be substituting marijuana smoking for drinking alcohol. A study from the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compared traffic deaths over time in states with and without medical marijuana law changes. Researchers found that fatal car wrecks dropped by 9% in states that legalized medical use — largely attributable to a decline in drunk driving. The rate of fatal crashes in which a driver had consumed any alcohol dropped 12% after medical marijuana was legalized, and crashes involving high levels of alcohol consumption fell 14%. The overall reduction in traffic deaths was comparable to that seen after the national minimum drinking age was raised to 21. The study also found that in states that legalized medical use, there was no increase in marijuana smoking by teenagers. The laws were linked with an increase in marijuana smoking among adults in their 20s; this rise was accompanied by a reduction in alcohol use by college age youth, suggesting that they were smoking weed instead. Studies have consistently found that while mixing either marijuana or alcohol with driving is unadvisable, driving high is much safer than driving drunk. The data also consistently shows that using both drugs together is worst of all.
John October 09, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Frank - the containers are labeled with the name of the dispensary. If you have litter, let the dispensary know and they will track down the perpetrators.
AFG October 09, 2012 at 02:32 AM
@John: I know that it must not be every smoker, however ALL of the MMJ people that I know ALL drink, too, and tend to use their medicine in a party atmosphere where both things are mixed just like they were when they were in high school.
John October 09, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Like I always say, alcohol is worse than marijuana, and people who drink are more likely to do drugs like methamphetamine, vicodin, and cocaine. Prescription drug abusers are often drunks too. People who smoke marijuana drink less, and do other drugs less than drinkers. (But they probably tried them in college).
Michael Larsen October 09, 2012 at 03:04 AM
John, You're just plain wrong. I've got a container sitting in front of me that I picked up in a neighbor's yard this morning that doesn't have the name of the dispensary, patient, or doctor. If it did, a lot of the problems that I've been trying to address would be nonexistent. But I understand that ANY regulation that might require this information on the Rx container would be against your principles, so I wouldn't expect you to be in favor of such a simple solution.
AFG October 09, 2012 at 03:24 AM
@John: I'm just not sure you can make that generalization. It's not like MMJ people are a different breed. They are people who are different and do different things from one another. Marijuana in the hands of a substance abuser is still going to be abused. I know MMJ ers who drink like there no tomorrow as they had alcohol issues before they got MMJ. It doesn't seem that the drs. are really checking into stuff like that. At least theirs aren't. It seems quite negligent to me. Re: the above post: I don't understand why MMJ does not have an RX number, patient and doctor name. If it is medicine then it should be treated like one and dispensed like one. The dispensary should be cited for not having the correct information and record keeping. It's either medicine or it's not. I can't be treated like it's both.
John October 09, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Michael - I guess all the containers I have seen did have the dispensary label, as well as warnings about driving or using alcohol when using mmj. They were also delivered in a sealed bag, and patients had to sign an agreement not to share, open their meds until they got home, and not to park, litter or smoke in the neighborhood. But it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. I think you know where every dispensary is and any one of them could probably tell you the source. I do believe any dispensary would provide litter clean up and help figure out who is responsible for putting them on your bad side. I also don't see the patient name on cigarettes or beer or coffee cups. It would sure be easier to track down litter if the abuser's name were on them too. As you know, aspirin is far deadlier than marijuana, and it doesn't have patient specific labeling rules. You can't overdose and die from smoking marijuana. Its a recommendation, not a prescription. No FDA label needed. Since I have never found marijuana containers in my neighborhood, I apologize for your neighborhood being such a magnet for marijuana containers. Are they always the same kind? or many different kinds? Do they have warning labels or are they prescription drug containers? Do you have underage drinking or lovers lane issues too? Do you have a great view? Have you ever presented the containers to any dispensary? Have you tried offering the homeless a reward for picking up containers?
ERHS Moms October 09, 2012 at 03:54 AM
It is not the same at all that alcohol and cigarettes do not have name labels on them because according to THIS law that is in place it is the marijuana that is medicine. Citing that alcohol, aspirin, etc. are worse really don't make a difference because they are not RX medications. Where is the common sense behind medical marijuana not being name and MMD labeled? Is there a reason?
Michael Larsen October 09, 2012 at 04:08 AM
No, John, I haven't tried offering homeless people a reward for picking up after the illegal pot stores. But I HAVE asked the federal government to come in and clean up their messes, and so far so good. For some reason they are more persuasive.
bbkong October 09, 2012 at 04:29 AM
@Michael "But I HAVE asked the federal government to come in and clean up their messes, and so far so good. For some reason they are more persuasive." Some people see this as a betrayal to the will of Eagle Rock voters. I don't suppose a referendum on this next ballot was ever considered as it would be contrary to the blatant agenda pursued by the council and may have not gone the way they wished. Oh look, there's some Taco Bell wrappers out there on my sidewalk. Maybe I should call them up! I'm sure they wouldn't laugh at me either. On second thought, maybe I should just pick them up and throw them in the trash and not be such a petty little bitch. After reading your posts for the last couple of weeks Michael, I'm starting to wonder if you haven't considered the possibility that you aren't doing your friends on the ballot any favors.
Michael Larsen October 09, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Some people (myself included) would say that the way the stores have been operating has been"a betrayal to the will of Eagle Rock voters" who voted for Prop 215 back in 1996. We'll find out which way ER voters will go soon enough. I hope that they will vote for the Eagle Rock Neighbors Slate http://www.eaglerockneighbors.info/ as it is comprised of folks who are courteous, respectful and likely to attend ERNC meetings AFTER the excitement of the campaign has died down. As for your Taco Bell wrappers, I really wouldn't expect you to be able to leave your keyboard long enough to actually pick anything up. ;-)
John October 09, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Michael - Litter is one thing. Putting marijuana back into the underground, limiting safe access, impeding commerce, denying free markets, and calling the federal government on your neighbors seems kinda mean and nasty to me - and I didn't do anything to you.
John October 09, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Hi ERHS Moms - wisely, nobody thought it was necessary. I thought most dispensaries were required to put the warning label on, and seal the bag, but maybe they just do it voluntarily to be nice. Since the FDA still considers marijuana a plant, and can't seem to decide what else it is, they don't have a clue what to put on the label. Again, doctors recommend marijuana, it is not a DEA prescription. Federal laws on marijuana are ancient, arbirtrary, and unscientific. They don't say why tobacco is less regulated. I ask that any marijuana laws include the comparison chart above. Just legalize it and quit worrying.
Michael Larsen October 09, 2012 at 05:17 AM
" I thought most dispensaries were required to put the warning label on, and seal the bag" John, please tell us who you thought required this, and more importantly, who you thought enforced this requirement. I'm not in anyway being facetious here. I've found that a lot of well meaning, smart people actually think that there are requirements, rules, regulations in place for MMDs that are being enforced and overseen by some official entity. It's just not true.
John October 09, 2012 at 06:30 AM
Well Michael, I'm old and lazy and only patronize one dispensary, and not that frequently. But I have been there when the LA County Sherrif was advising the operators not to keep a lot of cash, checking their city business license, checking how much inventory was on hand, and advising the operators to tell patients not to park in the neighborhood. The Sherrif told them to check actual patient recommendations every time. Even though I know everybody and have been going to same dispensary for a long time, they still require me to present my actual recommendation and drivers license every time I enter. Every year they verify that I have a current recommendation. I understand this dispensary was one of the first to obtain a business license and then a tax certificate after voters passed the marijuana tax. The operator has told me he pays the tax monthly, and that he doesn't understand why he isn't allowed to make a profit. The staff tell me they are volunteers and are not paid. I understand they grow their own, but I don't know where. The labels refer to prop 215 and SB420, advise users not to operate heavy equipment, drive, or use alcohol when using cannabis. It is provided pre-weighed. It is always provided in a stapled bag, with the advice that an unstapled bag could be considered an open container in a vehicle. Michael, you get too much joy from the TOTAL asset forfeiture of three businesses. Are you getting a cut?
bbkong October 09, 2012 at 06:53 AM
Wasn't that a clever ad hominem.
Michael Larsen October 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Ahh yes- West Hollywood. Well, John, Eagle Rock is not in West Hollywood, it's in LA which has no regulation, rules, enforcement, accountability or oversight on pot stores.
Cienmarcos Geraldo October 09, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Make it as legal and regulated or un-regulated and taxed as a can of beer. - Gary
Christopher Thom October 09, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I'm confused. How can anyone tell whether or not one is a recreational or medical user just by looking at them? The Council had no clue one of their own is a medical user until a couple weeks ago.
sila October 09, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Anyone who drinks alcohol in any way, or smokes cigarettes, or takes pharmaceutical anti depressants- should all shut the *explicit* up. All those do real damage to the body and are more addictive than marijuana. Legality is irrelevant. Laws are man made, and man is an *explicit* moron.
Diablo October 09, 2012 at 05:41 PM
You cannot tell a recreational user from a "real" patient. One can only speculate/prejudge based on things like physical appearance and levels of thuggyness. I had lower back surgery two years ago, and use mmj instead of my 'real' doctors' recommendation of vicodin/norco/percoset. But how would you know that by looking at me? I still look like a stoner.
Diablo October 09, 2012 at 05:46 PM
No, but a misanthropic anthropoid can defecate on his fellow carbon-based life form with his scathing comments...
John October 09, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Michael - it is a good thing LA has no laws or regulations regarding marijuana. Now the feds should completely eliminate all marijuana laws, regulations, statutes, codes, treaties and schedules. The Sherrif was visiting a dispensary in LA City Limits, one you probably have visited, but which hasn't even gotten a letter from the city attorney through all this. They were advised to stay open. I have talked to LAPD outside a dispensary and they told me the only time they go in is when there is a burglary - which isn't too often. The cop told me he was going to get a doctor recommendation, and that too many people smoke pot for the police to bother with enforcement. LAPD doesn't deal with day to day marijuana calls unless somebody gets hurt. They have murders, robberies, fights and accidents to deal with. Again, Michael, if your real issue is litter, not violating the civil rights of your neighbors, don't you think punishing people who are not putting the litter in front of your house is overkill? You were able to get three businesses closed, get the owners to forfeit all their assets - each will probably forfeit $30,000 to $100,000, possibly their homes, cars, and life savings, & $20,000 to $100,000 in legal fees if they fight it. A big fine for litter. Plus, several hundred patients will have to find a new dispensary. I have a real problem with that. Michael, pleae use your talent to find a solution that doesn't hurt anyone.
mark October 09, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Ok first of all angled street parking on colorado, and some extra trash cans, might just take care of complaints of parking in the neighborhoods and littering. My point being that maybe it would be better/easier to address the symptoms of MMJ rather than tackle the whole right/wrong issue. Who couldn't use more parking and less litter. I mean some people obviously feel that smoking marijuana is fine and presents no moral problem. Other people clearly feel that it is evil and should be outlawed and banished from our neighborhood. Personally I'd like to see it legalized and taxed and have the whole "medical" part just taken out of the equation. However I can see how somebody like Michael objects to ER becoming one big dispensary. Heck I don't want to live in "that neighborhood" where every stoner goes to get their weed. Plus if we are going to discuss real medical dangers and health effects.... we really need to address fast food, which also is responsible for way more litter than MMJ. Maybe if we are concerned about people's health we should try to limit the size of sodas like NYC.
bbkong October 09, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Hi Mark. I agree with you about the "medical" aspect of weed. A lot of Americans do, about 57% last I checked, and it's making it's way through the courts and state legislatures as we speak. It will happen eventually because we can't just put everyone who enjoys it in jail. Angled parking on Colorado probably won't fly. If you go up to the car wash around the crush hour you can count the number of cars that turn left up to Hill Drive off Wilson. It would surprise you. Impeding traffic down on the Blvd would just increase that flow, so I wouldn't bet on it happening. People who litter will throw there trash on the ground no matter how many trashcans you put out. Trashy people do trashy things. Finally, limiting the size of sodas and other laws like it are nanny state issues. People who want a large soda will just get two. And probably throw the cups on the ground. hehe The best way to fight back on fast foods is to not support them. Eating right actually makes you feel better.
Rob Schraff October 10, 2012 at 02:41 AM
A better headline for this article might be: "Were California voters smart enough to legalize marijuana as medication, thwarting the Federal Government in the interests of liberty?" Of course, this would mean the "farce" is people like Huizar, Larsen and Trutanich and their tired old reefer madness rants. Also amusing to see the New York Times is just as confused as newbie Michael Larsen as to the location of Eagle Rock.
Rob Schraff October 10, 2012 at 02:48 AM
So why did the council repeal their ban, Mr. Larsen? Maybe because they don't want to have a real election (with their offices and $190K salaries on the line)? I think we can conclude that 50,000 signatures and a citywide election are real democracy, not the corrupt joke that the neighborhood council system has become over the last years. But with any luck, the controversy will draw more than 50 (that's right, fifty) or so voters (truly pathetic, and hardly democratic, Mr. Larsen) to the next ERNC election.
Rob Schraff October 10, 2012 at 03:05 AM
@Micahel Larsen - In the long run, the Feds also aren't going to get the job done. Then who will you go tattle and whine to?


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