Due to California law, medical cannabis dispensaries (I think that’s the correct phrase) are springing up all over the place. There is, of course, quite a bit of argument still over these little storefront operations, with some people angrily declaring NIMN (Not In My Neighborhood), and others simply seeing it as another legitimate and tax-paying business. Also — as I recently discovered — you are required by law to have an official prescription card in order to enter one.
I may be the last “square” in the country that hasn’t smoked pot, but regardless, I’ve always thought criminalization of marijuana was a moronic idea. The plant is incredibly useful and flexible: it is environmentally friendly and grows very quickly without requiring extra care or nutrients, and can be used to make bio-degradable paper, incredibly long-lasting cloth, sturdy rope and burlap, a very flexible type of oilseed with uses ranging from medicinal to dietary supplements, birdseed and fishing bait, fuel and mulch, a wide variety of non-allergenic foods, light construction work, weed control, and biodegradable plastics used in car panels.
However, if you take a glance at the history of the criminalization effort, you’ll find it’s yet another case of corporate greed triumphing over common sense. Check out the wikipedia entry on “hemp” for more information on how fantastic a plant hemp is, and check out Peter McWilliams’ fascinating book “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country” for the chapter on how (and the stupid reasons why) hemp became criminalized.
That’s not the reason I’m writing this posting, however. I write because I am bemused, and for two reasons. First, I unwittingly walked into one of the medical cannabis dispensaries, since it was a new business near where I live, and I wondered what was being sold there. I was surprised at the cold and almost furtive demeanor of those there — they made it quite clear I was not welcome.
I was left wondering: if these businesses want to be seen as legitimate members of a neighborhood (and I have been informed they do indeed wish this), then why act so guilty? Why behave so shabbily to casual visitors? I quite understand their not being able to allow entry of non-card-carrying individuals, and I certainly don’t expect them to invite me in for tea and crumpets and dancing boys. However, it seems to me a friendly and slightly apologetic demeanor, while explaining why a visitor cannot stay, would have gone a long way to defusing any potential resentment at having been shown the door. Surely that is just common sense in any business that wants to be welcome in the neighborhood?
Secondly, and more flippantly: how many of these dispensaries do we need?! I can spot them easily, now I know what to look for. It’s startling: within half a mile from my house and in only one direction, I’ve counted four of the peculiar things! Three of them are geographically separated by less than 500 feet between each one! It makes me wonder: is there that profound a need for medical marijuana?!
I should find someone with a card and talk to them, I suppose. Anyone volunteering to chat with me on the subject? :)