Living in Los Angeles, you can’t spit without hitting a “medical” marijuana clinic, which are now more common that Starbuck’s. It has been interesting to see these so-called clinics sprouting up like weeds (pun intended), and not being a pot smoker myself I kinda wanted to know more. Particularly why I have never seen anybody that looks like a terminal cancer or glaucoma patient hanging around out front. Are the clinics good/bad? Is there any crime involved? Why do they exist?
Medically speaking, marijuana has moderate analgesic properties; it neither prevents nor cures anything, so people take it to, big shocker, GET HIGH! Like medicinal alcohol, medicinal cocaine, and medicinal heroin before it, medical marijuana is administered to help manage pain by getting the patient fucked up enough to not care that they have rolled their ankle. This has been the case for thousands of years and medical marijuana is no different. That is of course, providing that a majority of people that visit these clinics have any legitimate claim to any medication whatsoever.
Looking to get some first hand info on this I walked about a quarter block down the street and asked the first “patient” I saw standing out in front of the clinic, some guy named Jose, what he was here for. Well, at first glance Jose did indeed look pretty damn ill; designer jeans, Air Force One’s, baggy Crooks & Castles shirt, and the ubiquitous flat-brimmed L.A. Dodgers hat, all indicative of a man with one foot in the grave. Jose was here for his asthma. Yep. Cedars Sinai is doling out a carcinogen worse than cigarettes to help this poor bastard deal with his fucking asthma. This seemed ridiculous. Another guy said he was here for his back. Hmmmmm, ok. Well where are the cancer patients? The geriatrics?
A few days later the subject of medical marijuana clinics came up in a conversation I was having with a friend of mine on the LAPD. What she told me was that these clinics are just hotspots for robberies and nothing more. They get shut down almost as quickly as the sprout up and they are getting robbed constantly. As with drug dealing, it’s not necessarily the product that causes the harm, but the crime and violence that surrounds it. She also had never seen what seemed to be a legitimate patient at any of these clinics; the crowd always looked more like a Phish concert than a waiting room at a hospital.
But I was a bit confused. Why would there be crime at these clinics? I thought they were legal? Well, the clinics are legal, but the product is not. Through sketchy legislation there is now semi-legit drug dealing going on on almost every street corner in every major city California with all the attendant crime that the war on drugs was supposed to be squashing. Now the government gets to benefit on both ends! The government can tax the clinics, then pay their employees (who are paid by the tax payers, and hence “justify” the raising of taxes) to deal with the crimes surrounding them. Clinic goes up, clinic gets shut down and the money keeps on flowing. But what about the patients?! Who’s looking out for them? Well, of course, no one is because these clinics are a load of crap. People seeking legitimate medication need to go to the hospital, not a head shop.
While I certainly have no love for stoners (I consider them the Jimmy Fallon of loadies: giggly, half-assed and boring) I do believe that every free adult living in the United States has the right to do whatever the hell he/she wants as long as they don’t hurt anyone else. As I mentioned earlier, alcohol, cocaine and heroin were all used as medicine, and derivatives of each still are to this day. American bureaucracy it would seem, is oblivious to the obvious, which would be to decriminalize all drugs and sell and tax them just like booze. The money can still be made, but now no one need get hurt. Why the charade people? The fact of the matter is that people have and will always use drugs, either medicinally or recreationally to some extent so waging a “war” on them is never going to work. If you’re going to go to one of these clinics you may as well go to a drug dealer on the street.
Seeming concessions on the part of the government like medical marijuana clinics are just exploiting the ignorant into thinking they are involved in a legitimate business exchange while giving criminals a venue to practice their trade. This isn’t progress on the part of the government. What on the surface seems to be a move towards a more permissive, socially liberal establishment is just another way to turn a buck. Jose isn’t sick, he’s a pothead. Let him do his thing and pay his share via taxation. As for actual patients: again, go to the hospital and get your medication there! Legitimate medicine doesn’t come with a tie-died label of a caterpillar smoking a hookah and pharmacists don’t have graffix shirts and glass beads woven into their hair. These clinics are just another gold plated turd. Might look enticing on the outside, but just under the surface it’s pure shit.