Pubdate: Tue, 21 Apr 2009
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2009 San Francisco Examiner
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Whatever anyone might think of legalizing medical marijuana or 
decriminalizing it entirely -- and California voters have pretty much 
shown where they stand -- the proposal to put City Hall in the 
medical marijuana business should be rejected.

Especially while San Francisco struggles to balance a crushing $438 
million deficit, it makes no sense to start a new program for solving 
a nonexistent problem.

No well-informed person would believe it's actually difficult for Bay 
Area residents with legitimate -- or not so legitimate -- medical 
marijuana needs to conveniently obtain their drug in San Francisco.

There is no shortage of local physicians openly advertising their 
willingness to sign a medical marijuana eligibility letter for any 
trumped-up claim -- nervousness, digestive upsets, chronic backache, 
etc. -- in exchange for $200 or so. If The City ever really 
distributes medical marijuana at Department of Public Health clinics, 
many patients would be coming in with bogus paperwork from prescription mills.

And if city-run clinics insisted on applying stricter standards to 
their pot recipients, they might easily find themselves wasting 
scarce health funds on fighting lawsuits from rejected patients.

Some arguments on why San Francisco would benefit from moving 
directly into cannabis retailing do not make sense, while other 
reasons specifically contradict each other.

The main goal is apparently to provide low-income San Franciscans 
with inexpensive or free medical marijuana at city facilities. Yet, 
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who authored the proposal, claims the 
program would be "cost-neutral" because of profits.

Another alleged major benefit would be to "alleviate the burden on 
neighborhoods." There is no denying that some shadier medical 
marijuana dispensaries have been neighborhood nuisances.

But surely there are less costly and provocative ways to clean up or 
close abusive clubs.

Consistently tougher enforcement of zoning restrictions would do it, 
or ordinances could be strengthened to give aggrieved neighbors 
better fighting tools.

Mirkarimi wants the city attorney to draft a detailed measure for 
supervisors to vote on this summer.

Among the many questions to be answered: Who would supply The City's 
medical marijuana?

If underground pot-growers had to follow standard San Francisco 
vendor rules, they might be expected to submit written bids, provide 
health care for employees and their domestic partners, preferably 
have minority or female ownership, and not do business with dictatorships.

The Examiner recognizes Mirkarimi as a generally effective 
supervisor, although we disagree with him on numerous issues.

His 2005 legislation regulating medical marijuana outlets brought the 
first oversight to The City's clubs and shut down more than a dozen 
questionable operations. But this latest brainstorm just opens the 
door to worse problems than it fixes.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom