Pubdate: Sun, 19 Jul 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Matthai Kuruvila
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Regulation)


At Coffeeshop Blue Sky on 17th Street in Oakland, patrons can buy 
lemon bars filled with 10 doses of cannabis hash with a 
recommendation from a doctor. Get there fast. The "edibles" here fly 
off the shelves.

Walk over to the Patient ID Center, and you can buy commercial 
machines that can trim the leaves off of cannabis quicker than you 
could do with scissors.

And over at Club Z, members of the underground club don't need 
prescriptions and are sampling the varieties of pot before they buy.

People may be debating legalizing marijuana in other parts of the 
state and nation. But here in the nine-block cannabis district of 
Oakland known as Oaksterdam, it's hard to argue that it's not here already.

"At this point, dude, seriously, let's just face the fact that 
everybody is smoking," said Jaime Galindo, who gave a reporter a tour 
of Club Z. "Bus drivers, cops - your grandma."

Measure F has no formal campaign opposition.

Oakland voters may take the city, the longtime epicenter of the 
cannabis legalization movement, to yet another threshold Tuesday. 
Measure F, one of four measures on a mail-only ballot due Tuesday, 
would establish a new 1.8 percent tax for "cannabis businesses" - 
believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

"We're moving toward being accepted like Budweiser beer," said 
Richard Lee, whom High Times magazine deemed in its February issue as 
"the mayor of Oaksterdam."

The tax, which Lee and other advocates sought, is imposed on the 
gross receipts from nearly every aspect of the cultivation, 
production or sale of marijuana and its derivatives - all of which 
happen in Oaksterdam.

The colonists of early America declared "no taxation without 
representation," but cannabis advocates want taxation to get representation.

And Measure F is a harbinger.

Polls show majorities of the state and nation favor legalization, and 
cannabis proponents are preparing a statewide legalization and 
taxation measure for the November 2010 ballot.

Oakland's measure is expected to generate only $294,000 annually - a 
meager sum for the city of Oakland's $414 million budget. But the 
state Board of Equalization estimated last week that the state would 
take in $1.4 billion if a cannabis legalization bill introduced by 
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, were to pass.

There are also other motivations.

In Oaksterdam, non-cannabis businesses say the cannabis businesses 
help their bottom line.

"The traffic that it brings to the neighborhood is great," said 
Gertha Hays, owner of A Diva's Closet, a women's clothing store.

Brandon Anderson drove from Martinez to buy a sixteenth of an ounce 
for $22 and a $10 hash chocolate candy from Coffeeshop Blue Sky. (He 
passed on the cannabis-laden cookies, brownies, lollipops, pesto, 
peanut butter and jelly.)Anderson, who has a prescription for anxiety 
and pain relief, said he'd be happy to pay the tax, he said, because 
"it's a way to give back to the community and generate money."

Local and state politicians have hardly held back on their views. Lee 
showed a letter in his office from Don Perata, the former state 
senate majority leader, who is now running for mayor of Oakland.

"Sooner or later," Perata wrote in blue ink on the letter, "we'll get 

In Insight: Oakland's evolution from pariah to pioneer on medical marijuana. E2

Pot, by the numbers

Percent of Californians who support legalization and taxation of marijuana: 56

Percent of Americans who support legalization of marijuana: 52

Amount taxation of marijuana might bring in to the state: $1.4 billion

Amount Measure F would bring in revenues to the city of Oakland: $294,000

Sources, in order: Field Poll, Zogby Poll, state Board of 
Equalization, Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom