Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jun 2010
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2010 The Orange County Register
Author: David Whiting
Cited: Orange County NORML
Cited: The State Referendum
Referenced: Attorney General Jerry Brown's guidelines
Referenced: Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It
Bookmark: (NORML)


Sitting across the table, at a Starbucks in San Clemente, Kandice 
Hawes is all business in black Capri pants, a fashionable top and a 
demure gray sweater.

"Of course I smoke pot," she says in a loud voice that expresses both 
surprise and amusement at the question.

Holy smoke! I look around, worried someone might hear. After all, I 
lived through Nancy Reagan's America when smoking marijuana was 
pretty much the same as shooting heroin, when all drugs were lumped 
together under the "Just Say No" campaign.

But Hawes, 28, is a generation younger. She came of age after 1996, 
when California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate 
Use Act allowing medical marijuana.

"Why do you smoke?" I ask instinctively, immediately feeling like an 
old fart and remembering there are plenty of other ways nowadays to, 
um, get high.

But Hawes is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of person. She's not 
parsing words or worrying about the difference between smoking, 
ingesting, spraying or vaping inhaling fumes from a vaporizer.

"Depression and insomnia," Hawes says, honest as the summer day is long.

Few if anyone of my generation would admit to such things in private, 
let alone in the middle of a cafe.

But Hawes isn't just any twentysomething. She is founder and 
president of the Orange County chapter for a 40-year old organization 
called NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

With cities closing medical marijuana dispensaries, and debate still 
raging like reefer madness, why would anyone take such a public stand?

Born in Orange County, Hawes was a 21-year-old full-time student at 
Cal State Fullerton in 2003 when she and some friends decided they 
needed a break and headed for Las Vegas.

Downtown, the driver made a bad turn. The police pulled them over and 
looked in Hawes' purse. Inside, was a baggie of marijuana.

Hawes spent a couple of days in jail before she was processed out. 
But the rap sparked two changes for Hawes her federal student aid was 
over, and she discovered she was a crusader.

Hawes flew herself to Washington, D.C. to try and convince Congress 
to modify the federal government's zero tolerance stance regarding 
pot busts and student loans. She soon founded the Orange County 
chapter for NORML. She also took a job in a nondescript one-story 
gray building near the 5 Freeway in Lake Forest.

Four rooms made up the offices of Dr. Robert E. Sullivan and Dr. 
Philip A. Denney Hawes' employers who owned the first medical 
marijuana clinic in Orange County and, in 2003, the only such place 
within 200 miles. The work was controversial, but there were no 
battles with municipalities as there are today. But later the doctors 
sold the business, dispensaries mushroomed and, after six years, Hawes left.

Even 14 years after Prop. 215, I still can't quite get my mind around 
the idea that actual stores sell actual weed. What was it like to 
work inside a pot shop?

"Collectives," Hawes says, gently making her point clear that 
dispensaries at least in theory are nonprofit outfits collectively 
operated. And clinics like the one where Hawes worked don't sell pot, 
they issue prescriptions.

OK, what are the clinics like?

They vary, Hawes reports. Most are straightforward, run by physicians 
who believe what many studies say that cannabis can dramatically 
reduce nausea and pain, and help with other maladies such as insomnia 
and depression.

Other clinics, especially ones with bargain rates, sound more like 
the high school kid in the hallway selling fake I.D.'s for the right price.

Since leaving the clinic, Hawes has lived on savings and stayed busy 
with NORML.

Well organized, Hawes comes to our interview armed with an array of 
literature. She hands me her red, white and blue business card, an 
86-page booklet on cannabis as medicine, a 12-page hand-out on 
Attorney General Jerry Brown's guidelines for pot dispensaries, a 
leaflet describing her local NORML chapter, and two colorful fliers 
on NORML projects and upcoming rallies.

The pile is evidence of Hawes' busy schedule. She speaks at dozens of 
city council meetings, helps produce a public access television show 
every Thursday, works Fridays at NORML's chapter office in Fullerton, 
heads up monthly meetings, organizes rallies and meets one-on-one 
with various officials and others.

She even stays on point with her voice mail greeting, the one 
inviting people to the Aug. 28 Know Your Rights Expo at the Anaheim 
Convention Center.

Just back from a national NORML conference in Colorado, Hawes also is 
helping NORML educate people about the state referendum on the fall 
ballot calling for the legalization of marijuana.

How much lobbying is really necessary for something as simple as weed?

Hawes emerged recently from a meeting at Costa Mesa City Hall and saw 
that she had several phone messages. They told her that police had 
just raided a dispensary in Costa Mesa.

Our discussion circles back to the potheads, the customers at the clinics.

"The patients," Hawes clarifies, before adding:

"(They) are a real cross section. Most are over 30. Some are elderly. 
And the younger ones were some of the sickest people we had."

I'm reminded of my daughter's friend who graduated college last year. 
A lean 23-year-old, he was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer just 
before Christmas. Today, he looks like a beefy bald dude with scars. 
As he tries to wean himself off bloating steroids, the only thing 
that makes the pain bearable is cannabis.

"Best job in the world," Hawes concludes of working at a clinic.

As we part, I ask what she's reading. It's a book by retired Orange 
County Superior Court Judge James Gray.

"Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake