Pubdate: Thu, 23 Dec 2010
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2010 The Record


Medical marijuana debate in Stockton isn't about the drug

Stockton is a latecomer to medical marijuana.

The Bay Area, greater Los Angeles and even Sacramento are packed with
medical marijuana dispensaries, while Stockton is just figuring out
its policies and guidelines.

But there's no question that the scent wafting through the air is not
marijuana smoke but the unmistakable smell of money.

It's unfortunate that The Record had to file a California public
records request to pry from city officials the identities of those who
applied - and passed a city-concocted test - to run one of the three
Stockton medical marijuana outlets allowed under a new ordinance.

Among the names revealed:

- - Developers Anthony and Edward Barkett, who would provide financing
and space in their shopping center and are receiving a boost in the
form of a letter of recommendation from Caleb Counts, a huge medical
marijuana lobbyist.

- - Bruce Davies, co-owner of Le Bistro restaurant and a Stockton
Realtor. His application includes a letter of recommendation from
former State Sen. Michael Machado.

- - Stockton attorneys Douglas Rishwain and J.T. Rishwain, who would
serve as dispensary landlords.

- - Former Deputy City Attorney Lori Whittaker, who claims her medical
marijuana application played a role in her recent dismissal.

- - Other applicants include prominent businesspeople from Lodi and

In summary, these are not your stereotypical bandanna-wearing hippies
who are seeking to light the first blunt of what is sure to become a
booming local issue.

It's a matter of time before a Proposition 19-like initiative passes
in California. Proposition 19, which would have legalized recreational
marijuana use in the state, failed in the November election. But
there's little question similar ballot measures will be proposed.

As Stockton moves forward, it's important for the city to be upfront
about what's at stake here.

Yes, the issue in question is marijuana for medicinal purposes. There
are a great number of people whose pain and suffering can be eased.

However, the new 2.5 percent medical marijuana tax certainly can't
hurt a city teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

So let's face it: This really is all about money - for the prospective
dispensary owners and for the city. While the word "medical" is part
of the issue, we doubt anyone will be stepping up to take the
Hippocratic oath.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt