Legalize, regulate and tax marijuana [Most commented]
Maybe medical marijuana dispensaries aren't crime magnets after all. That's the conclusion the Rand Corp. came up with after completing a study that found that crime rates went up in neighborhoods after nearby dispensaries were ordered to shut down.
The Times editorial board argues, however, that the study is inconclusive:
Does this mean that dispensaries decrease neighborhood crime rather than increasing it? Unfortunately, despite Rand's analysis, we still don't know the answer. There are so many obvious problems with Rand's study that it's impossible to come to solid conclusions about crime either way.
After pointing out that the study is based on "unwarranted assumption" and poking holes in the analysis, the board concludes:
Whether or not these rogue dispensaries attract crime, they are a nuisance. A lack of oversight means they could be selling anything, including marijuana laced with dangerous drugs or chemicals. California voters intended them to operate as nonprofit collectives, yet it's not clear they're all doing so. Also unclear is the extent to which they're selling to minors or people with no legitimate medical need. L.A. is right to try to crack down; now its lawyers just need to figure out a way of doing so that passes court muster.
Predictably, the "legalize it" crowd has come out en masse to rebut the editorial. Here are a few of the arguments they're making on our discussion board.
Dispensaries should operate under the same rules as a grocery store
The real issue is whether the operators who played by the rules and applied for licenses deserve to stay open. All the other "regulations" about location, hours of operation, and management are window dressing for the sake of trying to do something, with or without purpose.
The Times opinion reflects a bias toward regulation. I pose that we need less laws. Ronald Reagan fans and the Tea Party should unite to get all Marijuana laws off the books. Existing tax and DUI laws should suffice to cover any real issues. Why should marijuana businesses be taxed or licensed differently than grocery stores or pharmacies?
This is America, and as long as alcohol and tobacco are legal, all marijuana laws are arbitrary and hypocritical. As long as opiates and aspirin are available at pharmacies 24 hours a day, Medical Marijuana users are not getting fair and equal protection under the law. As long as fried chicken and Coca-Cola are legal, the health risks of marijuana are given disproportional unscientific weight in our laws and attitudes. People have the right to overeat, but the health and social consequences are enormous.
If the true mandate of local regulation is to benefit the community, then Medical Marijuana dispensaries should operate under the same rules as a grocery store.
Comparing dispensaries to liquor stores
The collectives may be a "nuisance" to that reporter but to many, the numerous drug liquor stores are the bigger nuisance! Drug stores and liquor stores are much more abundant and both attract more crime. Most of these family owned medical marijuana outlets are providing jobs, paying rent and taxes (full taxes, not getting any tax break for being a new corporate outlet) and helping people treat illnesses in a safe, non-toxic way. The medical studies about the benefits of cannabis are published almost daily, not that this slanted outlet reports on them. Wake up and educate ourselves as to what the real agenda is here -- prohibition plain and simple... not saving lives or preventing crime. If that were the case -- let's re-evaluate alcohol and the pharmaceutical impact on society! Those are actual addicting drugs and really kill people -- unlike cannabis.
Marijuana is safer than alcohol
I have lost my patience with the ignorant anti pot crowd and am now resorting to what I call my psychic 2x4 mode. I am going to continue verbally attacking them at every opportunity possible. Too many good people have been needlessly screwed because of their deeply flawed thinking. I will also offer rational reasoning to show them the light. We simply have too many real problems to deal with instead of perpetrating this social cannibalism for a drug that is infinitely safer than the legal drug alcohol.
Legalize marijuana, watch crime drop
It seems patently absurd to blame the storefronts for an increase in crime; on the contrary, because there is a demand, there is traffic engaged in legal commerce. This is good for us as a society, unless you are the police force, and then you start worrying about job security. Because if pot is wholly legalized-- and here the problem is the law not the dispensaries -- crime will drop.
If your business concern gives you the right to seize assets and have its owners forfeit their right to such highway robbery practices, you will have some business worries about legalization.
Prohibition is a racket perpetrated on the people through the collusion of police, prosecutors, prisons, prison gangs, politicians, ad nauseam to pretend that marijuana is a narcotic (it is not), and to maintain federal intervention in state laws (in violation of states' rights granted in the Bill of Rights) in order to seize legal assets owned by citizens who are guilty of nothing other than marijuana possession and or cultivation.
We have a Congress owned by drug companies. Our nightly news program is on those drugs, as well. And yet I find OxyContin and Vicodin more worrying drugs than marijuana and hash.
Prohibition did not work then, and it does not work now. Blaming the businesses that are trying to straighten out this mess is exactly wrong.
End the hysteria. Legalize the pot.
Legalize marijuana, watch the economy improve
"Don't bogart that joint, my friend, pass it over to me" C'mon, enough already, lift the prohibition supported by the alcohol distributors, and let marijuana find its way into America's capitalism mainstream.
*Spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.
Photo: A bicyclist rides past Zen Healing, a medical marijuana dispensary on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood on Oct 29, 2009. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times