Jul 19 2009

Medical marijuana and pizza

Posted by J. Craig Canada in distribution, Examiner.com
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In this May 20, 2009 photo, Erick Alvaro, left, delivers medical marijuana from The Green Door dispensary to a man who wished be identified only as David, at his home in San Francisco.

It’s a $102 credit card transaction carried out with the practiced efficiency of a home-delivered pizza – and with just about as much legal scrutiny.

The Associated Press published an article yesterday titled California sprouts marijuana ‘green rush’.  At this writing Google shows it has been picked up by 308 news agencies. It is evidently based on the spate of articles recently about medical marijuana delivery services in San Francisco and Los Angeles.  I published an article concerning one of these services recently.

The Associated Press article appears to be taking aim at medical marijuana using The Green Door as a scapegoat.

In the 3rd paragraph the article states:  “It’s a $102 credit card transaction carried out with the practiced efficiency of a home-delivered pizza – and with just about as much legal scrutiny.”

When’s the last time you had to get a doctor’s recommendation to order pizza? When’s the last time you had to present an ID card to the pizza deliverer?  Who ever heard of a state law making it illegal to have more than 6 pizzas in the oven and 12 in the refrigerator?  Who ever heard of anyone being arrested for having more than eight ounces of pizza?

What city in this country bans pizza stands in commercial areas, or within 1000 feet of a school, playground, youth center, or anywhere else children might be?  Where can you go to jail for eating pizza in public?  When was the last time you were subjected to an airport search to enter a pizza joint?  And had to leave your cell-phone and any other recording equipment at the front door?  And were prohibited form using your cell-phone in the parking lot?

Please tell me what Pizza stand has to call up a doctor and verify every customer’s “right” to eat pizza.

Who ever had to pay $150 fine and/or and be brainwashed by an “anonymous” cult of government financed faith-healers and required to “admit they were powerless” and “turn their will and their lives over to a power greater than themselves” for possession of less than an ounce of pizza?

When’s the last time you heard of someone being evicted from low-income subsidized housing for eating pizza?  Or denied social services?

Who was ever accused of “abuse” for having one slice of pizza just one time in their whole sorry lives?

Deconstructing Dispensary Defamation

Further along in the article is found the following, which would appear to contradict Wohlsen and Leff’s opening contention that delivering medical marijuana has “just about as much legality” in California as delivering pizza.

Anyone can shop there, but to buy the cannabis-infused gelato, olive oil, soft drinks and other “edibles,” customers must show a doctor’s recommendation, have the information verified by the doctor’s office and obtain a patient identification number for future visits.

In order to operate as a “medical marijuana dispensary” in San Francisco, The Green Door must adhere to Section 3308 of the San Francisco Health and Safety Code.

Section “a” requires all dispensaries to comply with the California Attorney General’s guidelines issued in August 2008.

Section “b” requires medical marijuana dispensaries may only be operated as collectives or cooperatives, and that they have records available for every member.

Section “c” requires medical marijuana dispensaries must be not for profit, and that “Sale of medical cannabis to cover anything other than reasonable compensation and reasonable out-of-pocket expenses is explicitly prohibited. ”

Section “d” requires that all marijuana dispensed must be grown in California and not have left the state.

Section “e” prohibits operation after 10pm and before 8am, except for two dispensaries which may be open 24 hours and must be accessible by public transit and not within one mile of each other and not in a Small-Scale Neighborhood Commercial District, a Moderate Scale Neighborhood Commercial District, or a Neighborhood Commercial Shopping Center District.  If this seems arcane, perhaps studying Sections 711, 712, and 713 of the Planning Code will help.   Probably not.

Section “f” limits the size of the pizza to one ounce and the number of pizzas you can have in the refrigerator to 99, and the size of the oven to 100 square feet.

Section “g” states no authorized pizza consumer can eat pizza in public or within fifty feet of a pizza restaurant and that the penalty for doing so is $100.

Section “h” prohibits baking pizza outdoors.

Section “i” requires “sales” of pizza to occur at the pizza joint and all pizza deliverers must be registered with the state as either a pizza patient or a pizza patient caregiver, and have a state ID card.  If you feel like plowing through the state ID card regulations see California Health & Safety Code 11362.7-11362.83.

Section “j” prohibits pizza dispensaries from having a license from the California State Department of Beverage Control to sell or operate a business that sells alcohol.  Consumption of alcohol at the pizza joint is also prohibited as well as on the public right-of-way within 50 feet of the pizza joint.

Section “k” requires that if authorized pizza customers have a state identification card, the only identifying information the pizza joint may have of them is their State ID Card identification number.

Section “l” requires that the pizza joint shall provide litter removal twice a day on and in front of the pizza joint, as well as on the public sidewalk within 100 feet of the pizza joint.

Section “m” requires the pizza joint to provide “adequate security” on the premises.

Section “n” limits signage for the pizza joint to one ten-square-foot wall sign and one two-square-foot identifying sign.  It requires that all pizza joints state the following in type at least two inches high on every sign:  “Only individuals with legally recognized Pizza Identification Cards or a verifiable, written recommendation from a physician for pizza may obtain pizza from pizza dispensaries.”

Section “o” requires all print and electronic advertisements for pizza to include the warning:  “Only individuals with legally recognized Pizza Identification Cards or a verifiable, written recommendation from a physician for pizza may obtain pizza from medical pizza dispensaries.”  The text must be at least 2 inches in height, except for general advertising signs where it must be at least 6 inches in height.  All oral advertisements must contain the same warning.

Section “p” requires the pizza joint to provide the Director of the Department of Public Health and all neighbors within 50 feet of the pizza joint with the name, phone number, and fax number of “an on-site community relations staff person to whom one can provide notice if there are operating problems associated with the establishment.”

Section “q” requires that the pizza joint can only buy pizza from members of the pizza collective or cooperative, and only sell to members of the pizza collective or cooperative.

Section “r” requires that pizza joints can only sell or dispense pizza to those members with a county ID card or a verified written recommendation from a doctor.

Section “s” requires all employees of the pizza joint to be at least 18 years old.

Section “t” prohibits anyone that is under 18 and doesn’t have permission from a doctor to eat pizza from being in the pizza joint while it is open for business.

Section “u” requires medical marijuana dispensaries to comply with California Health & Safety Codes 11364.5 and 11364.7 regarding the sales and display of paraphernalia.

Section “v” stipulates all scales and weighing devices used by medical marijuana dispensaries are subject to inspection and certification by the Director.

Section “w” requires that medical marijuana dispensaries that sell cannabis edibles are subject to all state and local laws regarding the preparation, distribution, and sale of food.

Section “x” requires the medical marijuana dispensary to meet any specific and additional requirements that may be imposed at the discretion of the Director.

Section “y” requires medical marijuana dispensaries to be wheel-chair accessible and provide elevators and bathrooms, unless the dispensary is strictly a delivery service.

Section “z”  exempts dispensaries in “landmark buildings” from the requirements of the section “y”, until 2008.

Section “aa” requires medical marijuana dispensary applicants to submit an application to The Mayor’s Office on  Disability, who will forward recommendations to the Department of Building Inspection.

There are twelve more sections in Chapter 33 of the San Francisco Health and Safety code regarding dispensaries, many of them as long and tedious as the above.  And then there’s sections 11362.7-11362.83 of the California Health & Safety Code.  And then there’s the State Attorney General’s Guidelines.

Justin Hartfield, a 25-year-old Web designer and business student, founded WeedMaps.com, where pot clubs and doctors who write medi-pot recommendations list their services and users post reviews. Hartfield says the site has brought in nearly $250,000 in its first year.

Hartfield exhibited at THC Expo, a two-day trade show at the Los Angeles Convention Center that attracted an estimated 35,000 attendees in June. There was hydroponic gardening equipment and bong vendors and bikini-clad models wearing leis made of fake marijuana leaves.

Like just about everyone else connected to the cannabis trade, Hartfield has a letter from a doctor that entitles him to buy medical marijuana from a dispensary. But he sees no point in pretending he is treating anything more than his taste for smoking weed.

“It is a joke. It’s a legal way for me to get what I used to get on the street,” he said.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

The point of the article appears to be that medical marijuana is a joke, but there’s gold in them thar buds so it might as well be legal.  For many cannabis is the difference between life and living death, or even death itself.  For them it is no laughing matter.

For more info:
California sprouts marijuana ‘green rush’ – The Associated Press | 18 Jul 09
San Francisco Health Code Section 3308 – City and County of San Francisco
Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program – San Francisco Department of Public Health
California Health & Safety Code 11362.7-11362.83 – palmspringsbum
California Attorney General’s Guidelines – Edmund G. Brown | Aug 2008
California Medical Marijuana Program – California Department of Public Health
The Green Door

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