By Robert Galia
As publishers we can’t sit on the sidelines of this issue. Like it or not, the legalization of medical marijuana is taking place. But here’s the problem I see that will affect each and every person in the community regardless of whether or not you use marijuana. Here’s the problem as we see it. Major players with big corporate money are trying to influence the laws to make it all but impossible for small families to grow their own. This is brought out in detail in my interview with Police Chief Malony.
We are all in this together, from the people who really need medical marijuana to law enforcement and the already overburdened court system. This is our community, so get involved, find out what’s going on, and take action. Be sure to read our interview with Chico Police Chief Mike Malony in this issue and you will see that there are many areas of this issue where there is common ground and that’s where we need to start.
Because of the suspected widespread abuse of Proposition 215, recently there has been an enormous political and legal backlash against cannabis patients and those who grow for them. Most of the complaints center around diversion to nonmedical use (black market), obnoxious garden odors, and the ease with which applicants can obtain the necessary recommendations to allow them to legally consume. Caught in the middle, in a catch-22, are the dispensary/collectives that are being systematically taken down by federal DAs riding this hysterical anticannabis wave. This is most unfortunate because the dispensary/collective is a vital component of Prop 215 and the one place where patients can always turn for safe access. In these turbulent, troubled times, our most important function, I believe, is our ability to serve as a focal point for medical cannabis activism. At the dispensary where I work we have a database of more than 6,000 patients, and we were able to mobilize them in our successful referendum petition drive to overturn an unacceptable Butte County growing ordinance. The same thing was done in San Diego County, and just the other day in Kern County. It seems that every time some county tries to push some kind of prohibitionist policy down our throats we just get stronger as loosely associated competitors unite in a solid front. This is exactly what we will need in this continuous struggle for the right to decide what medicine we will put in our bodies.
Before I get too far I should remind us all of the obvious: Cannabis is a medicine. By all rational and scientific reasoning, it is one of the safest medicines known to man, and that is why California voters and legislators (and those in 16 other states) have enacted laws protecting those who have chosen cannabis as their preferred medicine. This is also why our state attorney general created guidelines that give patients guaranteed safe access and give storefront collectives legal standing. Every day I get to hear patients telling us, with tears in their eyes, that their migraines are gone, their arthritis cured, their back pain relieved, their sleep improved. The list is endless. The people out there still in denial claiming that it’s all a lie, or a hoax, are deceiving themselves and you because they are either uninformed or have an agenda.
People are actually out there who think that someone caught with even a roach should be hung, or at least, put in prison for life, and then there are those who strongly believe that there should be absolutely no restrictions on the use of cannabis, that it can save humanity if we give it a chance. Why is it so difficult for these opposing viewpoints to meet somewhere in the middle? Why do we keep dragging innocent people through the court system and putting them in cages, at enormous taxpayer expense, for doing what, as biological organisms we are hard-wired to do, and that is reaching out for something that relieves our pain? This country is the “melting pot” of the world and we have always prided ourselves on tolerance of other lifestyles. When I think cannabis, I think “peace, love, and understanding, and compassion.” Why is it so difficult to “tolerate” those ideals?
Now that medical cannabis patients have, for the most part, secured their rights to safe access, we might want to focus now on preventing big corporations from dominating the industry, as I assure you they are poised to do. This would be disastrous as it will not only suck money out of local communities, but it also will lead to inferior service and inferior mass-produced products. We can all help by joining a local dispensary/collective and by writing letters to the editor, and by writing or calling our local government representatives. Please do so today and let your voice be heard.
Robert Galia isCEO of North Valley Holistic Health. (They are closed now but hopefully things will change)