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Today, Sunday June 9, 2013, is a day of mourning for medical marijuana patients in Orange County. Today is a day that our voice as California citizens is silenced. A day that has been whispered about and will not soon be forgotten. On this day, the MMJ collective at which I provide quality medicine to patients of all cultures and backgrounds, will be legally tending its last buds.
Orange County has been feeling the marijuana crackdown since 2010-2011 when several shutdowns, raids and property seizures occurred leaving South County and Costa Mesa, areas that were once stoner friendly cities, devoid of all collectives. Santa Ana, Garden Grove, and Anaheim became the only cities in Orange County that were still rich with medical marijuana collectives.
As to be expected in this topsy-turvy governmental structure, Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Anaheim were eventually targeted. Each collective was hand delivered a letter stating that all MMJ storefronts must be closed down voluntarily or else will be fined, seized and/or raided by the DEA and local authorities. Many shut down, too afraid and not invested enough to risk a raid. Others crumpled that letter, threw it in the wastebasket, and carried on with their business as usual.
We were one of the others who threw caution to the wind, or rather letters in the bin, remaining open. Having been successfully operating for almost 5 years, this clinic runs a tight ship which is the reason for its longevity. The final day of reckoning was scheduled as June 9. If we do not close today, every day we remain open is illegal and the volunteers risk being hassled by the fuzz.
Just like the old Prohibition days between 1920-1933, we must become a speakeasy, only allowing select VIPs (Very Important Patients) with a special card and ID number assigned by us, to enter. This means we are accepting no new patients and even turning away most current patients. All day, my normal array of smiling faces has turned to expressions of concern and anguish as many members are disheartened by the idea of losing their right to medicate, a legislation that Californians fairly voted on.
Though these California medical marijuana legislations have been around for over 15 years, it is still an evolving concept that will remain flawed until it is completely decriminalized. The Federal Government grants states their sovereignty to run based on the votes of their people. These votes, however, are futile as the Feds will always subjugate state law. California voters have, numerous times, chosen to legalize the use of medical cannabis. Why then are we still taking one step forward and two steps back?
In this case, it is actually the cities that are making these decisions. Many non-stoner residents claim that the medical marijuana dispensaries have “gotten out of hand.” State Council meetings have been overflowing with heartbroken patients whose rights were stripped away from them. Of course, the reform of the MMJ legislation is nowhere on the agenda. Mary Lochen addressed the council stating that “I’m coming out of the closet as a medical marijuana patient. You see, there are a whole lot of us that are invisible to you.” How much longer must we be invisible?
I do not know what my future holds with this collective, but I do know that I will remain steadfastly by its side. Volunteering here gives me purpose, satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment. This is a sentiment I have never felt anywhere else. Seeing a patient in excruciating pain return with a smile, telling me that my suggestion improved his or her quality of life, is the most precious reward. If this ship goes down, I am proudly going down with it, only because I know that even if we sink all the way to the bottom, we will find our way back to the surface and feel the warm sunshine once again. Long live Mary Jane.
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