Tempers Flare in Kent, WA over MMJ Dispensary Ban
The city council in Kent, Washington voted Tuesday night by a vote of 4 to 3 to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. The vote angered many medical cannabis supporters, like Michael Ranetta, who has Multiple Sclerosis. "Please don't take away the medical marijuana. We need it, it's safe and we don't want to die on pain pill narcotics."
In fact, more than 150 medical marijuana supporters packed the city council chamber to decry the decision. One man said, "All these dispensaries have helped many of us stay out of jail, because we have a place to go." But it was to no avail.
The Cannabis Action Coalition served Kent’s mayor with a lawsuit, saying the city council’s action were illegal. "State law is very clear on what they can and cannot do, and they voted to violate that law and we'll take them into state court and we'll stop them," said the coalition's Steve Sarich.
Medical cannabis opponents try to build an aura of stigma around medical marijuana dispensaries like they are businesses of ill repute. Undoubtedly some are, but so are some bars and corner stores. Businesses should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, not banned outright. If a pharmacist at a local pharmacy is caught selling pills on the side, are all the pharmacies in the city shut down?
While medical marijuana activists battle for rights for patients, they must also be aware of how opponents try to turn public opinion against full and safe access. Marijuana still suffers from what, in current terms, could be called “bad PR.” Decades of propaganda is hard to overcome and we must strive every day to fight the lies and half-truths of those who profit from prohibition.
Our momentum is undeniable, but it only exists through hard work.
Surge in Crime at Denver Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?
New statistics from the Denver, Colorado police department show a 69% increase in crime at medical marijuana dispensaries in the city since last year, with a 75% increase in burglaries.
Reports say that there are about 400 medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver now, but the police statistics don’t say how many dispensaries there were last year. In other words, if the number of dispensaries is up by 69% as well, then crime isn’t up at all. If the increase in dispensaries is less than 69% then crime went up, and so forth.
As with any business with a valuable product, medical marijuana dispensaries are targets for thieves. And these places, which include banks and all manner of stores with valuables and cash on hand, become bigger targets as the economy fails to rebound.
Other factors are involved as well, like location and how much of a police presence there is in the area.
One incident in particular has people “worried” and that’s a murder of a medical marijuana caregiver that occurred last month. Richard Nack was shot in killed in his home on May 26th in an apparent robbery. Friends say not many people knew he grew medical marijuana, and it’s a stretch to blame medical cannabis for his death.
Anyone with something valuable at their home is a target of robbery and violence if someone else finds out they have it. This is just as true of someone with a rare coin collection or someone who doesn’t trust banks and keeps a safe at home. Was Richard Nack wrong for helping people? Or was he an innocent victim?
Some want to use the “medical marijuana attracts crime” argument as an excuse to restrict access for patients. Under their logic all banks, liquor stores and 7-11’s should be moved to vacant industrial areas.
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Don't Boost Local Crime
Rhode Island MMJ Dispensaries Could Be Open By Fall
This weekend the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a revised medical marijuana bill in an attempt to have three compassion centers open by the fall. They have been working on the new rules feverishly for quite a while now (http://www.thcfinder.com/marijuana-blog/medical-marijuana/2012/05/rhode-island-lawmakers-working-on-new-rules-for-medical-marijuana).
After a delay of a few years, patients in Rhode Island may soon have a place to purchase their medicine. Medical marijuana was legalized in the state in 2006.
Under the new bill each of the three dispensaries would be able to keep up to 1,500 ounces – or a little less than 100 pounds – on hand at any one time. There are about 4,400 legal patients in the state.
The bill now goes to Governor Lincoln Chafee, who has said he’ll sign it. Some may remember that Chafee is the one who halted the dispensary program last year after threats from the federal government.
The new bill also provides oversight of the dispensaries by law enforcement, including a seat on the board of each center.
Time will tell whether these new rules for dispensaries will keep the federal government – which already has shown no regard for state regulations of medical marijuana, no matter how strict - from stepping in and imposing its will on the state.
Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the U.S. but patients in every state deserve full access to their choice of medicine. And until all medical cannabis users have full, legal access to their meds, no MMJ patient is truly free.
The time has long passed when medical marijuana patients should have stopped being treated like second-class citizens. Alcoholics can by liquor most hours of the day, but medical marijuana patients shouldn’t be allowed to purchase their choice of a non-toxic herbal medicine?
Someday every state will have medical marijuana and these days will just be something kids read about. But we were there. We saw how medical cannabis patients were treated.
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