Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Booming Medical Pot Sales Concern Officials

LOS ANGELES — Almost 13 years after California became the first state to allow the sale of marijuana for some medical conditions storefront purveyors of the drug are nearly as easy to find as a taco stand.

Yet police and prosecutors say the law is vague on who can sell pot and in what circumstances. They worry that the state unwittingly created safe havens for drug pushers who are doping the population with immunity.

"They appear to be run by drug dealers who see an opening in the market and a way to make a fast buck," says San Diego district attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who says every pot store her office has looked at is operating illegally.

The tangle of regulations and alleged criminality that has followed in the aftermath of California's first in the nation medical marijuana law is hardly restricted to the Golden State.

Thirteen states, from New England to the Pacific Northwest, have passed laws by ballot or legislative action permitting marijuana possession for some medical reasons even though the drug is illegal under federal law.

Some, like Rhode Island, where a medical marijuana law passed in 2006, officials are still trying to figure out how to set up places where people can buy the drug. In Colorado, which approved medical marijuana sales in 2000, cities are passing moratoriums to halt the blossoming of marijuana stores. New Mexico's lone non-profit licensed to distribute pot is overwhelmed by demand.

In Washington state, a legal dispute rages over whether the law permits people to just grow their own pot or also buy it from dispensaries.

Stewart Richlin, lawyer for more than 150 medical marijuana collectives in Southern California, says states that legalize medical marijuana must accept the commerce that follows.

"Once we acknowledge patients have a right to cannabis, they have to get it somewhere," he says.

The medical marijuana movement was begun by advocates who say pot can provide relief for a wide range of illnesses, from AIDS to arthritis. Why should people suffer when pot can help, they say?

"It's highly effective in certain circumstances," San Diego physician Bob Blake says.

Critics say a law meant to benefit a relatively few number of patients is being exploited by entrepreneurs who are making big money.

Los Angeles Police Lt. Paul Torrence says the department investigated a clinic in the fashionable Venice area that was doing up to $140,000 in sales a month. In San Diego, where authorities this month shut down 14 medical marijuana sellers, Dumanis said at least one was operating on that scale as well, over $700,000 in six months.

City Council members Janice Hahn and Dennis Zine, in proposing Los Angeles tax medical marijuana sales, point to Oakland, where they say four licensed dispensaries had gross sales of $19.6 million in 2008.


Blog Notes: Apparently, this is a bigger business than anyone really anticipated. With these kinds of sales, it is obvious that this industry is on the verge of exploding. Medical Marijuana, Inc. is providing solutions for both the government and the dispensary owner. Their Tax Remittance Card, allows the taxes to be automatically dispersed into a dedicated account for tax remittance. As the industry evolves Medical Marijuana, Inc. intends to be the market leader in providing quick, easy payment solutions.


  1. I think this will put the government's gears in motion. If 1 place can acquire over $19 Million in revenue, then it is time the government started thinking of organized, and reasonable ways of taxing the sale of medical marijuana and letting it become legal throughout the United States. The legalization of medical marijuana could help take a big chunk out of the United States debt.

  2. Valid medicinal value, it’s a victimless crime, the War on Drugs WAY too costly, too many arrests for simple possession, tax it and use the money to pay for health insurance and to reduce the deficit…Need I say more?

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