On what the hell happened with SF medical marijuana last week
UPDATE: The District Attorney's office has retracted the memo detailed in this article, and told the Guardian that D.A. George Gascon "unequivocally supports medical marijuana." Full story here
HERBWISE "If they can successfully take out San Francisco, then medical marijuana is gone," said spokesperson of SF's Medical Cannabis Task Force Stephanie Tucker. I had given Tucker a call because I was trying to salvage some meaning from last week.
It was a confusing one for followers of local cannabis news. News broke of the district attorney's memo calling marijuana sales illegal (more on this later). They canceled Discovery Channel's Weed Wars reality TV show. Thieves dressed as ninjas robbed a cannabis deliveryperson in West Covina, Calif. Anti-cannabis driving laws were proposed by Chino Assemblymember Norma Torres. In a long-awaited KQED interview with US Attorney Melinda Haag, Haag pegged the blame for the threatening letters she's sent to the landlords of cannabis dispensaries on unsubstantiated crime spates such businesses invite to their communities. News reports circulated that Florida teen Trayvon Martin had been suspended from school for petty cannabis possession, as if that explained his murder at the hands of a racist crank. In the middle of it all, SF's Department of Public Health launched a campaign against the sale of hash and medicated edibles — but only for nine hours.
Well then, that's something. Of this last incident, at least, Tucker could offer some small clarification. On Tuesday, March 20, someone at the DPH sent out a memo outlining steps that could be taken to reduce the unspecified "potential hazards" of cannabis edibles. One of these counseled against selling products that "required concentrating cannabis active ingredients" — products like hash or kief, which is composed of sifted cannabis trichomes.
"Immediately after the advisory was issued, activists were alerted," Tucker said. The curtailing of concentrated products and edibles especially worried patient advocates because many can't — or choose not to — ingest marijuana by smoking it. After informal dialogue with the Department, the matter was squashed, the memo's message retracted by the agency.
That responsiveness is heartening for those concerned with safe and easy cannabis access, though the thought that a city agency would harsh on medical marijuana particularly now, at a time of heightened scrutiny by the federal government, is disquieting. Or perhaps the agency saw the memo as a way to patrol commercialization and increased branding of edible products. In recent years, everything from chocolate-covered waffle tacos to peanut butter energy bars have been infused with cannabis for commercial sale. Ironically, this kind of increased professionalization has also led to tighter quality control testing in analytical labs around the Bay Area — hypothetically making those products safer.
At any rate, cannabis patients won that office memo battle. The same has yet to be determined in regards to another recent threat to patient rights: a 14-page review that district attorney George Gascon's office produced this month calling out the "marijuana mega-myth." Stoners will be surprised to learn Gascon used the colorful term (he also employs the use of "semantogenic shell game" to describe efforts to normalize sales, vivid!) in reference to the belief that dispensary sales of cannabis are legal.