Sadness, anger, and confusion hung thick in the fragrant, smoky air of two of San Francisco's oldest and most prominent medical marijuana dispensaries – HopeNet in SoMa and Vapor Room in Lower Haight – during their last day in business yesterday, the latest victims of an aggressive federal government crackdown on the industry.
Throughout the day, vendors, patients, neighbors, and well-wishers stopped in to say goodbye and commiserate over a trend that just doesn't make sense to them, or to the local politicians and city officials that have spent years setting up a regulatory structure that had legitimized the cannabis industry, which thrived as the rest of the economy suffered through the recent recession.
“I've always treated this as if it were just a nice coffee house. I'm not an outlaw,” said Martin Olive, whose Vapor Room was a friendly community gathering place and active member of the local business community that gave away free bags of vaporized marijuana to low-income patients on a daily basis. “I almost forgot I was breaking federal law. It was so normal, so legitimate.”
As President Obama arrives in Oakland for a fundraiser today, medical marijuana activists have already made a point with a rally on the steps of Oakland City Hall this morning. Protesters demanded that the President halt raids of dispensaries and other operations legally allowed by California law. Read more »
So how many angry pot smokers (and how many of my libertarian-leaning blog trolls) are going to love this? The governors of four western states want to take control of federal land inside their borders, and they're organizing to do it. Mostly a political stunt -- the governors want to allow more mining, ranching, and drilling on public lands, and the feds are taking it a bit more slowly. Read more »
The Bay Citizen ran, without comment or perspective, a Bay City News item Dec. 23 noting that the Hayward Police Department and other local law-enforcement agencies picked up some $1.2 million when the feds disbursed the money that was seized from a marijuana dispensary that was busted in 2006.Read more »
HERBWISE "I always knew that doing this show would be a risk," says Harborside Health Center founder Steve DeAngelo in a phone interview with the Guardian. A medical marijuana dispensary could probably always be considered controversial fodder for a nighttime reality TV program, but DeAngelo's enterprise rose above standard controversy when it became the target of the IRS, the federal agency ruling that it could no longer write off common business expenses. It now owes $2 million — an amount that left the rest of the industry quaking with concerns over its future.Read more »