Monday, October 05, 2009


Now that the med pot experiment is well under way, it’s becoming clear that the current law has not done what it was intended to do. In some ways, it’s made the situation worse.

For years we’ve been hearing from the pro-dopers that the key to reducing drug related violence and take the profit motive out of drug smuggling was – wait for it – legalize it and tax it. Simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker.

Armed with this simplistic revelation, the LA City Council licensed hundreds of “caregivers” to grow dope and sell it to anyone with a doctor’s note. When bumper sticker policy hits the real world, however, the result is generally a Pandora’s box. Or a Pandora’s footlocker. In the case of LA's Med Pot, it's a Pandora’s cargo container.

Reality is a bitch. Which is why our elected officials choose to operate in fantasy land. The brains that run the city and passed the pot ordinance completely ate it the first time around. Med Pot 1.0 left so many holes in the system that you have to wonder if the real authors of the ordinance were guys like Chapo Guzman or the Humboldt County Pot Growers Association.

As currently formulated, the laws controlling the sale of “medical” pot are tailor made to promote criminality and create more of a problem than they were designed to prevent. For instance, there’s no monitoring of where the pot comes from. It’s SUPPOSED to be grown either on the premises of the store or some mysterious “secure” location. In reality those secure locations are places like Sinaloa, Mexico, the Los Padres National Forest or the verdant hills of Honduras.

There’s no indication in the ordinance as to who monitors the grow plots, how the cannabis is transported, who transports it or how big the plot is allowed to get before it becomes illegal. The loopholes are big enough for Mexican and domestic DTOs (Drug Trafficking Organizations) to drive vans full of weed to the allegedly legal dispensaries.

What the original ordinance accomplished was nothing less than hand the DTOs four hundred to six hundred legal retail outlets. Some LA City Council staff I spoke to called putting millions of dollars into the pockets of criminals an “unexpected consequence.” To anybody with a shred of common sense, this particular consequence was as unexpected as say, finding a Cosa Nostra connection in a North Jersey concrete company.

Legal pot did not reduce street sales and it didn’t cut the smugglers out of the loop. Instead, it just gave them a new market and increased their cash flow. And this is cash in the literal sense. The pot stores don’t like checks or credit cards. Cash leaves no paper trail. So nobody, including the IRS, knows how much these “caregivers” are making. And, since the retail proceeds aren’t even taxed by the city, state or federal government, the taxpayers are seeing zero benefit. That notion that DTOs could have written this ordinance doesn’t sound so far fetched. And we’re paying our elected officials to write a law that any drug smuggler would have happily written for free. When the aspirations of drug smugglers seem indistinguishable from the policies created by the City Council you have to wonder about politicians’ intelligence or their true intentions.

Med Pot 1.0 was a bust. Right now, LA is working on the 2.0 version. Like the first version, this one doesn’t address the looming holes that leave the system wide open to corruption. Is anybody in the City Council actually thinking?

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