- Terelle Jerricks
By Cory Hooker, Editorial Intern
Along with the general elections, medical marijuana reform was also on the ballot this election season. Voters were presented with Measure D, E and F. All representing radical changes to Los Angeles’ growing medical marijuana industry.
Measure D ended up being the only one to pass with 62 percent of total votes. It will close the majority of medical marijuana clinics while granting immunity from the ban clinics that have operated since September 2007. Along with a increase on the taxes paid, from $50 for each $1,000 of gross receipts to $60.
Measure D. leaves only about 135 medical marijuana clinics open out of the thousands that are present in Los Angeles County. Its biggest supporter was the Los Angeles City Council, the same ones who tried to outright ban Medical Marijuana clinics in Los Angeles this past year.
“I voted for (Measure) F, just because the better look of it from the collectives’ point of view,” said Raffael Lauro, a former employee of two large collectives in Los Angeles. “Especially for the fact that a lot of patients are not able to drive as far as other people. For some people, it’s easy to get in their car and drive for miles, but for some patients, especially the older ones it’s going to be a lot harder for them. Safety wise too, it’s really not good for patients or just in general for anybody.”
Measure F, along with the same taxation as D, also presented regulatory measures on the medicine sold by clinics. Inspections would take place checking for mold as well as other defects, making sure patients are getting the quality and safety they are looking for when they go to a clinic. Measure D presents no such measure.
“It’s no different than anything over the counter, except a little bit harder to do because you have to worry about mold, pesticides and all that,” Lauro said. “You want to make sure the plants are clean before you give them to patients, especially the severely ill ones.You have to test the medicine, and the fact that they don’t, you’re going to see a lot of people that think they can grow and say ‘they’re not going to test this, I can just sell it to the any clinic.’”
“They have said there’s around 1,300 clinics in Los Angeles, the bigger dispensaries have at least 10 to 15 people working for them. That’s thousands of thousands of jobs. That’s not counting security and the vendors that bring in edibles for patients. Not only that, people are going to have to turn back to drug dealers on the streets in order to get their meds due to the closing of their local clinics.”
Not only will it increase profit for the illegal dealers on the streets, but you have to think about how many patients actually exist in the Los Angeles area. Hundreds of thousands, and now they are all going to be concentrated in a small number of clinics — increasing traffic, overcrowding parking, and substantially increasing wait times for patients. Unsurprisingly, all 135 clinics that will stay open voted and endorsed Measure D.
“If there is only 135 clinics open, what’s stopping them for raising their prices or donations on meds and taking advantage of patients? A lot of patients only go to one clinic. The worst thing to happen when my dispensary closed was that I lost a lot of friends.”
Patients would come in every day, or every few days, and he would form a bond with them. They would specifically ask to talk with him.
“We talked about their plans for their summer or how their medical treatment was going, things like that,” he said. But then, his dispensary was shut down, “and I never got to see them again.”
He said that his dispensary served at least 10,000 terminally ill patients.
“At the end of the day, it may not always save lives but it’s helping them get by day-by-day pain free and helping them wake up and be able to smile and do the small things,” he said. “The fact that this measure passed, they’re going to be closing over a thousand clinics. It’s going to give these patients a much harder time when they are already suffering.”