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I have seen the medical marijuana future, and it is in California

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Copyright Jon Katz.

total herbal consultation
Copyright Jon Katz.

Copyright Jon Katz.

A long weekend in Los Angeles for a conference unrelated to marijuana brought medical marijuana to my attention without my even looking for it, as follows:

  • My hotel was across the street from physicians with a sign proclaiming Total Herbal Consultation (website), or THC, as the acronym was proclaimed on the doorway.
  • A visit to Venice Beach at 10:30 a.m. yesterday, Sunday — when many beachfront retailers are still waiting to open — found a hawker welcoming people inside for a medical marijuana evaluation. The place is called Venice Beach Physicians, whose website is https://medicalkushdoctor.com .
  • Even my eureka find of a vegan Thai restaurant near the airport on my way back had marijuana just two doors down, at Centinela Green House Collective, which dispenses marijuana to those with a physician’s medical marijuana recommendation. This is a seedy-looking place — pardon the pun — with the stink of fresh marijuana there on entry, and leaves of marijuana sticking out from containers behind the front window in the wall separating the entryway from the activity of the employees. I understand that attractive dispensaries also are found in California.
  • I walked into two smoke shops, which seem abundantly available. As with a Honolulu smoke shop I visited during a recent vacation, the stores were filled with beautiful — and otherwise — pipes, bongs, vaporizers and other marijuana paraphernalia that would get a police raid in a heartbeat in my area. One of the Los Angeles shops I visited also prominently showcased salvia and K2/Spice in the display case.

A key theme here seems to be instant access to marijuana after a quick and inexpensive medical examination. How often do physicians offering such a service decline to issue a medical marijuana recommendation?

Where does a tourist smoke his or her medical marijuana? Many hotels are smoke-free. For those that are not, are there rules about what can be smoked in the rooms? Does California now have a cottage industry of hotels that allow pot smoking– not only in the rooms but in the lobbies? Michigan’s attorney general issued an opinion that it is illegal to smoke medical marijuana in a hotel room. A hotel risk management consultant in 2010 purportedly said that there are open questions about hotels’ obligations to medical marijuana smokers, boiling down to putting marijuana smokers in smoking rooms, asking to see documentary proof of their medical marijuana user status, and being flexible with medical marijuana recipients who are not mobile enough to smoke outside in smoke-free hotels. Do hotels really want the stink of smoked marijuana greeting guests on arrival?

After pondering where tourists smoke their medical marijuana, I found a sobering and sad news story of famous medical marijuana patient Angel Raich’s recent ejection from the University of California – San Francisco Medical Center, for vaporizing marijuana while there to have her brain checked, suffering from an inoperable tumor.

Unfortunately, the crass commercialism of the above-referenced physicians groups — which I suppose is rampant in California — does little to help the medical marijuana legalization movement in the rest of the nation. On the other hand, the commercialism of marijuana dispensers and head shops is a natural result from the necessary legalization of medical marijuana, and of marijuana itself.

ADDENDUM: Here are some additional thoughts:

  • California “law allows California-licensed doctors to issue recommendations for medical marijuana to out-of-staters.”
  • The California NORML website asserts that most California physicians require California residency to receive a medical marijuana recommendation.
  • “Toke of the Town’s” author says that Oregon and Montana permit non-residents to obtain permission to use medical marijuana.
  • In Venice, California, one person told me he uses medical marijuana, and obtains it from the Farmacy, which Drew Carey highlights here.