L.A.’s Pot Revolution

How Los Angeles became the “wild West” of medical marijuana—and lived to tell the tale.

On a warm, bright winter day in January, I spent a few hours driving around two neighborhoods in Los Angeles, looking at marijuana stores.

You know, marijuana stores. Where you (well, not necessarily you) can walk in and, if you can prove a doctor has recommended marijuana to you for relief of an ailment, walk out with a brown bag full of buds, pot brownies, or cannabis candy bars. Los Angeles has more than 500 of these stores. My companions on the drives were two citizen activists who didn’t like seeing so many marijuana shops and who regularly let the Los Angeles City Council know of their unhappiness.

Michael Larsen, a 43-year-old family man, is public safety director for the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. He doesn’t like to discuss his day job in the press, saying it has drawn too many hostile medical marijuana supporters to his work-related websites in the past.

Eagle Rock, a neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles, is visibly aging but remains dignified and distinct, with commercial areas occupied mostly by low-slung, pale old buildings housing storefront doctor’s offices, service businesses such as beauty salons and tax preparers, and independent restaurants and boutiques rather than chain stores. As we cruise a mile or so up and down Eagle Rock, York, and Colorado boulevards, Larsen points out more than 10 pot dispensaries. “Eagle Rock is about being a small community with a small-town feel, and we want to retain that,” he says.

Responding to criticisms he’s received from medical marijuana activists, Larsen insists: “I’m not being uncompassionate. I may be a NIMBY, but I’m fine with that. Eagle Rock is struggling to maintain the character of the neighborhood, for my kids or other people and their kids.” Larsen tells me about the healthy-looking young men who sometimes congregate in parking lots or on streets near dispensaries, smoking pot or blasting music. He points out one such young man entering AEC, a dispensary on Colorado Boulevard, while we are in its parking lot. He tells me about a local woman in her 80s who can’t understand what kind of world she’s living in, where marijuana is sold on her corner.

Larsen also points out some grubby-looking auto repair shops along his neighborhood’s main strip and tells me how the locals managed to curb their profusion through the city’s planning process. He talks about the auto repair shops in much the same way he discusses the pot shops. He does not think either should be completely eliminated, but he believes they constitute a blight on the neighborhood when they are too conspicuous.

Larsen and I pass one marijuana dispensary, the Cornerstone Collective, that I visited the day before. If you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t know it was there. It has no pot leaf images, no neon signs announcing “Alternative” or “Herbal,” no commercial signage at all. The owner, Michael Backes, told me with amused pride that a while back, when a runaway car plowed straight through his wall, a local news crew identified the place as a “dentist office,” which is what it looks like from its waiting room. Backes is “doing it right,” Larsen tells me.

My drive through Studio City, in the southeast San Fernando Valley just over the mountains from Hollywood, is similar. Barbara Monahan Burke, a 64-year-old horticulturalist who serves as the neighborhood council’s co-chair for government affairs, doesn’t say anything about increases in crime associated with the marijuana dispensaries (a connection often asserted by public officials), but she does complain about occasional pot smoking in front of them, which can annoy commercial neighbors. “I personally believe in compassionate use of medical marijuana and voted for it,” she says.

Within a couple of miles on Ventura Boulevard, a dozen dispensaries seem to be open for business on this weekday afternoon. (Burke told me in mid-February that by then she was only sure that six of them were still open for business.) “It’s about preservation of communities,” she says. “We want this to be a place where families can live. It’s about, what do the people who live here want our branding to be as Studio City?” That branding, she thinks, should not be linked to green crosses and billboards for Medicann, a medical marijuana doctors’ consulting service, every couple of blocks on her neighborhood’s major commercial strip.

The Wild West of Weed

Newsweek dubbed Los Angeles “the wild West of weed” in October 2009, and that phrase often echoed through the city council’s chamber as it haggled over a long-awaited ordinance regulating the dispensaries. Both the Los Angeles Times and the L.A. Weekly regularly jabbed at the city council for fiddling while marijuana burned, supplied by storefront pot dispensaries that were widely (but inaccurately) said to total 1,000 or more.

On January 26, after years of dithering and months of debate, the city council finally passed an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana shops. In addition to dictating the details of lighting, record keeping, auditing, bank drops, hours of operation, and compensation for owners and employees, the ordinance requires a dramatic reduction in the number of dispensaries. The official limit is 70, but because of exemptions for some pre-existing dispensaries the final number could grow as high as 137. The ordinance allocates the surviving dispensaries among the city’s “planning districts” and requires that they be located more than 1,000 feet from each other and from “sensitive areas” such as parks, schools, churches, and libraries. It also requires patients who obtain marijuana from dispensaries to pick one outlet and stick with it.

As those rules suggest, city officials are not prepared to treat marijuana like any other medicine, despite a 1996 state ballot initiative that allows patients with doctor’s recommendations to use it for symptom relief. It’s hard to imagine the city council arbitrarily limiting the number of pharmacies, insisting that they not do business near competitors, creating buffer zones between parks and Duane Reade locations, or demanding that patients obtain their Lipitor from one and only one drugstore. Such restrictions reflect marijuana’s dual identity in California: It is simultaneously medicine and menace. At the same time, the regulations do serve to legitimize distribution of a drug that remains completely prohibited by federal law—a stamp of approval welcomed by many dispensary operators.

When I asked activists, businessmen, or politicians why L.A.’s medical marijuana market needed to be regulated, they almost invariably replied, “It was unregulated.” When I delved beyond that tautology, I found motives little different from those that drive land use planning generally. The activists who demanded that the city bring order to the “wild West” of medical marijuana were motivated not by antipathy to cannabis so much as mundane concerns about “blight,” neighborhood character, and spillover effects. While responding to these concerns, every member of the city council voiced support for medical access to marijuana in theory, and none openly sided with the federal law enforcement officials who view the trade as nothing more than drug dealing in disguise.

Los Angeles became the medical marijuana capital of America thanks to a combination of entrepreneurial energy and benign political neglect. What happened here is instructive for other jurisdictions that already or may soon let patients use the drug. In the last 14 years, the voters or legislators of 14 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for at least some medical purposes. Medical marijuana campaigns, via either legislation or ballot initiative, are active in 13 other states. National surveys indicate broad public support for such reforms. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in January found that 81 percent of Americans think patients who can benefit from marijuana should be able to obtain it legally. 

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  • Kiwi Dave||

    Brilliant Onion video about DEA raids (quite subversive, I think):
    http://www.theonion.com/video/.....son,17224/

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Excellent work as usual by "The Onion."

  • Kiwi Dave||

    In all seriousness, I wonder if the drug warriors' minds would change if their own kin were facing a long spell in prison for possessing weed.

  • ||

    Their kin get busted all the time. They get rehab. Other people's kids get jail.

  • Live Raw Sewage||

    Sweet!

  • Jeffersonian||

    Who says we're losing the drug war?

  • ||

    Haha, yeah I saw this the other day. Reminded me of being 16 again.

  • ||

    dude.....

  • Paul||

    Larsen tells me about the healthy-looking young men who sometimes congregate in parking lots or on streets near dispensaries, smoking pot or blasting music. He points out one such young man entering AEC, a dispensary on Colorado Boulevard, while we are in its parking lot.

    I have no love for Larsen, but his point here might just serve as a cautionary tale. When we decided to 'medicalize' marijuana, we're undoubtely going to find that there are a lot of 'healthy' young people who have a sudden, inexplicable need for "medicine".

    At some point, someone's going to investigate this and find shenanigans. And because Pot is "medicine" an inevitable crack-down will occur.

    This has to be legalized broadly. If we don't, we're in for a very rude awakening.

  • Paul||

    hours of operation, and compensation for owners and employees

    Wha?!

  • ||

    If marijuana is a dangerous weapon, surely we have a right to it under the 2nd Amendment.

  • Paul||

    Subject to local, reasonable restrictions.

  • ||

    That branding, she thinks, should not be linked to green crosses and billboards for Medicann...

    Or:

    That branding, she thinks, should not be linked to silver bullet trains and billboards for Coors Light...

    Fucking people.

  • MrGuy||

    Good analagy.

  • Bünzli||

    The accidental result of a city attorney who didn’t want to legitimize marijuana and a city council that didn’t want to think about it could be the realization that it’s better to allow a pot free-for-all than to continue to wage war on marijuana.
    For that to happen people would actually have to show some common sense in judging a controversial issue. I'm not holding my breath!

  • ||

    NIMBYism, in the form of property owners who are concerned about the value of their home, means that the initiative to legalize cannabis statewide in California in November is doomed to defeat.

  • Edwin||

    I'm not a fan of zoning and land-use restrictions, but if there's one that's actually legitimate, it's restrictions meant to make the marijuana use more private. Most of the justifications for zoning in terms of "preserving" real estate values just don't hold up; most of the things that are restricted would NOT damage real estate values - just look at Houston. But a bunch of punks smoking marijuana outside right next door on a regular basis would most definitely destroy your house value. It constitutes real damage to you just as much as someone dumping on your land, or emitting pollutants into a stream that empties into a pond you own, etc.

    In other words - micromanaging the minutiae of details of your property as regular Euclidean zoning does, telling you how many families can occupy a home regardless of size, telling you you can't run a small business out of it, saying you can't build a shed - bad, and doesn't really protect realty values (they at best create an artificial rise until the bubble bursts again). Stopping punks from smoking marijuana in broad view of the public, which would be a MAJOR turn-off for MANY prospective buyers, - legitimate because it really can pwn the value of your realty.

    Now I'll grant that the restrictions described in the article go too far and some of them are just plain silly, but the concept is valid.

    And before any libertarians get all up-in-arms about it, just look at the Netherlands. They've effectively legalized marijuana. The massive amounts of violence and subsequent costs that prohibition created are gone, and marijuana use is actually LESS than here in The States. But they still have restrictions in terms of not smoking on public property, if I'm not mistaken. So it works out fine, even by libertarian standards (relative to what we have now). You can whine about your "moral principles" but you have to admit that the brunt of the damage done by prohibition is gone.

  • Hacha Cha||

    in the Netherlands you are talking primarily about recreational cafes, these are MEDICAL dispensaries. if a city is dumb enough to enact zoning laws, then any zone where a pharmacy can operate a cannabis dispensary should also be allowed. they are both dispensing medicine to patients, except the meds at a regular pharmacy are more hardcore.

  • WTF||

    I'm not a fan of zoning and land-use restrictions

    So you wouldn't mind if a hog rendering plant was built next door to your home?

  • Pip||

    Would I get any pig freebees?

  • Adonisus||

    If we made a deal to get some free chitterlings and hog maws.....I could live with it. :)

  • Edwin||

    read my post thoroughly - I'm saying that it's clearly appropriate in some situations

  • WTF||

    Just being snarky for not any really good reason. Isn't that what we do here?

  • MrGuy||

    Being a douche in general is not good practice.

  • Hacha Cha||

    if the hog rendering plant did not directly effect my property I wouldn't give a fuck what they put in. but my point is that a place of business that sells drugs (alcohol, rx, herbal) doesn't directly effect someone elses property. a hog rendering plant as you put it may directly effect a neighboring property if it was not built properly (ie: if they were leaking out an awful smell) but that can be argued, there is a cheese plant right next door and a bread bakery, one smells good, one smells like shit, but I don't mind either operating there, it doesn't bother me inside of my house and due to my proximity it doesn't really effect me outside of my house either. but start taking a walk across the street and you may catch a nice or nasty scent, oh well deal with it.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "local woman in her 80s who can’t understand what kind of world she’s living in, where marijuana is sold on her corner"

    Well, it sounds like she would probably be living in a world similar to the one of her youth...

    Also, I doubt she really owns "the corner", so she can buy it or shut up.
    Also, I doubt the old lady exists.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Apparently some elderly people find all sorts of aspects of the external world confusing and strange. Crazy, right?

  • Octogenarian||

    WHY IS MY CAR ACCELERATING? AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!!

  • WTF||

    Someday we'll be old and (more) confused, too...

  • Grandpa Whithers||

    I'm already there, baby. Already...oh look, a squirrel!

  • MrGuy||

    Why should conflict between old people stagnation vs modern progression dictate how everyone lives? If you don't understand what's going on around you, you have no right to bitch.

  • ||

    Even people who don’t care about pot smoking in general get upset when they think stoners are gaming a system that is supposed to serve patients with doctor-certified needs.

    I understand that sentiment, but it should be clear that people need to "game the system" because it's been gamed to death by prohibitionists for decades now. So long as that demand is unable to find any legitimate outlets, it will use illegitimate ones.

    Besides, that really has nothing to do with dispensaries; a fraudulent "stoner" can just as easily grow his own marijuana under the guise of medicinal need as he can buy it at a dispensary.

  • Edwin||

    meant to post this here:

    I'm not a fan of zoning and land-use restrictions, but if there's one that's actually legitimate, it's restrictions meant to make the marijuana use more private. Most of the justifications for zoning in terms of "preserving" real estate values just don't hold up; most of the things that are restricted would NOT damage real estate values - just look at Houston. But a bunch of punks smoking marijuana outside right next door on a regular basis would most definitely destroy your house value. It constitutes real damage to you just as much as someone dumping on your land, or emitting pollutants into a stream that empties into a pond you own, etc.

    In other words - micromanaging the minutiae of details of your property as regular Euclidean zoning does, telling you how many families can occupy a home regardless of size, telling you you can't run a small business out of it, saying you can't build a shed - bad, and doesn't really protect realty values (they at best create an artificial rise until the bubble bursts again). Stopping punks from smoking marijuana in broad view of the public, which would be a MAJOR turn-off for MANY prospective buyers, - legitimate because it really can pwn the value of your realty.

    Now I'll grant that the restrictions described in the article go too far and some of them are just plain silly, but the concept is valid.

    And before any libertarians get all up-in-arms about it, just look at the Netherlands. They've effectively legalized marijuana. The massive amounts of violence and subsequent costs that prohibition created are gone, and marijuana use is actually LESS than here in The States. But they still have restrictions in terms of not smoking on public property, if I'm not mistaken. So it works out fine, even by libertarian standards (relative to what we have now). You can whine about your "moral principles" but you have to admit that the brunt of the damage done by prohibition is gone.

  • ||

    Yeah I mean I don't think many of us would reject a model of heavily zoned legal industry in favor of maintaining prohibition.

    But the problems you're talking about aren't at all unique to dispensaries. Liquor stores, bars, sex shops, gun stores, and pawn shops could all have similar effects on surrounding property values. So yeah, go ahead and subject these businesses to zoning laws, but do so in a manner consistent with the regulations imposed on other, similar businesses.

  • Edwin||

    oh my god, a reasonable response that actually recognizes some policies as better or worse, instead of just shrill moral absolutism - from a LIBERTARIAN!?

    I think my head just exploded

  • ||

    Haha, I'm sure responses like that will encourage libertarians to continue interacting with you in a civil and respectful manner.

    Really though, we're not the pig-headed doctrinaires everybody thinks we are. We're just looking for freedom -- and criminal prohibition is about the most egregious violation of freedom imaginable in the whole drug policy arena.

    I don't personally know any libertarians who would knowingly sacrifice the "good" (an end to arrests for marijuana use and sales)for the sake of the unattainable "perfect" (no drug laws whatsoever).

  • Edwin||

    I'm sorry but 30% to 50% are indeed shrill, dogmatic, and often depraved lunatics. I consider myself a libertarian, but with the "small l" caveat - or "sane" caveat. I've seen libertarians say:

    A) Child prostitution should be legal, as long as you're paying the child
    B)Circumcision should be a legal, you baby-hating monster
    C)All U.S. soldiers are traitors
    D)Forcibly keeping someone in their house would be fine if you owned all the land around it (this is a situation that does actually come up in real estate - and no, you can't do that)

    etc. etc.

    And these same people never recognize any improvements, and every minute regulation or law is a gross violation of human rights - even if marijuana gets legalized a la Holland they'd still complain

    There's me and you and the Reason crew here, but there is also the other kind of libertarian.

  • ||

    I'd be interested to find out where you got your numbers from. 30-50% sounds really high for the nutjob quotient. I'd be personally inclined to peg that at around 5% of the human population, whether libertarian, Democratic, Republican, or whatever.

    There are some crazies out there, and yes some of them self-identify as libertarians.

  • Edwin||

    I really hope you're right. I really do. But I get the idea that it's a lot more than that from the Free State Project-ers. There are some who don't take the philosophy to ridiculous ends, but they're conspiracy theorists. Seems to be very few reasonable people there.

  • ||

    Seems to be very few reasonable people there.

    Even if that were true, it wouldn't exactly serve to distinguish libertarians from any other broad political contingent.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "But a bunch of punks smoking marijuana outside right next door on a regular basis would most definitely destroy your house value."

    How so? It seems pretty harmless to me, as long as they have permission to be where they are, and aren't causing any damage to your property. And you're assuming that people who smoke cannabis are going to be obnoxious assholes, rather than like the people I see smoking cigarettes every day outside their house.

    Really, your justification goes something like this:
    "But a bunch of [group of people] [activity I don't like] outside right next door on a regular basis would most definitely destroy your house value."

    Property values are not an entitlement.

  • Edwin||

    Yes but their massively dropping could be considered damage to the property, or an externality

    Property values would drop massively in an area if open and public marijuana use all over the public rights-of-way were a regular thing. If I were raising a family I would never buy such a house in such an area, and very few other people would either. And if there were a store (commercial real estate) in such an area, I would go to it much less, if at all, again, certainly not with my kids. And again, there are many many people like me. Hell, the entirety of the house business involves selling the house to the WIFE, lol. A large chunk of home buyers are the typical American nuclear families. Single people don't need an entire house to themselves.

    So yeah, property values would plummet, completely screwing over many people (remember, you've got to make the mortgage payments). And yes, that could be seen as an externality. It's not as "direct" of a damage as would be done by the stink of a rendering plant, or the noise of a rave-club, but I could see an argument to consider it an externality nonethless.

    Telling me I can't build a fence or a shed, or limiting a house to being 1-family regardless of size or parking space it has, or saying that a commercial building can be a restaurant but not a storefront - now that's stupid.

  • GRRRR||

    I am a single, pot-smoking, homeowner. I wish that my neighbor's annoying 15 year old kids and their friends would start smoking weed and calm done a little, rather than be the destructive noisy little alcoholics that they are.

    Can I sue my neighbor for lowering my property value? One of their kids vomited in my driveway and tossed a liquor bottle in my flower garden.

    I think that my smoking on my deck in my backyard is far less destructive then the alcoholics next door. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a stoner for a neighbor.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    The children. We've heard it before.

    "Property values would drop massively in an area if open and public marijuana use all over the public rights-of-way were a regular thing."

    If you are worried that cannabis will cause such a huge problem in your area, you probably live in a shit hole already. No zoning is going to fix it. Cannabis use would probably be as big of a problem as people having beers or cigars on their patio, which is to say, not a problem unless you are a nosy asshole.

  • ||

    In the 80's people were still trying to say that they should be able to not sell homes to blacks in some neighborhoods, because it might bring down the property value. From a property value standpoint, they may have been right, but it's still wrong. Unless you own the property that the activity is occurring on, or the smell from the weed is spilling onto your property in a way that makes it difficult to live your life, you have no argument. Just because you don't like something, and it may bring down your property value, that doesn't mean that you can regulate your neighbors property. You should have to prove real damages to health, safety, or convenience (the ability to live your life the way that you want on YOUR property). Some people down the street smoking weed outside a pot dispensary doesn't really constitute harm.

  • Edwin||

    OK you guys are being silly. A huge chunk of the market would not want to buy a house in an area where people smoke pot openly in public streets, and you all know it. Nobody wants to raise kids in a place like that. I'd even bet you could find statistics from Holland backing it up.

    And when you owe multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bank (and that's even IF you put down a large down payment), it really is damage if you can't sell your house.

  • Edwin||

    or rather, maybe a trend could be seen (and extrapolated from) from properties near liquor shops, gun shops, brothels, strip clubs, etc.

    Indeed, isn't that exactly where house prices are lowest - in the "bad" parts of town? Though of course, there may be a lot more at work there.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Your property values are not a justification for the violation of someone's individual liberty or property rights. Owning property comes with the risk that it will not be worth what you think it should be. Externalities are bullshit- either something causes direct damage or it doesn't. Observing someone smoking cannabis is no different than observing someone smoking tobacco.

  • fortyouncer||

    Where are all these crazy people which will fill up the streets with their pot-smoking mayhem going to come from? Surely, those types are already smoking pot, and not bothering you now. Or do you suspect there is a large, silent, law abiding majority, just waiting for that $100 fine to be removed before they start the reefer madness and drive down your property value?

  • Edwin||

    it's comforting to know that the dogmatic types only have rationalization, deflection, and ignoring in response to my actual points.

  • ||

    "How so? It seems pretty harmless to me"

    You are clearly NOT a homeowner.

    "Property values are not an entitlement."

    You might be right, but you can count on property owners to fight for their values as if they were an entitlement.

    My justification goes something like this
    "Bunch of sophomoric, stoned (high ranking beef) idiots living next door to me in a rental will definitely destroy my house value, so I'll use my contacts in the city to get them evicted."

  • Edwin||

    "Property values are not an entitlement"

    "You might be right,..."

    but they're not right. It might sound nice in libertarian theory, but the reality is much more harsh. Houses nowadays, even after the crash, are expensive, extraodrinarily expensive. They involve massive debt no matter how much you save and how small you buy. And apartments, being similarly priced in terms of monthly payments, are no substitute when tax write offs and the prospect of actually owning the house are considered. So damn near everyone has houses. If you get fucked over with a massive drop in house value, and are left a few hundred thousand dollars in debt, because of a system you don't control (that is, that made the house prices so high in the first place), no amount of libertarian philosophizing on human rights is going to change the fact that you're fucked.

  • ||

    "How so? It seems pretty harmless to me"

    You are clearly NOT a homeowner.

    "Property values are not an entitlement."

    You might be right, but you can count on property owners to fight for their values as if they were an entitlement.

    My justification goes something like this
    "Bunch of sophomoric, stoned (high ranking beef) idiots living next door to me in a rental will definitely destroy my house value, so I'll use my contacts in the city to get them evicted."

  • Hacha Cha||

    great article. it is both hilarious and sad that these fools didn't learn a thing from alcohol prohibition. of course crime will surge if you make a highly desirable chemical illegal, allow it to be sold legally and nearly all of that crime disappears. sure people may rob liquor stores, but people rob places to get TVs, does that mean TVs cause crime and should be prohibited?

  • ||

    I think anything the city is doing to pot they should also do to prescription-drug sellers.

  • Hacha Cha||

    exactly, how is it their place to discriminate based on what kinds of drugs your store is selling. they should be encouraging more businesses to open up, regardless if they are dispensing oxycontin, amphetamine, alcohol, or cannabis.

  • ||

    They could solve this completely by selling marijuana at Walgreens and CVS. If it is medicine, sell it where medicine is sold.

    Or, you just let anyone sell it because they have no business telling us what we can and cannot do to our own bodies.

    But what they have now is stupid and causes such NIMBYism.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Let me save your head from exploding Edwin. I live right by the part of Ventura talked about in this article and have watched dispensary after dispensary open up and have never seen anyone smoking pot outside of them, in fact it's exactly the same as it was before.

    Not only should there be less restriction on dispensaries there should also be less restriction on bars, liquor stores,pharmacies, sex shops AND gun stores. How's that for shrill absolutism?

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Rhayader, as a libertarian you don't personally know, I feel I should inform you that I don't think there should be any drug laws whatsoever where adults are concerned. Except maybe it should be illegal to beat someone to death with a brick of hash.

  • ||

    Right, but even when you say "where adults are concerned" you're talking about regulation. Don't get me wrong, I agree in principle, but that doesn't mean I'm going to shit all over a regulated marketplace model that would clearly be a major improvement over zero-tolerance prohibition.

    Should drugs be legal? Yes. Will I vote for whatever pathetic minor not-especially-libertarian improvements I can get? Absolutely.

  • tony||

    I couldn't agree with you more...it's too bad we don't have a medical mushroom movement that has as much clout as the medical marijuana movement...you may think this next statement is funny...I agree with you on less restrictions on all the above that you mentioned...except for pharmacies. All too often, big pharma peddles pharmaceuticals that can really fuck you up just as bad, if not worse, than crack, smack and meth....the social consequences of letting big pharma and their peddlers (pharmacy outlets) have a free for all would be drastically bad. Ironically, pharmaceutical medications could cost society more money and lives than weed and mushrooms.

  • tony||

    I am absolutely all for a marijuana free for all...and I don't even smoke it (hmm hmm)!

  • Fiscal Meth||

    How did you come up with 30-50% Carl Rove?

  • Edwin||

    I'm Karl Rove because I'm not a lunatic? Did you read my examples? I swear to you those are things libertarians have claimed.

  • Edwin||

    if you want some more examples - once a clear paranoid schizophrenic posted on a libertarian forum. He was talking about how he was the victim of "organized stalking". He believed that vast numbers of people were stalking and keeping tabs on him - and everyday gestures were actually "signals" the "agents" were sending to each other.

    Now it'd be fine if it were one lone nut - but the other posters sympathized with him. Others tried to debate him, asking him to "show evidence". A clear out-and-out schizophrenic, and they expect to have a meaningful debate with him.

  • ||

    That's just an anecdote from some nameless web site though. I think Fiscal's question implied that you have no basis for that 30-50% figure; I think that's what the misspelled Karl Rove dig was all about.

    And he's sorta right -- you won't convince us that we have a 50% chance of being lunatics by listing off a few stories from internet forum conversations.

  • Edwin||

    Jesus Christ, man, whatever, I'm estimating

    and no the people who post on Reason do seem reasonable

  • Colonel_Angus||

    You sound retarded.

  • Edwin||

    Why?

    Don't believe me on the screwy-libertarian thing? Youtube "free state project" or go on their forums. You'll learn all about how oppressive driver's-license laws are and how we're in a police state.

  • ||

    But the Free State Project is not the central information depository for philosophical libertarians. You should spend as much time reading Radley Balko, Will Wilkinson, Cato Institute, et al before you decide that a few whack jobs speak for the broad group.

  • ||

    Fuck you, when Bush was in power, I would talk to leftists on myspace who believed that the FBI and CIA and department of homeland security were spying on them, because they had "FUck Bush" posted on their myspace. On the right, you have the people who buy duct tape and plastic bags to prepare for a terrorist attack in wisconsin. There are nuts on all sides. You are just trying to raise some ire for no fucking reason.

  • Edwin||

    Oh jeez. Calm down, spazz. I'm just saying it's a trend I noticed. I'm a libertarian myself, but "small l", like Glenn Reynolds, or Tucker Carlson, or the guys who write for Reason.

    But you are falliny prey to a libertarian tendency described here:
    http://www.inmalafide.com/2010.....bout-them/

  • ||

    maybe you're just a douche. Did you ever think about that?

  • Edwin||

    hoo hoo - I theem to have thruck a nerve?

    perhaps my observations have caught the ire of someone trying to stay on a certain river in Egypt?

  • Fiscal Meth||

    No, you're Carl Rove because you invent statistics to sound unimpeachible.

  • Edwin||

    it's called an estimate, you spazz

    no, I haven't personally performed a poll. Big surprise.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    There are screwy centerists on the internet. There are Liberals on the internet who say we're in a police state and 9-11 was an inside job. The internet is a big place Edwin, you have no point, give it up.

  • Edwin||

    jesus christ you're a spazz. I'm just saying it's a trend I noticed. The loony ones form a disproportionate share of the whole of the libertarians I've seen (on the innernets).

  • ||

    I'm just saying it's a trend I noticed.

    Right. And we're just saying that there's no trend there, and that noticing one isn't valid given the available evidence.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Sorry, I guess the playfulness doesn't really come through. My point is the first thing whack-jobs do when the go all whack-jobby is go get a web-cam and purport to speak for a whole group of people.

    The "Free State Project", too, is a bunch of individuals who wanted to move to a more free state and try to make it even more free. There are some whackos but I think that project makes a lot more sense than California's "Go Broke State Project"

  • Kroneborge||

    Yes, but to bad they didn't pick a better state, lol

  • lunchstealer||

    Heh. They should check out Denver. There are now two dispensaries within a couple blocks of my office - that I've spotted (the number of lame take-offs on 'Mile High' and 'Rocky Mountain High' are staggering) and at least 12 within a mile of my house.

  • Some Liberal||

    We're only for states' rights when it comes to abortion and pot.

  • South Dakota Liberal||

    We're only for states' rights when it comes to abortion

    Slow down there, cowboy.

  • adamatari||

    The easy solution is to put pot in convenience stores with the cigs and beer, and place the same restrictions on public use as are on tobacco smoking in California. Nobody loses property value because of convenience stores because they are already zoned and expected to have people hanging out around them day and night. NIMBYism can't argue with 7-11, because even the NIMBY people need gas and a candy bar sometimes.

    The ultimate question of all this, the road this is leading to within the next 10 years, is whether we're going to legalize of retrench. Sadly, the chances of retrenchment are very, very high, even with a majority in CA behind legal weed. Ultimately it will become a national issue, and our leaders will have to choose between withdrawing from the UN drugs conventions or cracking down. The current "bust occasionally for image" status quo can't last forever.

    If the US goes legal, Europe will too. Asia will not. This is my prediction.

  • Edwin||

    +1 on the 7-11 proposal

  • ||

    Libertarians have a lot of good ideas, but what always keeps me from identifying myself as a Libertarian is this nealy psychotic defense of drug use. Nearly every single argument from Libertarians seems to center around their right to get high. Knowing that such short sightedness pervades the movement I fear that the second a joint is decriminalized most so-called Libertarians would suddenly lose interest in their "Libertarian" ideals. Try worrying more about illegal wiretaps, taxation without representation, and wanton trashing of the Constitution before smoking your joint and maybe, just maybe, people might start taking Libertarians more seriously. A movement dominated by the "right" to get stoned belongs more rightly in the pages of "High Times" than a website/magazine that is desperately trying to be taken seriously -- and currently failing. "Reason" sorely lacks its own self-identifying credentials.

  • ||

    More true than you know, Nick. They worry about wiretaps because someone may overhear something about a drug sale; the fear people looking into their backyards because someone might spot a pot plant; they fear illegal search and siezure because a cop may find a drug stash under the steering column; EVERYTHING centers around this perceived "right" to use drugs. All other rights be damned. Libertarians are like your racist grandma; you love her dearly and her old timey stories are genuinely fun to listen to and she seems to be sewn out of whole-cloth common sense -- THEN she calls her next door neighbor a "darkie" and you just need to put a gun to her head and put her out of her misery.

  • adamatari||

    Nick, maybe you should actually read this site instead of just painting the entire libertarian movement as a bunch of druggies? On Reason's front page I see THIS article and 2 others about drugs, out of 30. That's 10%, which may seem high to you but considering there is a Mexican Drug War on our border, a massive and racially imbalanced incarceration problem in the US that is linked to the US drug war, and we are fighting a war in Afghanistan and having troubles because their economy is based on drug production... Not to mention drugs have been used as a shield for encroachments on liberty like civil forfeiture... Well, it seems like it's an issue that is important.

    If you won't take a stand for your neighbor's freedom to toke a joint, why should he care if you get wiretapped? What excuse do you THINK they use when they trash the Constitution that you hold dear? It seems to me it's drugs and terrorists every time.

    You can't call yourself a libertarian if you won't defend liberty. The liberty to use drugs may seem a piddling thing to someone who's never deviated from the allowed alky and cigarettes, but you need to consider how deeply it affects other liberties, and perhaps read up on the prohibition era.

  • ||

    How I wish for the good old days before all the dispensaries opened up and there was no crime in California. lol

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    The ultimate question of all this, the road this is leading to within the next 10 years, is whether we're going to legalize of retrench.

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  • Generator||

    There are screwy centerists on the internet. There are Liberals on the internet who say we're in a police state and 9-11 was an inside job.

  • Auction||

    There are some work but I think that project makes a lot more sense than California's "Go Broke State Project"

  • SEO||

    I recomment youu to try worrying more about illegal wiretaps, taxation without representation, and wanton trashing of the Constitution before smoking your joint.

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