In the Medical Pot Trenches


An interesting addendum to Jacob's report below on the latest good-news science on the medical benefits of pot is Vanessa Grigoriadis's detailed and fascinating report from the new Rolling Stone (Feb 22 issue) on the high-security, high-stress, quasi-legal business end of Los Angeles's medical pot machinery, in the days leading up to and culminating in last month's batch of federal raids on LA pot providers. Some excerpts:

The security's not for the cops—it's the robbers that Daniel's [the LA medical pot mogul Grigoriadis's story focuses on] worried about. He's been robbed more than once, but he notes with a touch of pride that he's never had a "takeover robbery." That's when thieves dress up as LAPD and pretend they're raiding the store, then hogtie the clientele and steal everything in sight (in the biz, they're called "Ocean 420s"). When a friend of Daniel's had a takeover robbery, the friend called the cops, and the cops arrested him.


[Daniel tells Grigoriadis]: "Still, cash flow is very difficult. There is no way for me to properly franchise this, to the point where I'm taking a percentage in profits, kicking back and making money." He cannot keep detailed records, he says, because of the possibility of a DEA raid, and he couldn't entrust an assistant to keep records, because of the possibility that he might turn out to be an informant.

The narcs—they're such a nuisance. Last year, they raided one of his shops, and he lost more than $100,000 in the process. In addition to draining Daniel's bank accounts, the feds did a "snatch-and-grab" at the store—pot, computers, cash, anything not bolted to the ground—and even went to the house of one of his employees……Daniel could maybe even get his money back, but he'd have to pay an asset-forfeiture lawyer a third of his winnings plus show the feds all sorts of records, and that's the last thing he wants to do.


"This is our life out here—feds keep their nose out!" [Daniel] says. "Washington will never understand California, so they write us off as liberal, gay, Jewish subversives undermining the value of America. They don't like us, and I don't like them. This movement is one more way of saying to D.C., 'Step back.' We will not stand for states' rights eroded." He is also in favor of pot as an alternative health-care system: "We have the right to do our own thing, to not support Pfizer, Eli Lilly and the health-care system just because they have more powerful lobbyists in Congress than we do," he says.

Whole story here. It's overall a fascinating tale of a harried small businessman, worried about feckless employees, suppliers who don't want to deal with you if you won't buy every single thing they have to sell since they don't want to be caught on the way home with your money and their illegal substance, and trying to build something like legitimacy and business security in a world where you are an outlaw by definition and the Feds are always ready to slam you, state's rights be damned.