Don't be fooled by 'dispensaries'

The Desert Dispatch's August 18 article "City Council enacts moratorium on Marijuana dispensaries" contains misconceptions that are confusing communities across the state.

The term "dispensary" is not used in SB420, which created (but does not require) an ID card for those who have bought a marijuana "recommendation." It is not a "prescription," because marijuana is not a drug regulated by the FDA, and most recommendations originate with businesses which advertise and sell this piece of paper to virtually anyone and for any illness. Analysis of "patient records" by the San Diego County Narcotics Task Force showed 52 percent of those buying marijuana were under age 30. Only three percent of those buying marijuana had recommendations for AIDS, glaucoma or cancer.

Though California law prohibits selling marijuana for profit and requires a detailed relationship between a patient and a primary caregiver, dispensaries violate that requirement. The law allows only collectives and cooperatives, not storefronts with walk-up sales.

In San Diego we currently have 40 dispensaries, a rapid growth over six months ago when intensive law enforcement operations resulted in no dispensaries. It is incorrect that San Diego County already has guidelines in place. The San Diego Board of Supervisors has passed an urgency moratorium. In Los Angeles the number of dispensaries is in the hundreds perhaps as many as 1,000. They are not "easy to shut down" as an interviewee stated. Clearly dispensaries put marijuana into the community for illegal use. There is no medical grade for marijuana. It can come from the same illegal indoor and outdoor gardens that put marijuana on the street.

"The vote of the people" was mentioned by Councilmember Willie Hailey Sr. Californians did not intend unfettered access to marijuana, and propositions carry no more or less weight than other state laws. The people of California deserve better than the intentionally vague Proposition 215 that started this erosion of drug laws that protect individuals and communities. The burden now falls on city councils and county boards to use zoning and careful interpretation of the law to keep these retail marijuana stores out of their communities. Guidelines from the Attorney General detail the rules needed to have a lawful cooperative or collective. Zone these crime magnet marijuana stores out of Barstow.

Libba Jackson-D'Ambrosi, San Diego