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Pot task force may get smoked for inability to make decisions 

Wednesday, Feb 2 2011

Cannabis advocates can agree that the plant should be decriminalized and its users, producers, and sellers should be able to do all of the above in peace. Anything beyond that, though, is subject to debate — and can turn into long-lasting feuds.

This is evident to attendees at the monthly meetings of San Francisco's Medical Cannabis Task Force. Created last year by legislation written by Supervisor David Campos, the task force's 15 members are a conglomeration of dispensary owners, pot growers, cannabis advocates, cannabis patients, and attorneys.

Some task force members seem to have little connection to the medical marijuana movement other than an affinity for the magic plant's benefits, but they have seats at the table nonetheless, and are charged with providing information, suggesting legislation, and alerting city departments and the Board of Supervisors of goings-on in the cannabis community.

Every nascent body politic has its share of growing pains, but the task force's first few months have been contentious. Schisms within the cannabis community run deep. Personal arguments and questionable tangents are routine and help ensure that only a handful of 15 agenda items can be heard at a two-and-a-half-hour meeting. After the task force took no action on a land-use issue, the one dispensary owner not on the task force who frequently attended meetings — Catherine Smith of HopeNet, the city's oldest — no longer turns up.

The task force did write to the City Attorney in November alerting officials to several land-use and law enforcement issues. But two months on, no reply has been received. That's partially why Kevin Reed — the president of delivery service Green Cross and a task force member — sent his own letter to the Board of Supervisors informing them of a proliferation of unlicensed, rogue pot delivery services. For his trouble, Reed was blasted by other task force members for circumventing its "authority."

All this is news to Campos. No task force member had come to him with anything — not legislation and not mentions of the task force's impotency, either. Campos realized that getting pot activists "on the same page" was going to be a struggle, but he put the task force on notice: "They have to get the work done. If they can't, I have no problem with saying 'This didn't work,' and moving on."

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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