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Profiles in Boredom: Pot-Based Crimes are Generally Not Very Crimey 

Wednesday, Feb 19 2014

Cops Investigate Weed Brownie

The boys at the San Francisco Police Department crime lab had a tough cookie to deal with last year: a medical marijuana-infused edible that came complete with something a little extra, according to a citizen complaint.


The allegedly overmedicated edible arrived at the lab from the Department of Public Health, which duly investigated the laced treat as part of its mission providing oversight for San Francisco's 28 licensed dispensaries.

After thorough testing, the cops found... weed. There was indeed marijuana in the cannabis cookie, with no opiates to be found. Case closed.

Must have been some powerful stuff to compel a pot customer to call in the troops. But this weak tea, a complaint with no credibility, is representative of what the health department has dealt with in the eight-plus years of a San Francisco medical-marijuana industry overseen by public health professionals.

That is to say: Double-parking, people smoking weed, and a neon sign unfairly lit are the toll legal weed has wreaked on our fair city, according to records.

Since 2006, when the city's Medical Cannabis Act regulating dispensaries went into effect, there have been a grand total of 37 complaints filed against the city's cannabis clubs (which have fluctuated greatly in number during that time before settling around two dozen for the past few years).

Sixteen complaints were filed in 2013, the most of any year by far (there were 13 combined between 2008 and 2012, with a lone complaint in 2009), according to DPH records. But of those 16, six were lodged against establishments that aren't even dispensaries.

So, under three dozen problems for two dozen businesses in almost a decade.

And with a few exceptions — Re-Leaf Herbal on Mission Street got dinged a year ago for "hostile members harassing neighbors"; and Mission Organics, which has had an icy relationship with Outer Mission neighbors who never wanted it there in the first place, was labeled a "nuisance to the neighborhood" around the same time — the complaints are an almost-laughable litany of unnecessary oversight that, with any other industry, would be seen as nanny-state micromanaging.

For example: The DPH staff was called out to deal with overgrown decorative plants on Ocean Avenue, with double-parking on Mission Street, and multiple reports of people smoking weed.

And in September, for the final complaint of 2013, health department officials paid a visit to Green Cross in the Excelsior, where they asked the dispensary to turn off its illuminated sign. Crisis averted.

As for the contention that dispensaries cause crime, a canard repeated publicly by SFPD brass as recently as 2010? As far as the data shows, there were a few notable incidents: a scary "takeover-style" robbery at Purple Star Collective in the Mission Miracle Mile, a hostage-standoff at a warehouse grow in the Bayview, and rapper 2 Chainz being relieved of his wallet outside the Green Door on Howard Street. But other than that, no reported crimes definitively connected to dispensaries, according to the data available.

Here we have an industry with dozens of outlets, dealing with a drug that law enforcement says is connected to the criminal underworld, which presents less than four problems a year to its regulators.

And despite that record, this is an industry that city legislators, led by angry citizens, are seeking to regulate and limit further.

Keep looking for a reason why California shouldn't have a regulated retail marijuana marketplace — there's gotta be some Vicodin in here somewhere...

Marijuana Heroes Against Legalization — Again

By Valentine's Day, Californians were supposed to know if they might be able to vote on marijuana legalization in the fall. That was when the Drug Policy Alliance — the only legalization player with the necessary cash to run and win a statewide campaign — was supposed to decide whether or not to spend the requisite millions (provided by George Soros and the late Peter Lewis, DPA's biggest bankrollers).

DPA did not return calls by deadline, and no financial activity was reported to the California Secretary of State. No news — and no legalization — would be good news for Dennis Peron, one of the proponents of 1996's medical law, Prop. 215.

Peron is staunchly opposed to the proposed DPA initiative. Its 25 percent tax rate on legal weed funding a new giant bureaucracy of cops and inspectors overseen by state Alcoholic Beverage Control, its new laws on the books restricting access to minors, and its strict possession limits are "not legalization. It's restriction," he fumed.

"Let's get real. They don't want to legalize it," he said.

In essence, what this means is that whether DPA pushes its initiative through or not, some Californians will still somehow run afoul of the law because of weed.

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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