May 2011 home page

  Let’s Be Pot Smart!
Dave Druker | 10th Street


Photo illustration Art Olson


A medical marijuana dispensary has opened at 1105 Camino del Mar. This should not be a surprise to the City Council as the county and the City of San Diego have been grappling with the issue of permitting such dispensaries.

A vocal group of people will insist that the council prohibit all such dispensaries. They will argue that such dispensaries are magnets for vagrants and will increase the incidents of drug related crimes – panhandling, petty theft, breaking and entering. They will point to the experience of other communities in San Diego that have allowed (until recently) the opening of such dispensaries. They will also claim that this sets a bad example for our children who will see that adults use an illegal substance and these children will want to experiment with this substance which in turn will lead them into becoming addicted to marijuana or other illegal drugs. Finally, they will claim that such dispensaries are just places that anyone can get marijuana without a true medical condition.

Yet these arguments are probably not substantiated by the facts on the ground. Most dispensaries have been set up in areas with vagrants already present and with larger rates of crime. Children today are bombarded with lots of messages about alcohol and drugs and there is no proof that experimenting with alcohol or drugs leads to addiction or the use of more potent drugs. If it were the case that experimenting with marijuana leads to addiction probably half of the baby boomers would be addicted today.

The voters of Del Mar have spoken – they overwhelmingly approved Proposition 19 the legalization of marijuana by a margin of 64 to 36%. The council should determine conditions for a permit that provide for the safety of our city without turning a cold shoulder to the people that need marijuana to reduce their pain and suffering due to medical conditions. Specifically, conditions could be put on the dispensary to limit the number of people using the space on an hourly basis and limit the number of dispensaries within the commercial center of town. The council needs to be “easy on the person” and “tough on the problem.”

Del Mar cannot solve the social problems of the world, but we can create an environment that sheds a guiding light on how to intelligently deal with reality.


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