“They are no different than a guy selling dimebags in the back of a van in Pacific Beach.”
Those are the words that the top commander of the San Diego DEA Acting Special Agent in charge, William Sherman, chose to describe the large number medical marijuana delivery services in an interview with NBC San Diego7 on Tuesday.
Since September of 2011, over 230 storefront medical marijuana dispensaries have been shut down across San Diego by federal and local law enforcement agencies. During the costly raids, tens of millions of dollars in inventory and money were seized by businesses that thought they were operating legally under California’s Prop215 and SB420.
But the crackdown on that booming business of medical marijuana dispensaries has caused an explosion of delivery services across San Diego. And now they find themselves in the DEA’s crosshairs.
In the same interview, Sherman refers to medical marijuana delivery services as drug dealers and cites claims that delivery drivers travel with armed guards and bring added violence to neighborhoods. A simple Google search will turn up far more headlines about robberies and violence during the delivery of pizzas than those regarding the delivery of marijuana.
Sherman and his office have thrown down the gauntlet, announcing that his goal is to have the current crop of medical cannabis delivery services shut down by the summer. Medical marijuana advocates, meanwhile, say police are cutting off what’s left of safe access for patients who can’t or don’t grow their own now that storefronts aren’t around.
Among those leading the charge is Eugene Davidovich and the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). In a statement released on his Facebook page, dated February 27th, Davidovich addresses the DEA and U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy directly, saying:
“If you think the community will sit by quietly while you attempt to shutter the last traces of access to medical cannabis that exist in San Diego, then you have another thing coming. We will not rest until you are held accountable for this attack and your previous attacks on patients. It is time for you to end this interference in state law and vindictive eradication effort. San Diego elected officials and community members deserve to regulate a medicine that has been legal in the State for 16 years without this federal interference.”
|San Diego mayor Bob Filner.|
Joining the growing resistance to this war on medical marijuana in San Diego (and lending the power of his pulpit to the debate) is newly-elected San Diego Mayor, Bob Filner.
Filner is an outspoken advocate of medical marijuana and its known benefits, and was swept into office last November on a wave of support from the cannabis community.
The edge Filner held in the late polls – and wound up winning by – was a near mirror image of the estimated number of marijuana users in San Diego. Hardly a coincidence and a fact that surely was not lost on Filner once he took office. Since a very public showdown with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith in January of this year, the Mayor’s office has been busily working with advocacy and patients’ rights groups to draft an ordinance that they feel will pass a razor thin 5-4 majority in the City Council.
That hearing was scheduled to take place on March 5th, but has already been postponed by at least a week or two, according to the Mayor’s office. In the meantime, statements like those being made in the media by the DEA, as well as city and state attorneys leave a lot of patients in limbo.
The pending ordinance hearing could either be a closing chapter in the story of the San Diego medical marijuana scene or – hopefully — a new beginning.
Beware the ides of March
Jack Daniel is a new freelance writer with Toke of the Town. He enjoys teaching the Macarena to zoo animals and loves long walks on the beach with a spliff in his hand. Look for more from Daniel in the coming weeks.