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If it’s weed, it leads

October 31, 2009 - 12:08 pm

weed“Storefronts selling Valium and Vicodin—some of the drugs most abused by adolescents—are springing up across San Diego County, often within the vicinity of schools and other places kids congregate. Parents tell Channel 7 the prevalence of Walgreens, Vons and Rite Aids in San Diego sends the wrong message to children…”

OK, you’d never, ever see this report on television news, but why not? That’s the tack Channel 7’s Mari Payton took in her medical cannabis “investigation” on last night’s 11 p.m. newscast. The sensationalized top story, “Where’s the Weed?” was heavily promoted during commercial breaks and it’s currently splashed, with an image of a youth puffing on a joint, across the front page of the NBC affiliate’s web site.  The piece transposes images of cash and weed with images those shock! bending images of school signs and kids on campus.

Payton makes the argument that parents should be up in arms about how many dispensaries have popped up in San Diego County and how that encourages teen drug use. (Does it also encourage kids to get leukemia? After all these are medical facilities) Then she makes a big hoo-ha about how Green Earth Herbal Collective’s proprietor recommends the plant as a remedy for anxiety disorders. As if experimenting with SSRI cocktails isn’t just as irresponsible.

But those aren’t Schedule 1 narcotics. That’s the justification for the double standard. The data, though, indicates that when it comes to teen drug abuse,  it doesn’t matter whether the drug’s illegal or not.

According to a 2008 report by the White House’s Office of National Drug Policy, prescriptions were the second most abused drug by teenagers after marijuana: 3 percent of 12 to 17 years olds abused pharmaceuticals compared to 7 percent for marijuana. In addition, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 70 percent of stimulant-abusing teens also abused marijuana.

OK, I’ll concede that perhaps these dispensaries shouldn’t be near schools as liquor shops are generally not. What Payton misses—unforgivable for a journalist—is Thursday’s big news that San Diego’s dispensaries, under the umbrella of Southern California NORML, have offered up a draft city ordinance for regulating themselves. As CityBeat reported, the dispensaries are ready to agree to a rule that would prohibit operations within 500 feet of a school. SoCal NORML director Craig Beresh says there’s a lot of wiggle room, which presumably would include increasing that distance.

Beresh wasn’t interviewed and the Thursday afternoon press conference wasn’t included in the piece. Instead, Green Earth was the only pro-medipot source used to balance out opposition interviews with the District Attorney’s Office, law enforcement and upset parents.

Payton should learn to Google.

A few semi-related notes:

A warning to Green Earth and other dispensaries who agree to grant access to television crews: First of all, you might get burned by the reporter. Secondly, according to at least two search-warrant affidavits filed in San Diego Superior Court,  dispensaries came to the attention of law enforcement  from television reports.

Hillcrest Compassion Care, one of the dispensaries raided in September, is still advertising on cable TV. I saw the spot last night.

Steve Breen had a poignant cartoon in Thursday’s U-T contrasting the willingness of medical cannabis providers to treat any condition with pot against the health insurance industry’s willingness to reject coverage for any condition.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen Rhea permalink
    October 31, 2009 - 12:19 pm 12:19 pm

    Thank Goodness for Dave Maass… your honest, legitimate reporting is desperately needed! Keep up the great work!! Clowns like Payton dispense fiction at best.

    • October 31, 2009 - 12:33 pm 12:33 pm

      Wow, that was a quick response. Thank you for it, though.

  2. mofle619 permalink
    October 31, 2009 - 3:20 pm 3:20 pm

    the messed up part is…. uneducated and/or uninformed parents will agree with payton and make the further legalization of marijuana or further legitimization of co-ops a lot harder in future elections.

    • October 31, 2009 - 3:36 pm 3:36 pm

      Just like Dumanis’ unsubstantiated rise-in-crime claim. Blech.

  3. October 31, 2009 - 4:03 pm 4:03 pm

    Good job Dave, its a shame there arent enough people like you to let others know this is weird. Its almost as if the reporter is taking advantage of the situation and making it sound like the BS reefer madness again!

  4. Let's be honest with one another permalink
    November 1, 2009 - 5:19 pm 5:19 pm

    These pot shops are not cropping up because we have so many terminally ill unfortunates in Pacific Beach. And storefront peddlers are not comparable to Mother Theresa bringing penicillin to the needy in Third World communities. There is a ton of $$$ to be made with the added personal benefit of having access to premium stuff. (“Shoot, I think I feel an anxiety attack coming on. Where’s my bong?”)

    Plus there’s the not-completely-unfounded belief that marijuana is a fatty gateway drug.

    The news story simply tapped into legitimate sentiments. You have to give that to them. They know their audience.

  5. November 1, 2009 - 5:35 pm 5:35 pm

    OK, let’s be honest. I’m sure plenty of these dispensaries are trying to build up clientele now with the hopes that they can transform from pharmacies to the pot equivalent of liquor stores once marijuana is legalized. Some of these folks, however, are genuinely putting themselves at risk in order to help the seriously ill.

    Regarding your parenthetical…I think you’ll find just as many people saying to them selves “Shoot, I think I feel an anxiety attack coming on. Where’s my Atavin?” Folks don’t seem to have a problem with the pharmaceutical companies running ads for antidepressants on television. They have a shit ton of money to make off mood enhancers. This one, for Pristiq, is the creepiest of all:

    Fatty gateway drug? I think teenage hormones are probably more to blame. Not to mention booze…

    Legitimate sentiments or irrational fear? Whatever the case, leaving out the draft ordinance was poor reporting.

  6. November 4, 2009 - 5:56 pm 5:56 pm

    What these parents should be wary of is law enforcement who pick and choose which laws they will enforce. There’s a place for compassionate use because voters made one. I don’t want gun-toting cops coming to my neighborhood and drawing guns because they feel the voters where duped and they must close down a collective because their non-profit status is in question. If you are for erradication, you are dangerous to your children and fostering the continued risk of prohibition.

    • sdbudz permalink
      November 4, 2009 - 9:36 pm 9:36 pm

      exactly thank you !

  7. William West permalink
    November 5, 2009 - 12:32 am 12:32 am

    I am 54 years old and you can’t blame marijuana for the problems in the way you raise your children. What child has done exactly what their parents told them? You? The problem is with closed minded people that can’t see it is medication for so many, and because you get a good feeling from it’s use to me is a bonus, the morphine I was given for pain created a habit that was hell to kick. If it were not for medical marijuana I would still be on them to control my pain, although it’s not a cure all, it helps. But to use it to blame kids because they use it, I would worry more about my kids trying cocaine or meth. They are the users you see living on the streets, not many medical marijuana users do and there is a reason for that.

  8. Jerry G. permalink
    November 5, 2009 - 1:41 pm 1:41 pm

    I am a prop.215 patient and I’m also prescribed MARINOL. Where do I go to fill my prescription? The answer is my local STOREFRONT pharmacy. Wal-greens and c.v.s. have it in the store. Marijuana is medicine! Everytime you drive pass the pharmacy just please know that They have marijuana in the pill form in stock in a “storefront” setting. THX

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