By Jack Castle
Medical marijuana is medication people depend on for various ailments and Prop D may have a significant impact on how or if patients will continue to have access to medical marijuana. Susan Lever, 28, actress, said that medical marijuana is the only remedy that will help her chronic panic attacks. After seeing specialists and psychiatrists for years she turned to medical marijuana.
“Unlike Xanax and Klonopin that only work for so long, medical marijuana has been the one thing that has been able to keep my anxiety at bay and not addicted to benzodiazepines,” Lever said.
Sam Humeid is the CEO & President at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical cannabis dispensary located on Ventura Boulevard, in the heart of Studio City. Shortly after registering, divergences in state and federal laws forced the landlord to cancel the lease leaving his patients without a safe harbor for medication.
In 2010, Los Angeles City Council passed
most stern regulation. The city regulated zoning, hours of operation, ensured dispensary management did not have criminal records, including other rules. Humeid has made sure to comply with all requisites and has been very active at City Hall to prove the lawfulness and eagerness to collaborate with lawmakers. Perennial Holistic Wellness Center is the first dispensary registered in Los Angeles Council District 2 and the fourteenth dispensary registered in Los Angeles. Councilman Paul Krekorian even came to do a personal visit of the new store.
Almost 63 percent of voters supported the limit-and-tax option, known as Proposition D, in a May 2013 election. Prop D limits dispensaries at the 135 stores that registered before the 2007 standstill and which increases business taxes on their procedures to $60 per $1,000 in gross receipts, up from $50. Humeid was asked about his thoughts on Proposition D and said he was very frustrated with the outcome.
“The City Council took clearly what was the easiest way out in the most offensive possible way to go,” Humeid said. “They went on the offensive to clearly eliminate medical cannabis and safe access to it in Los Angeles, in one fell swoop.”
According to the City Council, the ban will take effect 30 days after the mayor signs it. Once the ordinance goes into effect, the city will send out letters to 762 dispensaries registered to pay taxes to the city notifying them of the new law and asking for agreement. The city will then ask a judge for closure orders, starting with the “bad actors,” the dispensaries that have generated the largest volumes of complaints from residents.
“My patients are up in arms. Absolutely up in arms,” Humeid said.
Nicole Hersh, 25, surgical assistant, said she depends on her medication to help her various ailments.
“I’ve suffered from extreme insomnia my entire life and I rely on this medication [marijuana] every night, just to get a decent night of sleep,” Hersh said.
Humeid said his principal problem is being grouped in with “weed shops.” He stressed that Perennial Holistic is not an establishment for people to come and get a discount product to show their friends.
“Look what I got, this is the coolest stuff in the world!” Humeid mimicked, in a lively voice.
Humeid said that out of the dozen medicinal marijuana storefronts in his vicinity, bulks are “weed stores.” He described these shops as being very lax on the regulations, very free on whom gets to come in.
“They don’t care about the product [quality] as long as they make their bottom dollar.” Humeid said.
Humeid went on to separate his shop from the weed stores. He said he provides to a demographic of 30 to 40-year-old females, who are reputable, and who were not known to be common or consistent cannabis consumers before signing up at his place. Humeid said his patients are pursuing another way to cure their pain.
“They need something systematically different from what they’re getting from their pharmaceuticals. They end up coming here explaining their situation to us: they suffer from fibromyalgia, have lupus, are going through cancer or menopause… you name it,” Humeid said. “And they know they can come to a store like mine and get actual, factual advice that’s going to guide them in the right direction.”
Challengers of the ban voiced it will be catastrophic for patients with terminal illnesses who cannot grow marijuana on their own because it is costly and requires extensive training. Ash Ortiz, 21, budtender and student, said that unless trained, it is difficult to actually grow your own marijuana for some people.
“Terminally ill patients, patients with limited mobile abilities, or knowledge in general, will find it nearly impossible to get the medication that is right for them,” Ortiz said. “Just like you wouldn’t expect someone to know what prescription medication to take, how much, and for what ailment.”