Feds: S.F. medical marijuana system 'a joke'

February 24, 2005

Adriel Hampton, San Francisco Examiner

Despite widespread public approval for medical marijuana, plans to regulate its sale in San Francisco still violate federal law.

Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman Richard Meyer said a lack of raids in San Francisco does not give vendors a license to sell pot.

Meanwhile, 30 medical marijuana clubs -- with names such as The Vapor Room, Love Shack and The Kind Sanctuary -- advertise on The City's Health Department Web site. Bud Box Deliveries even provides house calls.

"The whole system is not only being abused, but it's a joke," Meyer said.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said The City has to acknowledge the clubs are a thriving business, adding that officials must "figure out a way to regulate and benefit" from medical cannabis.

Drug legalization activists said there is a reason the DEA has been soft on medical cannabis in San Francisco: public perception.

"Every time [DEA agents] bust a club that has support of local officials, they risk a huge backlash and more and more stories in the national press that are unfavorable," said Dan Abrahamson, director of legal affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

The federal government's last high-profile medical marijuana raid here ended with a jail sentence for cannabis guru Ed Rosenthal, which lasted one day.

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