- Christopher Smith, Publisher
SAY San Diego is Mad, Mad, Mad About Cannabis
My story today comes from THE TIMES OF SAN DIEGO, and it’s an opinion piece from a non-profit group called SAY San Diego – the S-A-Y stands for “Social Advocates for Youth.”
The Group was formed in 1971, the very same year that Dick Nixon declared the War on Drugs, followed in 1972 by the Drug Enforcement Administration and 1974 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). I mention these connections because the very first item on SAY San Diego’s “Core Services” is “Alcohol, tobacco, and substance abuse prevention.” It all seems to tie together nicely with this headline:
“Opinion: Fact Checking Misleading Claims
that California’s Cannabis Industry Is Suffering”
The article begins, “Words matter. Facts do, too.”
Uh oh, shots fired... I can almost hear the pages of my grandmother’s Bible flipping in the Kansas City breeze.
The opening of the SAY article is a checklist of civic-minded organizations who are on fact-patrol.
There’s NIDA: “This adherence to the truth inspires National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, an annual observance dedicated to inspiring a civic dialogue about the science of drug use and addiction among youth… launched by scientists at NIDA…”
And we have the Public Health Institute – founded in 1967 – and their #1 item is “Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs & Mental Health”.
“Getting It Right From the Start”, a “nonprofit cannabis policy think tank”… whose first item is “Protecting Youth, Public Health & Equity In Cannabis Regulation”
So all the do-gooders are lined up on one side against guess who? “This year, National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week collides with an alternative universe created by Big Cannabis.”
Hey Grandma, we’re famous! They think we’re the Big Bad Wolf with a Darth Vader soundtrack.
And what’s got their youth-protecting fact-checking panties in a twist? An article “Opinion: Local Restrictions on Marijuana Dispensaries Fuel Growing Illegal Market” or, as they call it: “Exhibit A in Big Cannabis’ onslaught of misinformation.”
THE DEEPER DIVE
The Big Bad Article explained that when California legalized Adult Use in 2016, it allowed municipalities to “Opt-Out” of having cannabis businesses BUT IT ALSO allowed them to opt-out of medical dispensaries that were already open. “Thousands of medical shops were shut down across the state”, leaving only about 800 licensed dispensaries for the whole state of 33 Million people, or about 2 for every 100,000 residents. Oregon Washington and Alaska have 7, 9, and 10 times as many, per capita.
I’m pretty sure the source of that data was the famous article in Politico, “California’s Legal Weed Industry Can’t Compete With Illicit Market”, which quoted data from MJ Biz Daily.
WELP, the Do-Gooders are mad, mad, mad about all of this.
They’re mad about this: “And yet, today, there are fewer licensed retail outlets in the state than there were in 2015.” They’re mad because they say medical dispensaries don’t count as retail outlets. I’ll bet Walgreen’s and CVS are gonna be pissed when they hear that.
They’re mad about this: "Legal cannabis sales are declining, and an emboldened illicit market is growing.” They’re mad because there’s no way to determine the actual size of the illicit market, so oh my god how can you say that? (Their argument against "declining sales" seems fair enough: OVER SEVERAL YEARS, overall sales have certainly increased BUT that's not what the Big Bad Article is trying to explain - the disconnect is over the time frame: the Big Bad Article is focused on the current trend and problems with California's retail bottleneck.)
They’re mad about this: “Despite popular approval of Prop. 64, only 85 of the state’s 500 municipalities allow retail cannabis sales.” They’re mad because they say the numbers are wrong, wrong, wrong, there are TWICE AS MANY dispensaries, or ONE for every 26,000 people. He said, she said...
THE LOOP BACK
ODDLY, that’s SAY's whole game: He said / She said about the number of dispensaries in California.
Their article proves absolutely nothing, makes no salient point about policy, or suggests any corrections that can be made in the real world to make it safer for youth or for patients, workers, investors, or business owners, by the way.
It's useless noise.
... that ends with the following sermon: “National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is a reminder of the fragility of truth in the hands of people who place the prerogative of profit before the power of us.”
Here's some truth: Grandma, your grandson is a weed smoker. But I’m betting that God’s Favorite Plant grows in heaven, and we can twist one up when I get there.
But don’t wait up, it’s gonna be a while before I get there. The propagandists are keeping me busy.
Image source: David Garrison for Pexels