Medical cannabis, although legal to use in California, is not as easy to obtain as some may think. Unlike doctor prescribed medication which is readily available at the local pharmacy, medical cannabis is neither recommended nor prescribed, and therefore isn’t available for purchase as a prescription. It requires a different distribution and production method.
To achieve medical grade and maximum therapeutic efficacy, cannabis must be carefully cultivated under strict lighting, watering, and maintenance schedules. Medical cultivation requires both expertise in cultivation and hefty equipment setup costs.
The vast majority of the 40,000 estimated medical cannabis patients in San Diego don’t have the expertise, time, and often money required to cultivate the medication themselves. The law, in order to solve this problem, allows patients to associate with each other for the purposes of cultivating and distributing the medicine as well as allows for a cooperative style distribution method where reimbursement for reasonable costs associated with cultivation is allowed. Patients who need a caregiver to take care of them also may have the caregiver cultivate or obtain cannabis for them as part of their care giving duties.
The cooperative model is well represented by the People’s Coop in Ocean Beach, where farmers come together to provide fruits, vegetables and other products for other members of the coop to purchase.
The opposition, which finds itself in power in San Diego both at the County Board and District Attorney’s office, understands the difficulties and expense associated with cultivation and has taken a new approach on shutting down safe access. They now directly target these state authorized distribution systems by shutting them down for what is legal under state law; patients providing medication to other patients in exchange for the costs associated with cultivating the plant.
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