TV Station Goes Looking for Hard Drugs in Ocean Beach But Finds Only Weed – It Was ‘Worse’ in Sixties and Seventies

by on November 26, 2019 · 18 comments

in Ocean Beach

We love making fun of local TV stations. Especially when they whip into OB chasing down the latest controversy or scandal, usually having to do with people who are homeless or drugs – or better yet – both. The newscasters often project a total lack of institutional memory when they report on the latest, but they certainly know the expression “Ocean Beach is in the news again,” will turn heads towards thousands of TV sets across the city.

So it was last week when reporter Dan Plante from KUSI News set up his camera on the OB Pier and fashioned the latest scandalous story from his own hometown – the rampant and open use of drugs by the Ocean Beach Pier.

And Plante was looking for not just pot, but meth, coke, oxy and everything else. He and his camera people took stills on people doing drugs right there on the beach, next to the sand berms, or near the wall. And then KUSI published them on the nightly and daily news.

But guess what? They only found weed. That’s right, the only drugs being consumed that day – or at least out in the open – was the ol wacky tabacky, cannabis, marijuana.

Plante has residents saying ‘this is the worst it’s even been’, and his written report stated:

Now that pot is legal in California, the wanderers are flaunting it. Even though it’s still illegal to smoke in public, they don’t seem to care. … Even though this kind of thing has always been a subtext of Ocean Beach, the blatant use and sale of drugs in the open is fairly new.

(His video report was a little more hysterical.)

Hey – we have news for Dan – it was “worse” in the late Sixties and Seventies. Believe me. And by “worse” I mean more open, more blatant – and I wish to retract any negativity. It was what it was.

Drug use – mainly pot – has been synonymous with “Ocean Beach” for decades. That’s where northwest OB got the nickname, “the War Zone,” due in part to the rampant drug use and sales in the corner of the neighborhood. But the beach was particularly vulnerable in those days. What surfer wouldn’t come in from the challenges of the waves and rest on the sand enjoying a joint. Who didn’t take late night walks on the Pier smoking a joint?

Ocean Beach was one of the major drug centers in San Diego, especially for white people. People would stream into OB to get their high and retreat to the more reactionary confines of the rest of the city. Drugs and the counter-culture went – and still does – go hand in hand. (Why did you put counter-culture in quotes, Dan?)

Now, of course, there are plenty of valid concerns about the use of the hard stuff – (no, not that brown hard liquid stuff) – the meth, coke, heroin and oxy. Whether taken in the open or not, these substances suck the life out of their user, and their open use is certainly an ugly sign of addiction, and we should be concerned with our neighbors going south with addictions. It’s a medical issue.

And good citizens of OB, like Mark Winkie, president of the OB Town Council, have a right to be concerned. Due to the lack of substantial and sufficient response by our various levels of government, his community is inundated and its residents and businesses victimized by the lack of adequate resources.

And sure, who wants to have their kids – oh, also the tourists – see all this? Not a good scene for the little ones. And, of course, it’s bad for business – unless the tourist is actually looking for drugs themselves. So, yes these are genuine concerns.

Often, however, the concern over open drug use is a euphemism for concern over how the community looks with all the people who are homeless everywhere. Another TV station took this approach recently with the headline: “Some embarrassed by homelessness in Ocean Beach during bodyboarding festival.”  Yet 10News could only quote one resident complain about it: “It was terrible. It was like looking at LA’s Skid Row right under our pier.”

You know when your city has the fourth highest homeless population in the nation, there’s gonna be lots of people on the streets. And at the beach, and under and near the pier, and by the river. And yes, many of them take drugs and alcohol. Until we as a society figure out how to house all of our people, there will be people living on the streets and sand. We cannot continue to criminalize homelessness and when we have our politicians and police push them off the streets, they have to go somewhere else, so don’t be surprised when they show up in sunny and warm OB.

The station’s report about people being embarrassed during the bodysurfing contest, did conclude with an upbeat tone:

Spectators and athletes seemed unfazed by the issue.

“You just try to go with the flow here and try not to let them bother us too much, it’s getting pretty bad,” said Ryan Ohr, a competitor from Huntington Beach.

“I personally don’t mind it because it is OB, and it is a part of the world no matter where you go, there’s people from all walks,” supporter and local Kristen Brantley said.

The folks who ran the bodysurfing contest didn’t seem to mind either. In fact, the competition’s director signed the permit for next year’s competition in the middle of the gig. In one year, it will happen again – on Nov. 21-22, 2020 at the same location. OB. Home of the counter-culture.

Sorry, Bill, to take the shot. But people have been smoking weed openly in OB for over half a century.


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Parish November 27, 2019 at 12:31 am

being near the beach is very conducive to smoking pot – loved OB and the bars and walking in the fog – was very happy there a few years


Monica Rodriguez November 27, 2019 at 12:07 pm

Too bad they didn’t see any other types of drugs being used. I guess it would have added a little bit more fulfillment to their story.
But I have my own story, having worked on Newport between Abbott and Bacon, for 9 + years, I have seen other drugs being used. I have cleaned up needles, I have cleaned up orange needle caps, I have cleaned up human poop, vomit and piss. I have had to deal with customers under the influence of a lot of other things, more dangerous than pot.
I’ve had to deal with people yelling and screaming at themselves and at inanimate objects, crawling around on the curbside in front of the store where I worked, exposing themselves, cussing and spitting.
I wish it was only pot that has run rampant in Ocean Beach.
I think if the writer of the article we’re to spend a 40 hour work week, on Newport avenue, they would have a little bit of a different view.
I guess a long time ago it was a lot worse down here. But this is now, and comparing it to back in the day does not justify what is going on now.
I am embarrassed. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m a resident of this town. But mostly I’m sad.


triggerfinger November 27, 2019 at 12:16 pm

You really have no business mocking Mr. Plante’s effort to shed light on the serious drug problem we have here. Nobody here cares about weed. We have violent and unstable addicts occupying and dealing and living in and trashing our park spaces. I’m sorry Mr. Plante wasn’t able to capture all that in that moment, but the locals experience it on a daily basis.


Frank Gormlie November 29, 2019 at 2:22 pm

Tough crowd. Have you totally lost all humor?


triggerfinger December 1, 2019 at 1:08 pm

I doubt a single resident in OB finds humor in the current drug/enforcement situation.


Frank Gormlie December 1, 2019 at 6:31 pm

Well, we certainly know where you – ol’ anonymous one – stand.


Joe November 27, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Homeland stole my bag while I was swimming. In its place they left crackpipe. It’s bad news place


Dr. Jack Hammer November 28, 2019 at 7:41 am

Did he expect people to be gobbling bags of pills and shooting up on the sidewalk? What a jack-a$$!!!!! His hyperbole and personal commentary were too much. If he lives here in OB, he’s either part of the problem or part of the solution. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a broadcast news piece that bad…


Amy November 28, 2019 at 8:35 am

Actually he’s not a jack ass, but he is a dear friends husband. Stay kind folks


embo December 1, 2019 at 7:31 pm

He is a jackass!


D December 5, 2019 at 10:03 pm



sealintheSelkirks November 29, 2019 at 6:11 pm

Actually, when I walk into many people’s houses I see DRUGS being used routinely, and when I walk down the street there are drugs being ingested CONSTANTLY everywhere I look. By all age groups. Addictive drugs. Brain altering drugs.

Everybody hates meth it seems, and it sure visibly messes up people’s lives, but nobody says much about the other psychoactive speed drug being given to babies and toddlers and slurped up constantly every day. Can we say ‘Gateway Drug’ for meth?

Everybody loved Cocaine Cola and its competitors, yes? Still do since they are sold worldwide. But what happened when the US outlawed that wonderful S.A. drug added to the colored sugar water that was being used by millions of people in this country? Why, of course, find a substitute that addicts said the big corporation owners! And they didn’t even change their name; it’s still Coca though it should be Caff Cola don’t ya think?

I see moms giving this crap to their babies, dads buying supersized versions for 9 year old kids, teens slurping this stuff down like…addicted drug users! And the parents ‘start’ their day with what, two or three cups of cafe almond mucholado latte booya delight which they say they just ‘can’t get going in the morning without.’

Methheads, caffeineheads, same desired effects but one is illegal and the other isn’t.

An anecdote: My 75 year old retired biologist teacher neighbor tried to stop drinking coffee a few years ago. The effects of a lifetime of using drugs and going into withdrawal was startling, at least to him.

During the first week of his self-imposed rehab he called AARP to ask WTF, and the 3rd or so question the representative asked was “Have you had any seizures yet?”

But addiction to speed does that… He went back to 2 cups in the morning, everyday, for the rest of his life. But he went vegan…go figure!

Any of you b*tching about the now drug scene happen to be around when the Peanut Butter Crank from the bikers in the late 60s/early 70s was flooding the beaches? The biker skirmish/alley wars in OB over who controlled that crap (MB, too, actually)? And how about the 25,000 unit bags of crosstop mini-amphetamine being sold from ‘lost’ military stores or the huge bottles of military-grade Black Beauties (handed out in Vietnam for ‘jungle patrol duty) that were coming out of Balboa Naval and wherever else that ended up on the beach streets? Boy did those get your heart-rate going, eh boyos?

Should we talk about the drug alcohol now? With all those pushers (bars) and drug-making chemists (microbreweries) popping up everywhere shouldn’t SOMETHING BE DONE? Hell they’re getting as bad as Starbucks with the outlets for speed!!

How’s the cannabis legalization going by the way?



SanSeattle December 1, 2019 at 8:03 am

Uhhhh, are you really trying to compare soda and coffee to meth?


sealintheSelkirks December 1, 2019 at 2:08 pm

HA! No SanSeattle, I’m not.

What I am trying to obliquely point out is that we are a drug-using society (and historically as a species) and that snarling at people who go too far over the edge and get lost is not what we as a society should be doing. Nor is criminalizing a medical condition like addiction. Nor beating them up, ostracizing, public shaming, tar & feathering and ‘running them out on a rail’ by gangs of local thugs who think they aren’t part of the same species etc etc. Those ‘OTHERS’ we are so afraid of are just like us.

I’m thinking of the drug users called alcoholics in my family as I grew up that were wonderful funny nice people when they weren’t drinking but turned into raging monsters when they were…and they all had jobs that supported themselves and they could decide to spend their money on luxuries like a recreational drug called booze…

We need to stop demonizing these fellow humans and take the money out of ‘enforcement-demonizing’ and put those billions to good use. Jails and prisons are NOT GOOD USE of our tax dollars for a medical problem. Excepting of course those wealthy investors that say privatizing prisons are good for their bank balances…

Decriminalize like Portugal did years ago, and follow their example and invest the money taken from enforcement (less cops less prisons) and put it into education and free & effective (key words) rehab that has completely turned their society around in the decades since they made that step. That would be a wonderful first step in our own fellow citizens don’t you think?

Getting to that point…too much profit in demonizing obviously. Far easier to act like a Bronze Age mentality and whip out the sword while screaming ‘BACK YOU DEMON!’ Unfortunately we have caveman reactions with nuclear capabilities that thread throughout our interactions with the rest of our specie in all categories of life. I’ve been called a ‘idealist’ before on the Rag…

But Portugal made the leap why can’t we? They actually showed they cared for one another. How…amazing is that?



Danny A December 5, 2019 at 10:06 pm

You are my hero


sealintheSelkirks December 7, 2019 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for the thought there, Danny A, but no I’m just an old OB/MB surfer dude who tries to think out of the box…



triggerfinger November 30, 2019 at 2:18 am

Big difference between people with jobs who support themselves deciding to spend their money on luxuries like recreational drugs..,, and people who are occupying park space all day begging/dealing/stealing to get their drugs.

And if I pass out it won’t be next to a pile of vomit and garbage on your doorstep.


Danny A December 5, 2019 at 10:00 pm

Life is but a flicker of light appreciate the things in which positive vibes will ignite – Counter Culture Supporter


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: