Vendor’s reefer sadness

The LA Times reports on municipalities wrestling with the growth of the medical marijuana trade and how this trade should be conducted:

Kevin Reed launched his medical marijuana business two years ago, armed with big dreams and an Excel spreadsheet.

Happy customers at his Green Cross cannabis club were greeted by “bud tenders” and glass jars brimming with high-quality weed at red-tag prices. They hailed the slender, gentle Southerner as a ganja good Samaritan. Though Reed set out to run it like a Walgreens, his tiny storefront shop ended up buzzing with jazzy joie de vivre. Turnover was Starbucks-style: On a good day, $30,000 in business would walk through the black, steel-gated front door.

Today, the 32-year-old cannabis capitalist is looking for a job, his business undone by its own success and unexpected opposition in one of America’s most proudly tolerant places. Critics in nearby Victorian homes called Reed a neighborhood nuisance. Although four of five San Francisco voters support medical marijuana, the realities of dispensing the contentious medicine have proved far more controversial.

It has been 10 years since California approved Proposition 215 — the Compassionate Use Act — becoming the first state to define marijuana as a medicine. The 389-word act aimed to ensure seriously ill Californians the right to use marijuana. But it said nothing about how they might get the drug — and left ample regulatory ambiguity.

Today, about 200,000 Californians have a doctor’s permission to use cannabis, which they can obtain through more than 250 dispensaries, delivery services and patient collectives — 120 of them in Los Angeles County alone. Medical marijuana, activists say, has become a $1-billion business.

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