Fourth of July at L.A. medical marijuana farmer’s market (photo: Agence France-Presse)
A lot of Los Angeles residents spent the Fourth of July weekend getting baked in the heat, most in the conventional Southland sun-worshipping way. A smaller, though no-less enthusiastic crowd did it in a less-conventional manner—at the first medical marijuana farmer’s market to be held in either the city, the county, the state or the world.
The magnitude of the accomplishment might depend on what you’re smoking.
Thousands of people lined up for hours on Friday through Sunday to flash their medical marijuana cards and gain entry to the California Heritage Market where the West Coast Collective dispensary arranged for 20 to 50 vendors to display their wares. Growers, bakeries, collectives and others were spread out at the 15,000-square-foot open-air structure.
“We're trying to show a different way of running this industry,” market director Paizley Bradbury told LA Weekly. “Cut out the dispensaries, who have control over how this experience is regulated.” She told Los Angeles Magazine, “By removing the middle man, patients will be getting medicine direct from vendors for what is essentially a wholesale price.”
Bradbury said that her lawyer assured her that everything they were doing was perfectly legal and has indicated the market will continue all summer. Beverly Hills Cannabis Club founder Cheryl Shuman, who helped promote the event, is quoted at Breibart.com (admittedly not the best source for marijuana news) as bragging that, “It took us just ten days to get this together.”
Speed may have been of the essence—and forecasts for a summer of love on L.A.’s East Side a tad premature—if the authorities have not vetted the market in advance. LA Weekly said it did not get a return call from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office when it made inquiries last week.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has been sending people to jail the past two years who became involved in the medical marijuana business after being reassured by their attorneys that they were on firm legal ground. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.
Federal authorities say a coherent statewide legal structure for medical marijuana is a pre-requisite for them to back off their aggressive behavior. The introduction of a first-of-its kind medical marijuana farmer’s market may not help fulfill that requirement.
California voters legalized marijuana in 1996 for medical use and authorized dispensaries in 2004. Some local jurisdictions have banned it, with the state Supreme Court’s blessing last year, and local, state and federal courts are considering myriad cases about various aspects of the drug’s use.
Los Angeles has been cracking down on pot shops since residents passed Proposition D last year, limiting the number of legal dispensaries. The Los Angeles Times reported that a city building inspector stopped by the market on Saturday and issued an order that it’s warehouse, now being used for retailing, needed a change-of-use permit.