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“Many have difficulty traveling very far, and to make someone travel 10, 15, 20 miles or more to get their medicine is inhumane. For some who are forced to take public transportation, such a trek could easily take up to half of a day.” – Charlie Imes

An Open Letter to the San Diego Board of Supervisors


By Charlie Imes


June 29, 2010 (San Diego) – I am a medical marijuana patient. I wasn't using marijuana prior to my diagnosis and emergency surgery in 2001 for stage 3 colon cancer. I had complications. I almost died a few times; the chemo almost killed me, too. I've had subsequent abdominal surgeries for diverticulitis, then later for a ruptured spleen, and finally for a severe abdominal hernia related to the previous surgeries.


Doctors were only too happy to prescribe serious narcotics, which came in handy while I was in the hospital and in intense pain, but afterward... as I healed up... I still felt pain and considerable discomfort. To continue taking these narcotics was like using an elephant gun to kill a mouse. I don't like being that drugged.

Meanwhile, I decided to see how marijuana worked in dealing with my pain and discomfort, and I found that it was quite effective and allowed me to function like a normal person... something which the Vicodin, Oxycontin and Demorol did not. I was able to work and think clearly. The misinformation about marijuana that has circulated for years is astounding in its' disconnect from reality.


But this isn't about complete legalization, although that will probably happen soon enough. This is about access for patients who need relief somewhere between the pain that we suffer, and the doped up world of pharmaceutical drugs.


I feel that my status and medical condition, and that of tens of thousands of other patients, have little to no effect on you. You just don't seem to care. You're more concerned about some "boogeyman" than you are about doing what's right. I've talked to those with opposing views to mine on this subject. I have yet to hear a cogent, intelligent, fact-based argument from any of them. And I've tried.

I'm writing with regard to the zoning ordinances that you're considering regarding Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in San Diego County.


It is my understanding that the proposed ordinance(s) would effectively eliminate all of MM Facilities from operation in the unincorporated areas of the County. This would be a mistake, harming patients who are suffering, and WOULD NOT protect the public, children, families or whoever you're supposedly protecting, from anything.


Let's look at this logically.


I've heard testimony from some parents that they don't want MM Dispensaries anywhere near their neighborhoods, schools, churches, etc., because they don't want their kids to get their hands on marijuana. This is a fallacious argument. MM Dispensaries have requirements. One must be of the proper age of consent (adult), have the required doctor's paperwork, must register with valid government-issued identification, and they must show that ID every time they come to the dispensary to acquire their medicine. They're most strict about controlling access to marijuana than liquor stores are about controlling access to beer & wine. EVERYBODY must show I.D. and be registered with ANY SPECIFIC DISPENSARY that they wish to acquire medicine from. In other words, the high school kids can't just walk into a dispensary and get marijuana. It's CONTROLLED.


Enacting this ordinance will do NOTHING to stop street dealers from selling to kids. I'm afraid that anyone who thinks that it will, hasn't a clue to how street dealers and dispensaries work. I've even asked police officers how many times they've busted a dispensary for selling to minors or people without the proper paperwork. I have yet to find an officer who has made even ONE such arrest. But even if ONE such arrest is ever made, that would be a law enforcement issue on a single citizen or business. That does not implicate the entire industry. We all know that some liquor stores get busted from time to time for selling alcohol to underage people, but we don't want to hamper anyone's access to liquor. How hypocritical is that? Much more harmful... liquor. Tons of studies back that up. Kids have much easier access to alcohol too. How many of you keep liquor in your homes? Never mind. Just wondering.


So here's the point: Enacting this "1,000 feet from homes, churches, schools, parks and other dispensaries" ordinance will only hurt the patients who need it. Don't assume everyone can travel across the county to get their medicine. That would be an uneducated assumption. Many have difficulty traveling very far, and to make someone travel 10, 15, 20 miles or more to get their medicine is inhumane. For some who are forced to take public transportation, such a trek could easily take up 1/2 of a day.


The Zoning Ordinance for MM Dispensaries should be no different than that of a pharmacy. I support Compassionate Use, and urge the B.O.S. to include the following Zones as allowed uses:


Medical Center Commercial-C46
General Commercial-C36
Office Professional- C30
Heavy Commercial- C37
Convenience Commercial-C32
Freeway Commercial- C44
Service Commercial-C38
Rural Commercial- C40


I thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. I hope you find some compassion and do the right thing.


The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact

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