Talking Medical Marijuana Blues – Part Two
That’s No Way To Get Your Medicine
There was a time, not very long ago, when I would often have to wait for days, sometimes a week to get my medicine. Sometimes nothing would be available from the few friends I knew, who knew a friend, who knew a friend who could get marijuana for them.
I guess that’s a pretty tolerable situation if you’re just buying marijuana for recreational use, just as a weekend kind-of-thing… but horrible for someone who really uses it as a medicine.
Can you imagine a diabetic having to do this to get insulin?
Of course, you could make your own insulin – if you know how and can afford the manufacturing process…
Grow Your Own
I wish I could grow top-grade marijuana, but I’m not very good at it. I know because I tried for a whole year.
In California our Attorney General has issued guidelines for medical marijuana to try and help clarify some of the legal issue within the state. One aspect of these guidelines was to set the personal plant limit at 6 mature plants OR 12 immature plants.
I set-up an indoor grow several years ago for only 5 plants, just to be safe and stay below the limit.
I got 5 Mr. Nice clones (Mr. Nice is a “double-indica” strain that produces short marijuana bushes – very good for an indoor grow like mine) and built a small 4’x6′ grow closet complete with medical marijuana stickers and labeling to make sure it was all identifiable as a medical grow.
I loved my little grow. I learned all kinds of stuff about nutrients and pest control, PH balance and watering schedules – I was into it. I invested over $1000 to get it all set-up and running. I was going to prove to myself that I had a green thumb and could grow my own medicine.
The first crop I grew ended up being so-so. I tried not to be too disappointed, but… I was. I thought to myself, “that was just a learning period – now I really knew what I was doing…”
Crop number two was even less impressive, and when I switched strains after the second crop and grew something else, I ended up with some pretty low to mid-grade medicine and became thoroughly disillusioned with the idea of myself as a “self-sustaining grower of my own medicine.”
I dismantled the grow closet and turned it into an art storage rack, gave all my grow equipment to the collective I belonged to at the time, and since then I happily rely on professionals to grow my medicine.
The Benefits Of Being A Collective Member
Here is an excerpt from a posting a couple of years ago on The MMJ Project:
Being in a collective creates an opportunity for them [the collective] to purchase the herb for a larger number of people, lowering the prices for everyone involved…
Of course, to start, you need some people to put up large amounts of money as capital for the collective and those who keep a eye on the business side of things, making sure all the bills are paid on time and that everything is kept financially legal – like in any business.
Other people bring different talents, skills and time to the collective and get compensated for their contributions – and often it’s comes as below cost or free herb – a benefit that helps keep the medicine bills in check – all the volunteers at AAC [the collective I belonged to at the time] are also medical patients.
Still other people are members of the collective who just come by to pick up their herb and they pay what is needed to help cover the costs…
All the different levels of involvement are important and needed.
But the most important part is that the goal is a sustainable model with ever lowering costs instead of a huge profit goal with ever higher investor returns and excessive wealth. A collective, like a co-op, is for mutual benefit of all it’s members…
So what does it cost to buy marijuana at a collective?
I started going to medical marijuana collectives in 2007, four years after I got my first medical marijuana recommendation from my Kaiser psychiatrist.
At the time I would pay around $70 for a decent “eighth” of marijuana. An eighth is 3.5 grams – and if you figure a joint is around .5 to .7 grams, then an eighth will provide about 5 or 6 joints.
Because I could use one joint for two different times of “taking my medicine”, I was paying about $6 per “dose” of medicine.
I had a friend, who had a friend, who could get me a “quarter”, or 7 grams, for around $100, but I never knew what I’d get, and how good it would be for me. The collective had over a dozen different strains to choose from, so I went there whenever I could… but it gets really expensive, very fast.
Currently my daily use can be up to about 2 grams a day – during deep depressions- and more during periods of hypo-manias, so you can imagine how expensive this medicine was…
At the collective I go to now, the same quality medicine would cost only $35-$45 for an eighth, but most of the medicine is much better than I could get just 4 years ago.
Since 2008 I’ve become a volunteer at most of the collectives I belong to, taking photographs of the different strains, helping with the website and generally contributing whatever skills I can to help offset the cost of my medicine.
The Uphill Battle And The Casualties
Unfortunately, over the last few years I’ve watched collective after collective crumble under the weight of legal fees and having to always fight to stay open.
I’ve watched people with the best hearts and purest intentions lose thousands of dollars while just trying to do the right thing for patients, ending up in debt and burned-out from all the struggle.
I’ve also learned that there are some amazingly self-serving individuals that see this industry as just another potential cash-cow for themselves. That’s pretty typical in any industry I guess.
But more often than not, the people I’ve met have been good, kind people that would just like to make a decent living and be a part of something positive at the same time. Fellow patients helping other patients.
Reality – 2012
Medical marijuana has a consistent approval of over 70% of Americans, and in Long Beach, where I live, people are even more sympathetic to medical marijuana. I rarely meet someone from Long Beach who is against either medical marijuana or the existence of collectives in the city. Most people don’t even notice them.
But, despite that reality, our city council is deciding this coming Tuesday, January 17th, on whether or not to ban all collectives in Long Beach.
I assume they would prefer that all of us patients either grow our own (you see how that worked out for me) or go back to the black market and the days of waiting for a friend of a friend to make his delivery.
Taking Action Now!
At this time I’d like to shamelessly plug the LBCA – the Long Beach Collective Association and their website because they are working very hard to Stop The Ban on Tuesday. (Disclosure: I worked on the website)
Visit their website, call one of our city council members and voice your support for medical marijuana. I happen to live in the Third District, so you can call my council member, Gary Delong.
Next: Talking Medical Marijuana Blues – Part Three – Talking ‘Bout My Medication
Talking Medical Marijuana Blues – Part One
Includes the story: The Man On The Other Side Of The Wall