It was only a matter of time before race would show its skunky head in the debate over marijuana in California.
While L.A. dispensaries have been robbed, people have been murdered, and Mexican supply lines have long been suggested, George Mull, president of the California Cannabis Association, recently pulled out the race (or, perhaps, racist) card, suggesting that pot shops are like distinguished wineries and only minorities smoke weed from Mexico.
This is what he told the San Francisco Chronicle recently:
" ... People of color are only slightly represented" at medical marijuana gatherings. Mexican weed, he said, is "often is aimed at inner cities, particularly youth."
"Your typical Berkeley intellectual ... is very unlikely to cross paths with the Mexican cartels. It just doesn't happen."
The observation is at the heart of medical marijuana in California, where dispensaries that were supposed to be nonprofit places where patients could sell homegrown weed have become for profit centers of designer strains of bud.
The pot shop scene needs to separate itself from cartel-like crime if it is to be seen as successful enough for the next step: Full legalization.
Already there are forces in the state that want to end the nonprofit farce for pot shops (and attorney Mull is one of the proponents of the change).
The Chronicle waded into the debate over the weekend, noting old figures from Santa Monica think tank RAND, which concluded that full legalization wouldn't, as proponents suggest, put cartels out of business, but could reduce their current take by up to four percent.
RAND says the cartels get up to a quarter of their income from marijuana. Federal figures suggest that marijuana headed across the border increased 44 percent from 2005 to 2009 -- the years that the pot shop business exploded in California (with some claiming in 2009 that there were more dispensaries in L.A. than there were Starbucks).
But the Chronicle also notes via DEA spokeswoman Sarah Pullen that most of the weed in L.A. is locally grown. At the same time, cartels have gotten into the high-grade, federal-land grow business in recent years. (Is that locally grown, or no?).
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We like the good stuff in L.A., the report seems to conclude, and L.A. is the pot shop capital of the nation.
Either way, there's no need to get racial about it. Nearly one out of every two people in L.A. is Latino, so we're going to assume here that some people of color smoke good weed somewhere in the area (possibly, Mr. Broadus?). Some might even own those very pot shops.
Right, NJ Weedman?!