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Rooting for Weed

Readers hit the blogs last week and got all flustered over weed. Dennis Romero wrote a handful of blog posts covering recent issues surrounding L.A.'s marijuana dispensaries. The one that struck up the most chatter was about a Skid Row dispensary closing down (Oct. 20). The Green Day Collective (no affiliation with the punk band) was forced to close its doors because of its proximity to multiple rehab centers.

Commenter YEAH WAY writes: "As anybody who's ever smoked weed would know, the two phenomena of people who blaze and people with crippling substance-abuse problems are clearly separate issues. Nobody who smokes weed exhibits the violent, antisocial behavior of crackheads, meth-heads, heroin junkies and alcoholics; in fact, many would argue that marijuana has proven throughout history to be an effective treatment for dependencies on other, far more damaging substances and has alleviated far more suffering than it has ever caused. Targeting a medical marijuana clinic on Skid Row is a far less sensible action than targeting any liquor stores in the area, yet you don't see the bureaucrats attempting to shut them down."

Matt Lewis writes: "Awesome! Now they can open a Dave & Buster's or a Disney-themed store in that spot. I also believe it is illegal to loiter on the street, shoot heroin, commit indecent exposure publicly and be publicly intoxicated.

"This sounds like strictly a money grab/shakedown by the city, and not any safety or quality-of-life improvements. Freaking weak!"

A reader by the name of Lightnapper responds: "Don't forget the 'aggressive' panhandling, jaywalking, littering, felonious assaults, muggings, burglaries and blatant 'crack-whore' prostitution.

"Based upon the logic of 'The Man,' the main misfits in this social debauchery are all medical marijuana cardholders or the actual dispensary owners themselves. We all know how much disposable income the homeless have, especially for self-medication."

Another pot story that received a slew of comments revealed a marijuana advocacy group's plan to protest President Obama's visit to downtown L.A. (Oct. 21). California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) protested outside the downtown federal building on Oct. 24 to voice its opinion against the recent Department of Justice crackdown on weed dispensaries. They believe Obama is going against his campaign pledge to not use the Department of Justice to go around state laws on marijuana. (See this week's feature story, "Obama's War on Weed," by Ray Stern.)

Douglas Eames writes: "The attorneys general in California said the idea to crack down was all their own? Isn't Obama in charge of the executive branch of the government? Isn't he responsible for overseeing the activities of the Justice Department? Either he has lost control of his cabinet or Big Pharmaceutical just made their 2012 campaign contribution."

A commenter who goes by "women shoes" writes: "With the current Republicans blocking federal government from working, it's hard for the president to tell the Justice Department to stop harassing pot smokers. At least without Republican tirades saying the president has no power to stop unjust laws from being enforced."

One commenter didn't take exception to Obama's crackdown on weed, opting to slam the Weekly instead. Sublimis writes: "Dennis Romero, you're an idiot. The protest is about the shutting down of medical marijuana, not a bunch of recreational drug users. Your use of puns and sophomoric humor is not a laugh to those who are suffering with cancer and other illnesses. Maybe do a little research on the subject. Unless of course the L.A. Weekly is about idiotic 'journalism.'‚ÄČ"

The final cannabis-related blog post revealed the retraction of a study that originally stated crime was lower in neighborhoods near weed dispensaries. The nonprofit research think tank RAND, based in Santa Monica, commissioned the report and had to withdraw and then eventually retract the study because it failed to take into account LAPD crime statistics (Oct. 24).

One reader thinks outside pressure, not faulty research, was the cause for the retraction. Commenter lamedicalmarijuana writes: "Correction: RAND pulled its controversial September study of L.A. marijuana dispensary crime off the shelf for good after concluding that it could not handle the political pressure from the L.A. City Attorney's Jane Ushner.

"First you have the L.A. city government backpedaling on its claim that it shut down dispensaries. ... Did the government effectively shut down the dispensaries when it sent out its notice to close? At the time the L.A. city government was telling us that most of these dispensaries closed. Why is L.A. changing its story now after the RAND report was released?"

And Alex H. DeLuca writes, "I think the RAND Corp. smelled federal grant money going up in smoke if they didn't retract it."

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