As news comes of the enforced closure of over 500 LA medical marijuana dispensaries, it seems timely to take a look at how patients can legally access medical marijuana through dispensaries and collectives.
What are Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?
The fact is that very few users of medical marijuana have the knowledge, the space or, in fact, the desire to cultivate their own supply of medication, neither can they find a caregiver to grow it for them. Therefore, most medical cannabis patients obtain their supplies from what is officially known as a Medical Cannabis Dispensing Collective (MCDC), otherwise known as a dispensary.
A typical dispensary looks just like any other store but it will operate with a closed membership, allowing only patients and caregivers to obtain cannabis from the facility. Membership can only be approved when the patient’s documentation has been verified or, where relevant, on the production of a medical cannabis registration card. In some states and cities it is legal for the patients to self-medicate on the dispensary’s premises. Many dispensaries also offer services such as counseling and legal workshops.
Why do Patients Need Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
For patients without the resources to cultivate their own cannabis, dispensaries offer safe and legal access to a medication that proliferates on the illegal market and which, therefore, comes with the baggage that obtaining illegal drugs entails. The theft and violence that often goes alongside the use of illegal drugs is bad enough if one is healthy but is intolerable to those who are weakened by ill health. And, of course, the majority of citizens are law abiding and would never contemplate obtaining their medication illegally. Lessening the illegal trade in cannabis also has the knock on effect of making the city a safer place to live for everybody and not just the marijuana patients.
A dispensary is often far more than just a supply facility, however; in many cases they also offer a social support system that the patient cannot find elsewhere. Dispensaries also allow for a pooling of information about other support services available in the area.
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Public Safety
It is a fact that the dispensaries reduce crime and improve public safety. In fact, in his 2006 Staff Report, Proposed Ordinance Regulating Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, the sheriff of Kern County, Ca, noted that “existing dispensaries have not caused noticeable law enforcement of secondary effects and problems for at least one year. As a result, the focus of the proposed Ordinance is narrowed to insure Dispensary compliance with the law.”
Dispensaries and Private Collectives are Not the Same Thing
This is an important point to note. Private patient collectives, where members of the group grow and share their cannabis do not have – and should not have – the same restrictions placed upon them as a retail set-up, which is, in effect, what a marijuana dispensary is.
There is now a free iPhoneapp for USA residents which locates legal medical marijuana dispensaries in your local area.