SFSOS opposed to medical marijuana, or just NIMBY?

Hi guys,

  I am very disappointed to hear that SFSOS is seeking to stir up North Beach residents against the Green Cross cannabis dispensary before its new location there has even opened.

  Bruce, you once told me that you became acquainted with libertarianism while working for Freedom Communications, parent company of the Orange County Register, and that you thought we were "good on most of the issues."

  Is enforcing the "War on Drugs" one of the issues where you part company with the "live and let live" approach? The U.S. government has been waging war against cannabis and other drugs for decades, spending untold billions of dollars without making any noticeable dent in demand. What it has done is created a black market that has brought violence, unreliable and sometimes unsafe products, and an ever-expanding criminal justice system to handle the world's highest incarceration rate -- which of course means less money for parks, schools, roads, and other things SFSOS members desire.

  SFSOS supposedly stands for quality of life. But for many San Franciscans, quality of life is greatly enhanced by having access to marijuana. Do you really want to deny people, including those suffering from AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses, this access, or force anyone who desires the plant's healing benefits to frequent less safe parts of town? You know perfectly well that *any* clinic seeking to open in a relatively well-to-do neighborhood in San Francisco is going to result in the usual NIMBY song-and-dance about it being an "unsuitable location." Do you intend to be part of this problem, or do you want to be part of a solution? If SFSOS's sophistication on this issue goes any deeper than catering to the NIMBYs and/or the drug warrior morality police, perhaps you should help find the Green Cross a decent home instead of simply being obstructionist.

  Do you realize how much time and effort, between busybody neighbors, restrictive municipal regulations, and fearful landlords, has already gone into finding a new home for this dispensary? Well guess what? If you and your members succeed in making the hurdles for people seeking to operate dispensaries in accord with state law unduly prohibitive, people who want to play by the rules will eventually give up, and marijuana sales will just go right back to the streets -- unregulated and uncontrolled. If you prefer to deal with it on that playing field, it'll cost you a pretty penny in extra police resources, court costs, and prison space. Is that what you want? If not, your letter could have fooled me.

  I also predict that if you manage to get the San Francisco city government involved in the marijuana distribution business by hosting clinics on its property, as the anonymous SFSOS member urges in the letter below, your members will come to regret it. Didn't you learn from your time among libertarians that government programs, once started, have a nasty tendency to grow and take on a life of their own, producing all kinds of troubling consequences unforeseen by their original supporters?

  I challenge you to tell San Francisco exactly where SFSOS stands on the medical marijuana issue. For instance, where should clinics be located? How many should there be? Remember, the fewer locations, the more "disruptive" traffic at each single location! Should they only be allowed in parts of town that currently have high crime levels? If so, what will your message be to the people who live in those neighborhoods? Exactly how much money are your members willing to pay in higher taxes to cover the cost of the increase in crime that always comes when you increase the size of a profitable black market, which is what will happen to the extent that any additional restrictions on the city's cannabis dispensaries cause their sales volume to decrease and the amount of cannabis sold on the street to correspondingly increase? Or do you figure that since most of your members live in more affluent parts of town, it won't be their problem? Are you sure you'll find the pleasure of not looking down your block and seeing a cannabis dispensary sign worth the higher taxes you'll pay and the extra stress of living in a city with higher rates of violent crime and worrying when you might be risking your safety by being in the "wrong" neighborhood? We'd really like to know!

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