Hundreds of locals rely on medical marijuana to ease suffering
Because the Paso Robles City Council deadlocked, 2-2, on whether or not to ban mobile medical marijuana dispensaries at its meeting on July 15, the issue is coming up for a vote again tonight.
For some locals, the issue is personal. A ban of mobile dispensaries in Paso Robles would mean that patients served by a handful of collectives and dispensaries would have to drive at least two hours to a walk-in dispensary, drive to a city where mobile dispensaries are not banned and conduct the transaction in a parking lot or get marijuana through illegal means.
A manager at one of the collectives serving the North County, said the collective has many patients in Paso Robles who are bedridden. While some of them have an official caregiver, which is designated by a doctor, some do not and would be unable to get their medicine. The manager, Ryan, asked that her last name not be printed in this story.
She said her medical marijuana collective serves about 1,500 patients in the North County; between 700 and 1,000 on a monthly basis. These patients suffer a variety of ailments, such as cancer, brain tumors, glaucoma, fibromyalgia, insomnia, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and pain, to name a few.
Ryan herself is a patient. “I was severely depressed,” she said. “I went to psychologist and got prescribed anti-depressants.”
While on anti-depressants, Ryan said she attempted suicide. She realized that the anti-depressants were not working for her. It was then that she found medical marijuana. While she still suffers from depression, it’s better than it was without medical marijuana and certainly better than when she was on anti-depressants.
Mike B. of Paso Robles, who asked that his last name not be used, is a disabled veteran due to an injury he sustained in combat. He suffered a spinal injury and found that traditional pain relief was not working for him. “Cannabis brings me a variety of relief,” Mike B. said.
Mike receives his relief via a local collective’s mobile dispensary, which is the only kind of dispensaries allowed in the county since walk-ins have been banned throughout the county and local cities. He said he prefers having his medicine delivered rather than going into a walk-in facility. He said that if he had a choice between going into a dispensary and having it delivered, he would choose the latter.
“We could have store fronts, which I don’t want,” Mike said, adding that there would be additional issues with having a store front. As it is, he said that his medical marijuana is delivered by a well-groomed person in an unmarked vehicle. His neighbors, he said, have no idea what he is having delivered and that no one would know that he uses medical marijuana to relief his pain.
He said he hopes the council does not ban medical marijuana dispensaries as it would drastically impact how he gets his medicine.
Ryan said that one argument people give for banning dispensaries is that people can get it from the pharmacy, but, she said, pharmacies are unable to dispense medical marijuana, so the only choice patients have locally is to get it delivered. She said that her collective — and many others — dispense edibles and tinctures that can be vaporized for those that are unable or unwilling to smoke cannabis.
“There’s compassion; there’s help,” Ryan said. “It’s not about getting weed, which is what you’re going to get on the street.”
An unscientific poll conducted over the last week by the Paso Robles Daily News shows locals oppose a ban on mobile dispensaries by more than 3-to-1. See the poll results here: Should the city ban mobile marijuana dispensaries?
The council will discuss and vote on whether or not to ban mobile medical marijuana dispensaries tonight during its regular meeting that starts at 7:30 p.m. in city council chambers, 1000 Spring St.
The request to not use last names or the name of the collective was granted due to the precarious nature of medical marijuana collectives and dispensaries in the eyes of the law. While the current presidential administration is choosing to not enforce federal medical marijuana laws in states such as California where medical marijuana is allowed, that could change in the future.