Medicinal monopoly

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Hey, what the hell is going on with the medical cannabis industry in Oregon and Washington?

—Wes Coast

Business and politics. The Washington State Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 5052, which will force all of the medical cannabis clubs in Washington to close so that the recreational clubs can take control of the market. The law also decreases the amount of cannabis a medical patient can possess, and the amount of cannabis that they can grow. This law is dumb and it is an insult to all of the medical patients that supported recreational legalization in Washington because they were told that I-502 (the initiative to legalize cannabis in Washington) would not affect medical cannabis users.

Down in Oregon, the cannabis patients are in a pitched battle with a legislature which is trying to do the same thing as Washington’s. A concerted and effective effort has succeeded in getting some of the most egregious rules changed, but they have a long way to go.

This is one of the things I dislike about unbridled capitalism. The people in charge of regulating the new recreational cannabis market want to make sure they maximize their profits, because duh. In Washington, a gram of recreational weed will run you about 20 bucks, while a gram of medicinal cannabis is about 10 dollars, even if it’s the same strain grown by the same people. Of course, the people who only see money want to make sure that everyone pays the highest price possible. But why mess with people who really need cannabis for their health? We need to make sure that any new California recreational marijuana law recognizes and supports sick people’s rights to access safe, affordable cannabis. Remember that this whole push toward recreational cannabis legalization was started by allowing safe access to medical cannabis for qualified patients. We must continue to show compassion and put patients first.

I am headed to Vegas in a few days. Is it true that my California letter of cannabis recommendation is good in Nevada?

—Jack Pot

Yes and no. While the new law allows California cannabis patients to possess and purchase medical marijuana from Nevada dispensaries, there are some hoops to jump through. And if my recent encounter with the police department in Carlin, Nev., is any indicator, Nevada has a long way to go. The cop pulled me over for having expired tags on my rental car. (I am currently discussing this issue with the rental car company, but if I am unsatisfied with their response, I will name and shame them.) I got a ticket for $740 (possession of less than an ounce) and they sent me on my way. Ten years ago, I would still be in custody and looking at serious jail time. I will leave you with what one of the cops said to me as I was standing there in handcuffs while they searched my car: “Next year, all this stuff will be legal anyway.” I really hope he’s right.