Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Suzanne Herel, Chronicle Staff Writer
Published: Friday, April 1, 2005 - Page B - 1
Copyright: 2004 San Francisco Chronicle
Contact: [email protected]
San Francisco, California -- Elvy Musikka lives in a pot-smoker's dream:
She's one of seven people in the United States who receive pre-rolled
marijuana cigarettes each month from the federal government as part of a
No wonder she was smiling Thursday, hobnobbing at the Cathedral Hill
Hotel in San Francisco with hundreds of others who share her quest to
legalize the leaf.
Through Saturday, the hotel is the place to be for marijuana
enthusiasts, as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana
Laws holds its annual conference in what the organization's Web site
calls "America's most hemp- friendly city."
The scent was pungent, the dress casual to hippie and the faces friendly
Thursday outside the conference rooms, where tables offered novelties
such as Oaksterdam sweatshirts for $27, $5 hemp-shaped lapel pins and,
of course, matches and cigarette lighters.
Richard Lee, who runs the SR71 medicinal marijuana dispensary in
Oakland, was selling the Oaksterdam gear. "SR71 was the first stealth
plane and, until recently, the highest flying plane," he said. "Mine is
the highest flying coffee shop."
Lee's is one of just four medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Oakland,
where officials decided last year to weed out the city's share of
medicinal pot clubs.
Meanwhile, at least 37 pot shops call San Francisco home, and the Board
of Supervisors this week voted to ban any new ones until it devises a
way to regulate the existing dispensaries. Under Proposition 215, passed
by voters in 1996, it's legal to use medicinal marijuana with the
recommendation of a doctor in California.
Federal law enforcement officials, however, think differently, as they
are duty-bound to enforce U.S. anti-drug laws that contain no such
exemption for cannabis. Among the attendees at the NORML conference were
Angel Raich of Oakland and Diane Monson of Oroville (Butte County), who
sued the Justice Department following government drug raids of medicinal
marijuana co-ops. The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to issue what is
expected to be a precedent- setting ruling any day now in the case that
should settle the federal and state law conflict.
Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, said it was exciting to
land in town at a time when medical marijuana is on the political
Referring to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who started his day Thursday
officially welcoming NORML to San Francisco, St. Pierre said: "When
someone like Ross sticks his hand out and says, 'We want to work with
you. We want to do things differently' -- we have arrived."
"I gave them a hearty welcome on behalf of the city that helped birth
the medicinal marijuana movement," said Mirkarimi, who introduced the
ban passed Tuesday on new pot clubs in San Francisco.
His comments drew a standing ovation. Afterward, he said, "I was being
offered various baked goods; I received a couple of T-shirts and hats
made out of hemp -- I declined the baked goods, by the way. It was very
Sixty-five-year-old Musikka, who was born with congenital cataracts and
uses her federally supplied marijuana to help relieve pressure in her
eyes, said she had tried the drug 25 years ago at the urging of a doctor
even though she was afraid of its effects.
Now, she said, "It's the fountain of youth. There isn't even an aspirin
in my medicine cabinet. There is no need. I smoke it, eat it -- I'll use
it topically as well if I hit a doorknob or something and think I'll get
a bruise. "
And she wants to spread the word.
"To arrest an adult for choosing the 'wiser bud' is the epitome of
hypocrisy," she said. "To arrest a patient for using the Creator's work
Fortunately for the NORML attendees, there weren't any arrests Thursday.
Lee, of SR71, and his companions who took a break to light up outside
the hotel were just part of the landscape of the joint.
Related Articles & Web Sites:
Angel Raich v. Ashcroft News
Green Rush Fever - AlterNet
Cannabis Cure - North Bay Bohemian
Cutting Through The Haze