With a 13-year head start on Michigan, California's efforts to transform marijuana from illicit to prescription drug offers a clear lesson: It ain't easy, reports the Detroit Free Press. The conflict has flared in recent weeks with a new Los Angeles law aimed at hundreds of marijuana dispensaries, many that operate more like drug dens than pharmacies. Michigan bars dispensaries under its 2008 voter-passed law, but communities are struggling with limits on the medical pot business.
Los Angeles would cap dispensaries in the city at 70 with 186 grandfathered in. All must follow tough rules such as observing a 1,000-foot buffer from churches and schools. In Los Angeles County, safety concerns have risen with authorities pursuing charges against sellers whose pot had high pesticide levels. “It's been pretty tough since everyone's been getting shut down,” said Bob Nelson, 58, who uses pot for back pain – one of about 300,000 Californians who find relief they don't get from other drugs. In the upscale neighborhood where Beverly Hills meets L.A., Aaron Bullock, a nutritionist by training, started treating patients with medicinal marijuana two years ago. Skeptical of the benefits at first, he now treats 1,000 patients for ailments from Crohn’s disease to cancer. Many of his customers are referrals from doctor’s offices next door. He welcomes the city’s new curbs on the medical marijuana business. “There are too many stores,” he said. “There are too many in places that if I were a homeowner, they would bother me.”