The Line Up – The Vape-Master Diaries

“This is surreal,” I finally said out loud. The two female detectives didn’t flinch. Not having been present for either of the two armed robbers, I was allowed to stay as they showed a ‘photo lineup’ of suspects to three employees. Since the employees couldn’t be present for each others ‘line up,’ I was also privy to the detective’s conversations between lineups. I went on, “You see, I’m a baby boomer and for me to be sitting here with detectives from LA and Venice while marijuana is being sold in the next room is, well, surreal!

The smiling glance I received from the LA detective helped break the spell of disbelief while the frown from the Venice detective drew my attention. For the six months as a volunteer ‘Vape-Tender’ I have been freely allowed to partake in medical marijuana while serving the same to patients who ranged from movie stars to street people. My involvement with this three ring circus of West LA characters was less similar to my life as a Licensed Educational Psychologist or the years that I spent in private practice as a psychotherapist. No, this experience takes me back to my Chicago cab driving days at the end of the 60’s.

The Venice detective’s attitude was showing, “You can’t tell me that this gangster has a legitimate medical problem that requires medical marijuana.” It was discovered that one of the armed gunman that hit the Venice store was a former patient. Each patient has a file that is used to identify the patient before allowing them past the security barriers and into one of LA’s 1000 storefront dispensaries, which resulted from the California’s medical marijuana movement. Although this gangster had the presents of mind to grab his file after robbing the store of its cash, marijuana and the employee’s belongings, he didn’t do anything about the 9 video cameras that recorded his face as his Glock’s muzzle sent little clicks into Mick’s ear as it was pressed and released against his temple. The gangster also ignored the fact that the employees recognized him, duh!

“I thought the same about patients until I listened to their stories. Everyone has a story,” I said to her face as it drew up a discussed expression. The first patient that came to mind was a twenty-something male who looked like he was only out to have a good time – until he told me his story. Coming from a Russian satellite country as a young boy he became addicted to Oxycontin for four years after suffering the damage resulting from being a professional boxer. Known as ‘reduced harm’ in Canababble, he found enough relief from using marijuana that he has been free from addictive prescription medication for years now. “Are you trying to tell me that this gangster is nothing other than a drug user?” she said as the LA detective continued her friendly smiling.

Sensing the ‘rigidity difference’ between the two detectives was an opportunity to see some real “good cop / bad cop action”. Although the Volcano vaporizer glowed its red digitalized ‘380’ ready and waiting for its next load of weed, I let the urge to fill another bag fade along with the thought of consuming it like a bag of popcorn during an action movie. Discretion is sometimes better than valor, and there were always a large assortment of marijuana eatables in the next room if this cop drama went into overtime.

Mick had spent some time talking with both detectives and it was obvious that Mick and the LA detective had a mutual LA detective friend. Mick comes from a military family and he has managed to associate with anyone in a position to make a difference when it comes to marijuana. The banter was the type heard in any military or police environment, “Yeah, tell him his ass is mine if he…blah, blah, blah.” This must have put the Venice detective nose to nose with her anti-marijuana ‘tude’ and her mind could be virtually seen tightened up into a tiny dense black hole.

The frowning Venice detective hadn’t considered that many imprisoned criminals take prescribed psychotropic medication. Taking medication, and robbing others by gunpoint, are not mutually exclusive behaviors – an individual can legitimately need medication and still make wrong decisions that have nothing to do with the reasons they take the medication. The idea that an armed robber may have a legitimate injury being treated by a licensed physician didn’t cross her mind – or if it did it would have been crushed to death immediately by her resentment at the prospect of protecting marijuana users from criminal. There just was no difference to her.

Regardless of the personal vibes flowing from the attractive female Venice detective, both officers professionalism guided their performance for the 2 hour vape-room lineups interviews.

Mick didn’t release my first attempt at a press release…


The NoName Collective and LAPD Cooperate to Implement Prop. 215 and AB 420 – Los Angeles, June 22nd 2009

The The NoName Collective (TNC), one of Los Angeles’ original 187 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, received a security analysis by the LAPD after a series of armed robberies expanded to include West LA’s TNC on Thursday June 18th, 2009. TNC, with the cooperation of the LAPD, is making every reasonable effort to fulfill California’s Proposition 215’s mandate to provide medical marijuana to registered patients in non-threatening settings.

Proposition 215 Compassionate Use Act of 1996 was approved by California voters to provide legal immunity for the growing, possessing, transporting and use of medical marijuana by patients on the recommendation of a licensed physician. Proposition 215 also saw fit to include in the body of the law language “to encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.”

Before the passage of Proposition 215 medical marijuana patients had to keep one eye out for law enforcement and the other eye out for gangsters as they faced the dilemma of obtaining marijuana. California voters provided the legal immunity for patients in medical need of marijuana as well as mandating governmental plans protecting patients from the criminal element associated with the illegal drug trade. Patients in medical need of marijuana had no way to avoid associating with dangerous criminals before Proposition 215 and AB 420.

While maintaining their lead in providing quality medication that meets the needs of patients from all walks of life, TNC continues to add security by continuing patient care within safe neighborhoods, ID checks by TNC volunteers before entry to the dispensary, three remote controlled locking security doors, video monitoring 24 hours a day, a well trained group of volunteers and, as always, great patient support. We take our patients and staff’s care and safety as number one priority.

Working together with the LAPD in assessing TNC’s security needs builds greater bridges with law enforcement as improved ways are found to implement the letter, and spirit, of California’s compassionate medical marijuana laws.

Link to L.E.A.P