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Posts Tagged 'medical'

Sunset District vs. Medical Marijuana

San Francisco is a haven for cannabis dispensaries. There’s at least one sometimes more in every neighborhood of San Francisco, except of course for the Sunset District. The Sunset District is the largest, most suburban district in the City, so big that it actually needs two supervisors. Katy Tang does the heavy work for the majority of the district, but the Inner Sunset is covered by Norman Yee who also handles the Lake Merced area which while technically isn’t a part of the Sunset District most of the people still sort of add it on as a part of the Sunset. Yet there isn’t as I mentioned a single cannabis dispensary in this area.

That was until recently. The people who run The Apothecarium in the Castro District have teamed up with Dr. Floyd Huen, husband of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to open up a dispensary in the Sunset District at 32nd and Noriega. This hasn’t been sitting well with a few of the neighbors who have been egged on by the Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative, religious rights defender [as long as of course you’re talking only Christian rights] as well as being anti-LGBTQ [which sort of goes along with their religious freedom which of course trumps sexual freedom in their book] and also has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

The Apothecarium is very well run dispensary that tests all of its products quite rigorously and runs their business very much above board following all the necessary laws and rules. They have won awards from various groups for being the best cannabis dispensary in the United States so they’re a pretty top notch business. Dr. Huen is a well respected doctor of internal medicine who teamed up with the people from the Apothecarium with an eye towards additionally serving the Chinese community [as well as anyone else with a proper medical marijuana letter from one of the registered doctors].

Apparently the PJI found out about this and started contacting neighbors and feeding them false information about just want medical marijuana is and does. In the video footage below you’ll see what a good job the PJI did with their fear mongering to rile up a bunch of presumably locals — though that has been called into question — who wouldn’t look much different if they had torches and pitchforks in their hands. The meeting was shut down because Dr. Huen and the people from the Apothecarium never got a chance to speak because they were shouted down immediately as soon as they opened their mouths.

Well, a second chance is coming around. Tomorrow, May 3rd at 6:30pm at the Ortega Branch Library in the Sunset District there will be another general meeting to discuss the proposed location and I urge you to attend whether you’re in favor or against it. Please be respectful and not like the mob louts in the video below.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to say that I do not consume marijuana in any form, yet I think the Sunset District could use a dispensary or two. Sure, there are plenty who deliver, but then again why bother going to the local grocery store when they deliver to? Why even leaving your house when anything you can pretty much hold in your hand could be delivered? I don’t buy that line of thinking. Just like with groceries, people still like to see what they’re going to get before they get it.

The Apothecarium is a very upscale place if you google pictures of it [or see the above picture I posted]. Ace Pharmacy that used to be at the location was a very busy well used pharmacy that I don’t think anything had changed in the store since I can remember. They filled prescriptions and filled a lot of prescriptions. Jerry who was the last of the three original owners retired because he was just too tired to do the job anymore. His partners Sal and Joan [I believe I remembered their names correctly] where smart and got out early. Nothing had changed in the store and it was a bit of a dump to go inside, but it was a clean dump even though there were missing tiles of linoleum on the floor and their copy machine never worked, but they still left it there because they were too busy filling prescriptions to get rid of it.

While some might love the throw gentrification out there because there’s a business going in that will take care of the place instead of letting it rot I think it will help encourage others to do a few upgrades on their storefronts. Carmen Chu encouraged the businesses in that area and even got some funding to have the rotting awning replaced on many of the stores and while it was a small step, it still made a noticeable difference.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are not a place where anyone can walk in and buy drugs as some people have been led to believe. They actually usually look like private clubs in that there’s a doorman who checks to see if you’re on the list and if you’re not you don’t get in. Because of this there won’t be any selling drugs to kids or kids hanging out trying to get adults to buy up for them. The kids will be stuck hanging out near liquor stores to get their fix of Mad Dog 20/20. The risk is too high for them to sell to minors. It’s even worse than selling alcohol to minors.

There is no increase in crime because of the guards out in front which is another line that comes up frequently. Cannabis dispensaries always have very high tech, expensive crime deterrent gear installed because they’re selling a product that’s rather expensive. Pharmacies don’t even have that good equipment and they stock drugs that people could easily overdose on. Although that’s not entirely true since there has been a lot of graffiti spray painted on the place from people who don’t like the idea. I haven’t seen any lately so I guess their can of paint ran out.

I do think the location is a bit odd though. Noriega Street between 30th Avenue and 33rd Avenue has become a very heavy Chinese shopping area. It’s like Chinatown in that area with few exceptions. Heck even the Middle Eastern owner of a cigarette shop up the block speaks to his Chinese customers in Cantonese. If I was going to put in a dispensary I’d probably be looking at the new La Playa micro-hood out by the beach on Judah. Cool waves and a cool buzz, it kind of makes sense in a Jeff Spicolli kind of way, but that being one of the hot new areas of the City the rent is probably going to be much higher.

So at this point my thoughts are to give it a chance. I’ve written to Katy Tang and given her my thoughts as well as forwarding this article to her.

NERT: It could save your life

NERT, or Neighborhood Emergency Response Team is a free service provided by the San Francisco Firefighters to help train the public in how to deal with emergency and disaster related situations. Other cities have Community Emergency Response Team classes, but San Francisco, being a bit different focuses on the type of disasters we are most likely to encounter. I haven’t heard of a hurricane ever hitting San Francisco, but earthquakes are up there at the top of the list and this is a good way to get training on what to do in case you’re hit by one or any of the other problems that could crop up with or without an earthquake such as fires, medical emergencies, etc.

My wife found out about this first and brought it up to me because I always used to test her by yelling GET DOWN NOW! and watch her ask me, why? I’d politely remind her that if she had to question me when I yelled a line like that she might end up dead. I can be a bit smug at times and I know that it wasn’t exactly the right situation to make that most effective. Since I had been a Boy Scout and gone through all of this before I figured it might be fun to have a refresher course since it was free as well. There are six classes you take totaling 20 hours. It’s not really that hard or time consuming and it’s definitely not a boring class. You have to be re-certified every couple of years, but that’s just having to take the last two courses.

Well, it turns out what I learned as a Boy Scout isn’t what you’re supposed to do anymore. We were always taught the first thing you do when someone has a severed limb [how many of us have ever been in that situation?] was to apply a tourniquet. Turns out that’s not the best thing to do since you could end up making the person lose more of the limb by killing off blood flow and you should always apply direct pressure until medical professionals can get there.

Remember standing in a doorway during an earthquake? WRONG! It’s actually best to get up against a way because if the ceiling drops in chances are pretty good that a portion will fall at an angle leaving you with a safe place. I also got to learn things I had never thought of before such as teamwork in a situation when some is trapped under say a fallen telephone pole or a car. This was also the first time someone had lit a controlled fire and handed me an extinguisher and told me to put it out. These are handy tips to know and the best part was at the end we got our yellow hard hats and orange safety vests. Yes, some of you might think at times that those outfits look a little dorky, but if something bad comes down like another ’89 earthquake you’ll be glad to see these people. I could go into more detail, but it’s best to get your information from the NERT website.

Healthcare Reform

Today I’m going to step away from San Francisco a little bit. What I’m going to talk about concerns San Franciscans, as well as everyone else in America. Whether you think you do or not, we all need health care. It doesn’t matter how old you are health coverage is a must. My old employer referred to health insurance as a “crap shoot” you have it so that if you might need it you’ll have coverage.

Then I had a stroke a few months later at 37 years of age. Luckily, I had coverage. I was now given a host of pills to make sure everything was going to be fine with me and it turns out it is. Now most of the drugs are generic so I can get them cheaply without insurance, but there’s still one drug that’s not generic that will be costing me $200/month without insurance. If I go to my doctor I pay $30 for the visit with insurance, without it would cost me $75. What happens if I don’t have insurance and happen to have another stroke or I’m hit by a car [which happened to me when I was 16]. Where do we get the money to pay for it?

Yes, I agree Doctors and Hospitals and Big Pharma need to bring their costs down to the consumer who needs their services, but insurance also needs to come down and be available for everyone. I was paying $428/month for insurance for my family of 3 due to a COBRA subsidy by the government that ended December 31st, 2010. Now I am being told that in order to keep this insurance I would have to pay $1695/month. So I’ve had to look elsewhere for insurance coverage. Luckily I’ve found some and I’m hoping we’ll get accepted.

Now our good friends on Capitol Hill have drafted a Healthcare Reform Bill that went into effect as of March 31st of 2010. Since everyone likes numbers I’ll offer up a few from the analysis of the bill:

Cost: $940 billion over ten years.

Deficit: Would reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the first ten years. That is an updated CBO estimate. Their first preliminary estimate said it would reduce the deficit by $130 billion over ten years. Would reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion dollars in the second ten years.

So while a lot of you will look at the cost first and see $940 billion dollars which is a scary amount, you have to look at the $143 billion we’ll also save over the first 10 years with another $1.2 trillion dollars saved over the next 10 years. OK, 20 years is a long time for the pay off and interest to come back, but it will also give healthcare to everyone in America. If you are on a low income you will be given subsidies and the “doughnut hole” for the fixed income Medicare patients would be removed.

Sounds pretty good right? Well apparently not according to John Boehner our new Speaker of the House who faster than a speeding bullet, announced that the House will vote on January 12th to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform bill. Apparently our new speaker doesn’t want us all to have access to health care. I would like to urge all of you to read up on this at healthcare.gov where you can find the truth about what’s going on with this bill.

IF you believe that John Boehner is incorrect in trying to get this repealed there is something you can do. There is a group called Mom’s Rising who have put together a petition via the web to send emails from people to government officials telling them you do not support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. All you need to do is give them you name and email address.

Some of you may disagree with me on this, but if you or a family member have an “pre-existing condition” which has a lot of things included you wouldn’t believe [got migraines or are on any medication?], you could be denied insurance or forced to pay a higher rate even if the treatment is inexpensive. If you just want to get your child covered? Most insurance companies won’t take on a child alone. I have a friend who has had to leave the US to live in Costa Rica because he has diabetes and was having to pay $200/month for his medicine which costs him about $20 there. Just think about this for a little while and do some reading at the links I supplied.