Good news for all you caffeine-adverse medical marijuana users out there, courtesy of the federal drug czar (We know. How often does that happen?)
There are more medical marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco than Starbucks Coffee shops. Or at least, so says the Office of National Drug Control Policy in a posting on its official blog, pushingback.com.
Seem a little far-fetched? It sure looks that way.
The feds contend there are 98 marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco, compared to 71 Starbucks Coffee shops. They even provide a Google map mashup showing the supposed locations of both.
But their numbers don't add up, and medical marijuana types are peeved.
First, the map is not click-able, so you can't zoom in to determine exact addresses. Even so, there appear to be dispensaries listed in highly improbable places, like two on Leavenworth between California and Clay streets -- a section at the top of Nob Hill sporting Victorians, a couple of corner stores and a laundromat, but no apparent pot for sale.
San Francisco's Department of Public Health, which issues permits for medical marijuana dispensaries, is also befuddled by the federal data.
"It was extremely incorrect," said Larry Kessler, a senior health inspector at the department. "I don't know how they got that."
DPH lists 24 dispensaries in the city that either have permits or are trying to obtain one.
The federal drug office says their information includes those dispensaries, plus dozens more that are unregulated yet easily findable through a Google search.
"This is information that is readily available to any teenager," said Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He called the state's medical marijuana law "essentially a fraud that's been perpetrated on the people of California" because of the potential for abuse.
But when asked for the data used to create the map, Lemaitre provided a list with 74 entries for marijuana dispensaries, not the 98 claimed.
He said some alternative medicine-type spots were removed from the list because the feds are actually unsure if they sell pot.
Of the 74, six of them don't list addresses in San Francisco. Five of those say they offer marijuana delivery service to the city, while a sixth is in Los Angeles.
Of those with city addresses, some are clearly marijuana dispensaries, like The Vapor Room on Haight Street. But other listings include 12 Galaxies, the Mission District nightclub that closed in August, and businesses with defunct Web sites and phone numbers that just ring and ring.
The data also has at least one double listing. It includes both ACT UP, the AIDS organization that used to run a dispensary at 1884 Market St., and Market Street Cooperative, which currently operates the dispensary at that location.
Lemaitre said it's difficult to get precise data on "the illegal drug business."
"Drug dealers and proprietors of medical marijuana dispensaries aren't kind enough to provide us with their sales data and operating locations," he said.
Bottom line though: the data the feds turned over listed less than 71 actual marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco, meaning Starbucks wins.
Venti cappuccinos for everyone.
November 17 2008 at 09:08 AM|