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Publisher’s Notebook:

The SMC Associates, an organization designed to help with the good work Santa Monica College is accomplishing in our town, had a very special guest speaker last week. The annual membership reception held at Rand headquarters featured Warren Olney from the “Which Way, LA?” radio program. The minute he began to speak, his all too familiar voice filled the room with warmth and enlightenment. Olney told us of how his program began with the riots following the Rodney King verdict. Olney had just retired from his TV gig when the head of KCRW, Ruth Seymour, asked him to come on the air and start asking questions. At the time, the city was in the grips of a Bush Sr. depression, fires, floods, and earthquakes had just hit, and now we were experiencing riots. It was indeed time to ask, “Which Way, LA?”

Olney says that in the subsequent 15 years he has interviewed over 20,000 people (which is why he has a hard time remembering names), and most likes to interview people he disagrees with. His penetrating and clearly understood questions are a delight to hear, and the ongoing conversation and discussion with Angelinos helps our city communicate. It is a valued and critical component of the dialogue that helps to shape Los Angeles. I was born at County General and went to LAUSD schools and listened to local newscasts that included Olney. He, and people like recently departed Hal Fishman, help bring the community together. My hat’s off to Michael Rich and Iao Katagiri for once again being such gracious hosts, and to Judy Nuveau for her boundless energy and hard work toward making Santa Monica College a school to be proud of.

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What can one possibly say about our city forester once again becoming a lumberjack? The plans to cut down the beautiful ficus canopy on 2nd and 4th Streets is just awful. But I have seen it before. I recall the beautiful canopy at the Main Street parking lots that were somehow and somewhere uprooted to the airport, sort of like those Science Fiction movies where the people get moved to happier homes only to see them later being chopped up into soylent green. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…thank you Joni Mitchell.

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60 Minutes did a hatchet job on medical marijuana the other night. They criticized how easy it is to get a prescription for medical marijuana, yet made no comparison to how simple it is to get one for Valium, a more widely prescribed drug. Is there recreational Prozac? If people feel stressed in our modern world and MJ helps them to relax, then why not allow them to have it. Any good doctor can see the benefit of a drug that allows for almost instant relaxation and in a method that allows the patient to regulate the usage. The story ended by having one of the subjects in the piece claim the current system is just “chaos.” It seems to me the only thing chaotic is the Federal government’s randomness in attacking dispensaries. They made it seem as if West Hollywood was one big dispensary. Any casual drive through that part of town will quickly reveal the paucity of dispensaries compared to the usage demanded by the public. In fact, you can hardly find one. More worrisome to me would be the amount of fast food shops there are in town, as they are a much greater risk to health.

Santa Monica will have to soon come to grips with its own formula for allowing medical marijuana farmacies. The city’s planning department is currently drafting rules for just such a thing. The DEA may head them off at the pass, though, as they are on a new kick, threatening landlords or property owners where dispensaries exist. How rude can you get? They have been “told” that Santa Monica does not want dispensaries. Uh, did anyone check out the poll booth? Seventy-three percent voted in favor of medical marijuana. I think there is more than a consensus here.

There are still a couple of prudish members of the City Council who, despite the overwhelming support of the public on this issue, hold out the false belief that they can ultimately prevent dispensaries from opening. The best approach I have seen so far comes from those that dispense medical MJ along with other homeopathic, naturopathic, or herbal-type drugs. In the end, the city will formulate rules that will allow a dispensary to sell this product as its primary purpose. I find this method of distribution far more civilized then having to acquire the drug in a back alley, or from people who have other harder drugs to sell with it – that is where the real danger lies. These clubs sell quality merchandise with great variety, mostly organic, and in forms for ingestion as well.

For the record, I do not smoke or eat or ingest marijuana. I like the smell and enjoyed the drug, but it has been many years since I imbibed, and, as odd as it sounds, medical reasons prohibit me from using it now. Most important to me is the public’s right to enjoy it without arrest and imprisonment. In addition, I like the fact that, as the State’s largest cash crop, it allows people to live on the land in our more remote parts of the State, bringing a healthy balance to those economies. I do oppose poaching on public lands – those people are dangerous.

Michael Rosenthal

Publisher

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