Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Nevada congresswoman
visits SF cannabis club


Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Nevada), right, smells the different varieties of medical marijuana during her visit to the Apothecarium. Carlos Blumberg and Lara DeCaro look on. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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A Nevada congresswoman who represents Las Vegas came to San Francisco to see first hand how the city's medical cannabis dispensaries operate.

Representative Dina Titus, (D), visited the Apothecarium, one of San Francisco's leading medical marijuana clinics.

Titus's visit was due to a change in policy regarding medical marijuana in Nevada. Voters passed a law allowing medical cannabis use back in 2000 but it's only been in recent years that counties can decide whether to allow clinics.

As of last spring, each city and county in Nevada can now decide for itself whether to allow clinics. Las Vegas is now working out the details for 10 clinics it will open. The state allows a maximum of 10 clinics per county.

"I want the state to learn from someone who has done it right," Titus told Apothecarium staff during her April 16 visit.

Titus also said the federal government should not prosecute people who are following medical marijuana laws in their states. Medical cannabis is legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

"The federal government should not be going after people who are obeying their own state laws," she said, an apparent reference to the U.S. attorney for the northern district of California raiding and shutting down medical cannabis clubs in the Bay Area.

Titus said that she supported Nevada's medical cannabis ballot measure in 2000 and that a ballot measure allowing for recreational pot use in Nevada was now in the works.

"It's getting started up," she said. "I would support it. I definitely support the defelonization of marijuana."

Located on Market Street right off of Church, the elegantly appointed Apothecarium is the opposite of the image so often associated with such places. Spotlessly clean and with a friendly security team at the front door, the club's interior features artwork and crystal chandeliers. A knowledgeable staff works behind the counter to answer clients' questions.

The staff showed Titus many of the products that are available to those who have a medical marijuana card, which can only be obtained by consulting with a medical doctor. Pain management, muscle relaxation, clinical depression, and other mental health issues were among the conditions that could be treated with cannabis products, as well as conditions such as glaucoma and HIV/AIDS. Titus examined products, which included pills, candy bars, and pastries, all of which were made with carefully measured amounts of medical marijuana.

Titus listened intently as she was told that only a doctor could recommend a patient to the clinic.

"I think there's a great need for this," Titus said, noting the staff's knowledge and expertise.

Some staff members are also clients themselves.

"Many of us came to medical marijuana because of our own issues," said Apothecarium staffer Sarah Payan, a stage three colon cancer survivor. She pointed out that cannabis has greatly alleviated the suffering of many people who live with cancer and HIV.

"It's a good way to help people be comfortable in their end stages of life," Payan said.



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