Road Trip: In Search of Good Medicine - Pure Life, West L.A.
On the heels of continued raids by the DEA of four legally run
in Los Angeles, West L.A. dispensary owner Yamileth Bolanos
is pretty much at the end of her Hemp rope, so to speak.
who is founder and owner of Pure Life Wellness, has been at the
forefront of cannabis activism in the city of Los Angeles, where
were threatened with closure by city officials.
the creation of GLACA, the "Greater Los Angeles Cannabis Alliance,"
Bolanos, with other longtime dispensary
owners, banded together to
create their own entity in order to deal with the powers that be, driven
by the philosophy that "strength in numbers" matter.
founded GLACA in 2006 to help create ordinances on how dispensaries
should behave, because the city would not instate ordinances until
2010," Bolanos said. "Those who were operating safely and were
respectful of their neighbors needed a way to differentiate from
profiteers who did not care about patient safety, or were otherwise
problematic in their behavior."
to a few Los Angeles area dispensaries
had this savvy dispensary
patient concerned, as the environment in some definitely had a little
too laid back feeling, in my humble opinion. Rumor has it an Armenian
faction - a strong demographic in the Los Angeles area - has a corner of
the city's cannabis market.
But in my mind,
any product that has the capacity to make a good deal of income would
attract a business-minded, entrepreneurial faction - or those who may
want to capitalize on a good thing. This is America and there is nothing
wrong with that - it's what we were founded on. It's also a pretty good
argument for legalization, but that's another essay.
challenge with the gangsta mentality is, rules aren't followed, and in
this industry rules must be followed, because that one bad apple can
spill decades of progress upon the proverbial floor.
once visited a now-closed dispensary in San Francisco with a friend who
did not have a 215 card. The dispensary
not only let him in, they
allowed him to peruse the selection. They then allowed him to sit in the
lounge and smoke. Yup, that's right. I was appalled, did not say who I
was, and was not surprised to read that the highly respected, longtime
was raided and closed some months later.
Doing the Right Thing
is why GLACA was created, and why invitations to join come with
guidelines - as all dispensaries
and collectives partaking must have
been operating for a minimum of five years, operating in compliance with
local and State laws.
The highly organized
trade organization lobbied the LA City Council extensively for
ordinances - creating the first batch themselves, only to be ignored by
the council in the final round.
"We went to
both Sacramento and the Federal Congress to lobby on behalf of our
members," Bolanos said. "Perhaps the best example of the positive impact
we've had is that all of the City's three ordinances allowed GLACA
facilities to remain open, while ordering those with lesser experience
DEA Smash & Grab
is until January 9, when Federal Agents ignored not only
state-sanctioned compassionate care laws, but completely disregarded any
affiliation with GLACA -- raiding two longtime members, LA Wonderland
on West Pico Boulevard, Iron Works in Venice Beach, and non-affilliated
DTPG on South Hill Street near downtown, as reported by Don Duncan of
Americans for Safe Access.
must stop!" Bolanos pleaded in an e-mail just hours after the "smash and
grab" raids were finished. As is the mode of operendi, security cameras
were smashed, cash and all forms of medicine was taken - with no
receipt left behind, as is the procedure. It's important to note that
they left after padlocking the doors, with no arrests made - another
safe place for patients off the list.
Begging for Safe Access
two-time cancer survivor and liver transplant patient, Bolanos knows
firsthand the importance of safe access in obtaining cannabis as
medicine. Born in Costa Rica, where contaminated water creates a high
incidence of liver problems, Bolanos said she was one of the unlucky
"The medication you take every day to
force the body to accept the transplant is quite toxic," Bolanos
explained. "Additionally, you have no immune system and no way to fight
off infection, which is its own set of problems. One of which is a skin
cancer, which I have been treating with critical concentrate, and am
happy to report has drawn 'inconclusive results' from the last 'bite' or
Over the Counter, Not Curbside
misconception that stoners only frequent legally run dispensaries
been a thorn in this writer's side for a sometime now.
NORML's (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) own Secretary Allen F. St. Pierre was recently quoted calling dispensary owners "Moonshiners."
Wondering if St. Pierre has ever really met a dispensary
owner who began as a patient. Peruse this series and you'll find many, Mr. St. Pierre, respectfully.
After my last series of essays on curing my own cancer with cannabis here in Toke of the Town,
I received myriad correspondence from needful patients - not stoners -
from literally all over the world, asking for the cure -- including
Romney-voting Republicans asking how they can "legally" obtain this
I can't stress enough the importance of legality when it comes to healing with cannabis.
patients will not seek medicine on the Black Market - they would not
know the first thing about it. They will obtain a card to do so,
legally. They will go to a dispensary and purchase tincture, oils,
salves - even leaf co-operatives, and anything else that will help their
pain. They won't grow it themselves - most Americans don't know the
first thing about growing their own food, let alone cannabis.
I flew into Los Angeles from Humboldt I couldn't bring my medicine with
me, albeit tinctures and salves. It was of the utmost importance to me
to locate a good dispensary and purchase medicine that I could be
assured was safe. For me, that means organic bud, tincture and edibles -
preferably made from cannabis grown outdoors in the sun.
Getting stoned is secondary - still enjoyed, but when I'm not feeling well, I need the meds... period.
sorry it took illness for Bolanos to get involved in providing good
medicine to Angelenos, but I'm eternally grateful for her work and the
creation of GLACA. It shows that cannabis patients can take care of its
own, get organized, and support each other in these dark DEA days.
Life Wellness is located at 1649 S. La Cienega Blvd., West Los Angeles.
For more information, call (310) 246-9345, or visit its Web site, www.purelifealternative.com
. For more information about GLACA, visit its Web site, www.glaca.net
. For information on safe access visit, Americans for Safe Access on its Web site, www.safeaccessnow.org