Most people have a routine when they turn on their computers, whether it's checking their e-mail, reading the news or…ordering pot?
Artists Collective, a non-profit California medical marijuana delivery service, is now Twittering out its goods, and all it takes to get high is a doctor's note. They've got everything from brownies to blunts and the delivery is free. Rather than whispering "weed" to passersby, the solicitation is like this:
ArtistsCollectve BB Kush, NY Soma, SD Strom, Forrest G, Green C, Baby Crunch, Spy Diesel, buy 1/4 get gram free. Baked goods, Grams, Joints avail.
4:06 PM Jun 29th from web
Dann Halem, 34, started the project about 18 months ago to raise money for California artists, and it's entirely legal, under California's medical marijuana laws. However, the Artists Collective could still be raided at any time by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents. Medical marijuana operations are still technically in violation of federal law, despite being legalized by more than a dozen states.
President Obama said during the election campaign he would limit DEA raids on medical marijuana distributers, but so far Attorney General Eric Holder has stopped short of ordering an all out ban.
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., introduced a bill last month that would allow states to legislate medical marijuana use as they see fit, without federal interference.
California advocates would welcome new federal legislation but some worry it would not end the hassles for those who sell, or use medical pot.
"The Federal government might not go after them, but local cops will do stings," said William S. Kroger, a Los Angeles defense attorney who specializes in marijuana cases. "Say he gets stopped by cop and he has a few bags on him and some cash. A local cop doesn't care, he'll get arrested anyway. They'll think he's a dealer."
Legalities aside, Halem plans to continue his project in hopes of establishing $10,000 grants for the arts, in association with Hollywood various organizations. "Our country gives no money to art," said Halem. "People spend more money on medical marijuana than the entirety of the National Endowment for the Arts."
Halem has been medical marijuana user himself, as he was diagnosed with a hormone deficiency five years ago, which made the busy life of a journalist an impossibility for him. "When you're on steroids twice a week marijuana smoothes things out," he said.
The service, which can either be contacted by telephone or through their Web site, ArtistsForAccess.com, does free deliveries, but still charges for the drugs. They even have an incentive program for members of the collective, offering free grams of marijuana and samples.
As a collective, the supply comes from the marijuana surpluses of members, who have recommendations for the substance and are allowed to grow under the conditions set by each county.
Because the service is registered as a 501c3 non-profit organization in California, it's tax exempt. So far the money made has only gone towards paying the bills.
"As we grow this, our business will stabilize," said Halem. The collective does follow the appropriate guidelines, and verifies any order with the client's doctor, but admits the system is flawed. Halem got his idea while he worked at a similar service in San Diego.
"In a day I could go from a hospice where there's a guy with a bag in his stomach, to a house with a bunch of 25-year-old surfers," he said.
And the anonymity of the Internet and Twitter makes things a bit dicey at times. Though the service does cater to some seriously ill patients, the philanthropist admits that deliveries can be "suspicious. I'm no doctor," Halem said. "They may look healthy, but it's not my problem. What if I said no and they were manic depressive and killed themselves?"
"If a doctor decides someone needs it my hands are tied," said the journalist turned pot dealer.
The actual legality of medical marijuana is still unclear as well. "Medical marijuana is not prescribed. It can be recommended by a doctor, but not prescribed," says Kroger.
Halem blames the system, and the lack of specifics in California State Senate Bill 420, which established the guidelines with plenty of loopholes and unclear jurisdiction issues.
"We're registered as a delivery service and have been to city hall ten times," Halem said. "But beyond that we can't even find someone at the city who tell us what we need to do."
Halem admits there's a fine a line between the white collar work world and the criminal underworld when delivering medical marijuana. "But as a journalist I immersed myself in the story for better or worse," he said.