San Francisco Orders Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to Sell Fatter Bags

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Regulation of medical marijuana distribution can have some interesting side effects. The following email, sent to a dispensary operator by an employee of the San Francisco Department of Health, shows that the city is requiring clubs to be more careful in their measurements:
Dear MCD Applicant;

It has come to my attention that some MCD's [medical cannabis dispensaries] are using the incorrect equivalent conversion between grams and ounces. You must use 28.35 grams/ounce, not 28 grams/ounce for all cannabis sold by weight. The law behind this is in the State Business and Professions Code, which is typically enforced by Weights and Measures (State Dept of Agriculture). As they currently are not addressing weights and measures issues regarding cannabis clubs, the City's MCD Inspection Program will enforce this requirement.

Please feel free to share this with any club operator (I do not have email
for most operators).

Thank you for your cooperation.
In other words, San Francisco is ordering dispensaries to give patients more bud for their buck. The extra 3rd of a gram per ounce isn’t going to put any providers out of business, but it's amusing to see the city intervene on behalf of medical marijuana consumers.

This is the kind of regulation the marijuana industry actually needs. Hopefully someday, when the DEA shows up at your dispensary, it won’t be to confiscate your proceeds and product, it will be to warn you: "It's come to our attention that you're selling skimpy sacks…"
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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My favorite (i.e. least hated) government agency

I wish all of my tax-money could go directly to the Dept. of Weights & Measures.

A new era

I think back when bags were measured by a number of fingers, IE: 3 finger bag, (showing my age). This seems much more accurate and acceptable.

im moving to san fran in a month!

now i really cant wait!!! an extra bud in my bag!!!!

If only this were retroactive...

Somebody owes me .35 grams. A few times over.

Oh well, I'll take a very slightly short ounce over marinol any day.

Who cares. a third of a gram

Who cares. a third of a gram ooh. how about 4 grams or something. Thats a measly amount and any one excited should just relax, half a joint is nothing! Chill

It's the principle, silly

The Dept. of Health is telling them to give patients more pot. My point wasn't that you get to smoke an extra bowl everytime you buy an ounce.


This is definitely a change in the right direction for the government. Let's see where it goes.

you are missing the point

I am sure half a pinjoint isn't going to get people excited, it's the fact that a facet of the Gov't is actually looking out for our best interest, which is not often!

A little extra can hurt

Although the extra .35 grams is nice, if it's slightly over an ounce it could change a misdemeanor into a felony. That's why most clubs back when Prop. 215 first passed started capping it at 28.0 grams. We know the budtenders and farmacists like to give an extra pinch for luck, and we didn't want to create felony opportunities for the cops back then. Now it doesn't matter as much.

MCD law

It's interesting to see my email to the MCD's show up on your blog.
The email was sent in response to a complaint I received and confirmed as valid. As MCDs now collect sales tax for all purchases, it only reinforces the idea that people should actually get what they pay for, that being one of the roles of Gov't and regulation.


I hope you don't mind that we find this amusing. Joking aside, you are exactly right, not that you need me to tell you so.

As I'm sure you realize, getting what you pay for is a new experience for medical marijuana patients who have for too long been forced to obtain medicine under less than ideal circumstances and from sometimes less than compassionate people.

My take on this may be a bit childish from your perspective, but I certainly do appreciate and support your efforts to ensure fairness.

Unclear Motives

C'mon, the goverment doesn't care whether medical pot smokers get shafted out of .35 grams per ounce! The only reason this is even coming up is because they are concerned that pharmacists are pocketing the extra .35 grams from every ounce dispensed and redistributing it illegally for personal profit.

This isn't about doing right by the medical pot smokers- it's only about cutting off another distribution channel for illegally obtained marijuana.

That's silly

SF doesn't track mmj distribution ounce for ounce anyway, so this would be a needlessly complex way of diverting the product. Nor is .35 grams per ounce enough to fuel a profitable illegal distribution scheme.

I take SF Dept. of Health fully at its word on this. These types of regulatory practices are completely normal. I understand the instinct to assume that there's some kind of drug war conspiracy going on, but this is SF we're talking about. Their concern for the well-being of patients has already been demonstrated.

A bong hit a bag

At about a bong hit a bag...I figure my 'guy' owes me a couple pounds, at least, for my business over the years.

I dont mind the amusement factor...

The email, as I said, was in reply to a complaint, which, as these facilities are going through a permitting process SF has established, someone patronizing the facility has a right to complain to the agency regulating that facility. In this case it turned out the complaint was justified, and the practice widespread (as is obvious from the replies you've received on this blog).
If the facility was NOT going through the permitting process, however, I would not get involved in any way.

The whole issue is a bit complicated regarding State law, and State/local agency involvement. There has been quite a bit of discussion over the years about this issue (whether or not to treat the weighing of cannabis in an MCD as a retail weighing subject to State Ag. Dept's oversight). But that discussion is best left for others to sort out.

From an Oregon MMJ patient perspective...

With some dispensaries charging $525/oz for meds thats $6.50 worth of meds at .35g. That could buy half a pound of good coffee here. We here in Oregon are appalled at the rates being gouged out of patients down south. We have no cash consideration here and no dispensaries and we are fighting to keep it that way, both for DEA and to keep those kinds of prices from flourishing. The DEA gets interested when there is an untaxed underground economy of large scale, hence all the busts there. The excuse they use is galling: We keep prices high to keep dealers away, no one could resell over what we charge! But you know if the same guy came in 5 times in one day buying ounces they would not bat an eye all the while chanting their mantra.

In defense of MCD prices

Many factors contribute to cannabis prices at medical dispensaries. Patients are offered a variety of strains with a degree of certainty that they know what they're purchasing. The ability to choose between indicas and sativas is unheard of in other parts of the country, and the quality of medical cannabis on the west coast is extraordinarily high compared to what's available elsewhere.

More importantly, dispensary operators undertake considerable risk to make medicine available in a safe environment. Rent, insurance, and legal costs are substantial, as is the possibility that the DEA will show up and seize your assets. Any criticism of dispensary prices is incomplete without addressing these factors.

This is a business -- like any other -- and prices are determined by the market. Is it really necessary explain that the federal government, and not dispensary operators, is the real reason prices for medical cannabis are what they are?

"Factors" you say?

All of the things that dispensary owners have to deal with and the expenses associated with owning one happen to add up to about sixty dollars an eighth? They just happen to add up to a price per eighth that was set by black market dealers long before medical marijuana became available legally?

Give us some credit here, not all pot smokers are stupid. With prices that are unheard of on the black market -as high as seventyfive dollars an eighth- at many "caregivers" it is quite obvious to anyone smart enough to schedule an appointment with a doctor and get a referral for medical cannabis that "dispensaries" are strictly a for profit business.

Not that I don't support them. I pay about what I would on the black market anyway, have much less risk of persecution, get a great selection, actually get what I pay for and usually it is a cute girl who weighs out my stuff for me while I wait. I really can't complain. Just don't try the same rhetoric on your customers that you use on the government. It is mildly insulting.

To everyone else complaining about prices, I agree, BUT; I'm pretty sure you are able to posess up to six mature plants legally with your doctors referral so just suck it up and grow some of your own. Please correct me if I am wrong here, I want to do this myself eventually and don't want to end up in jail over bad info.


I also wanted to say that I agree with the assertion that the federal government is the true culprit behind high prices for cannabis. If people were allowed to grow it at home next to their tomatoes like they should be, so to speak, high prices and most every other negative factor assosciated with marijuana and it's being modeled as a "drug" would all but disappear. More importantly, the marijuana "black market" and all the negatives that pertain to it would cease to exist. Peace.


$525 for an ounce of Plant material!!! Now that is Criminal. Compassion my ass, thats highway robbery.

Medical Marijuana

$522 for an ounce of good green sticky Indica and/or Sativa. For medical purposes that is grossly inflated. I can't believe they can reconcile for that high of price. That's black market price, granted a good one but it still ranks up there with the black market. In the midwest, right now, is some really good sativa. Not as aromatic or pretty but clean and effective $275 for one ouarter pound. Otherwise it's $80-$120 an ounce. Pounds go for $800-$900. Mind you this is what we call regs, mexican sativa. The exotic, which you can get like Kush, skunk, etc. you should really thank God that you can even get it. Where it is illegal and strictly enforced the quality goes down and the price goes up. In Iowa we won't have medical marijuana until pigs fly. And the ratio of pigs to people in Iowa is there are 6 pigs for every human being. Imagine all that methane, what an explosion that would be. Guess I'd better be careful when (If) I light up.

Oregonians are appalled at California's <ahem> prices...

Patients do not pay for medicine here. That is, my caregiver offers effective, high quality meds (strains like Strawberry Cough, Arcata Trainwreck, Chocolate Chunk, Dutch Passion's White Widow, Skunk XXX, Crystal, Mango, Shiskaberry, God bud, Kali Mist, and Purple Erkle) for helping with $50 paid directly to the electric company once a month. (We are allowed to help with the costs associated with the grow excluding labor and rent but are not allowed to give "consideration" for the meds). If I want a strain, I place a "clone request" in a private forum and someone from the community gives it to me to give to my grower/caregiver to grow for me (all for free). My caregiver/grower makes medibles, another member of the community makes cannaoil capsules, hash and tinctures. All of these are available in the community for free (although many of us like to buy supplies for the bakers/growers/hashmakers, etc.).
We share with one another and when one of us is out, others give to that person with only one request-"pay it forward." It works, guys. It really, truly works.
Patients helping patients, donating and sharing grow equipment, teaching one another to grow (all for free, mind you), just because we can.
I am all for legalizing cannabis for recreational useage, but not on the backs of patients.
Rethink how you guys do things-you may find that many of the troubles that your community are going through right now will fade away.

By the way, one ounce is legally and technically 28.3 grams, not 28 grams. If a patient in California has to purchase their medicine at dispensaries, the very least the dispensary operator can do is not "short" them, especially at $500+ dollars an ounce. I don't recall my old black market dealers adding the extra 0.3 grams either, and I am certain that it had nothing to do with their shielding me from the potential felony associated with the extra third of a gram-since they always had more than an ounce with them when they delivered the $250 ounce to me of Super Silver Haze or Bubba Kush...

Glad I don't have to go back to that-helping one another is so much more rewarding-plus, the DEA isn't really interested in stealing the meds of patients who leave the commerce out of the equation. No money=no hassles.

Just a thought-it's pretty hard for anyone to justify those prices when it comes to sick and suffering people...Try as you like, but until you remove the HUGE profit margin from the picture, the sh*t is going to keep hitting the fan.

Dispensaries will not come to Oregon-we don't want the heartache and trauma associated with them and the greed (from the operators to the DEA) that they bring with them. You all can keep 'em.

Medical Organic Delivery Service

Anyone interested in investing a little capital to help me build online and text messaging delivery service for patients
unable to go to dispensary locations.
Send message to [email protected]

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The Afterlife

Want the afterlife? Got Jesus? Then you had better help to legalize cannabis for ALL!

This fight is about what matters.

Anonymous 4:20 sez: "We share with one another and when one of us is out, others give to that person with only one request-"pay it forward." It works, guys. It really, truly works. Patients helping patients, donating and sharing grow equipment, teaching one another to grow (all for free, mind you), just because we can."

This makes me smile, because it illustrates the *real* reason why marijuana is so feared by those who count their worth in terms of their property, and why prohibition reform is so extremely difficult to accomplish in the world today. A marijuana-smoking population is a population that doesn't uniformly share the obsessions of those who count their own worth in terms of how much wealth they have accumulated, and who denominate their hopes in the same way. A marijuana-using population is not as easily manipulated into servitude by the world's dominant ownership-and-debt-promoting cultures -- the same people who routinely use force, intimidation, and terror to accomplish their goals. From the perspective of the slavemasters, marijuana users can't be motivated by "hope of [monetary] reward", and their minds are more open to direct observation of reality, so all that's left in the arsenal of manipulation is "fear of punishment." If they can be made fearful enough, they will keep their disruptive thoughts to themselves, and their quietude will allow the status quo to be maintained. Plus, the persecutability of marijuana users is a useful harassment tool for anyone who, in the estimation of the powerful, needs to be harassed. It's so easy to plant incriminating "evidence", and to falsify test results, and to lock people up.

When we start to oppose the forces of prohibition, we bring down upon ourselves all the powers in the world, both legal and illegal. When you understand this in your bones, you're beginning to be ready to imitate Jesus's temple-cleansing behavior. But understand: his cleansing of the temple was the "crime" that led directly to his crucifixion, and that that crime's effects are still being felt today. There is more in play here than mere marijuana, or mere money. The real stakes, here, are the quality of human life, as governed by an increasingly globalized culture, for a very long time to come. Jesus's crime was utterly intolerable to the Romans and to Rome's priestly clients in Jerusalem, because he was saying something very radical when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers: "There are some things that are sacred, over which considerations of property -- of who owns what -- have no dominion." (He is actually reported as having said, at the time, "You have turned my father's house into a den of thieves!" But his disruption of Temple businesses spoke even louder.) That's a sentiment that most people agree with Jesus about, but few of us are calm enough, or clear-eyed enough, or brave enough, to act upon it. But Anonymous 4:20 and his/her friends are calm, clear, and brave about this, as is everyone who acts in a pay-it-forward manner, in any way, at any time.

I hope these words of mine demonstrate why (a) Anonymous 4:20's words make me smile (triumph, ultimately, is certain, and brave souls always make me cheerful), and (b) why it is so incredibly hard to get legislators to think rationally, or public-spiritedly, about prohibition. You think prohibition is about drugs? No. Grow up and understand: It's about everything that matters; indeed, it's about the whole question of what matters.


I'm sorry, but in no way can you relate smoking pot with not valuing your self worth by measures of money and possession. If anything, it is seeming to be the exact opposite. More and more people are exploiting the medical marijuana system because they glorify smoking weed and feel that if they conform to this social habit it will some how heighten their status in society, getting them one step closer to the scantily clad, busty women and expensive, European sports cars they always see their favorite pot smoking musician with in the music videos...

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