For more than half an hour Tuesday evening, proponents of medical marijuana alternately berated, cajoled and pleaded with the Lake Forest City Council.
The speeches followed an hourlong protest in front of that attracted a variety of news media to the usually quiet commercial complex at Commercentre Drive and Bake Parkway.
At the meeting, 12 people spoke in support of the city's embattled pot dispensaries.
Some were seasoned advocates; others, like Tony Tyron, said the city's marijuana crackdown is likely to bring other "average" locals out of the woodwork to protest.
So important is the issue to him that he spoke in public, although he admitted being “frankly terrified that my face is on camera right now.”
"Pot Not Prozac"
The protesters said shutting down Lake Forest dispensaries harms people who use the drug to relieve such ailments as cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder. Some described personal battles with other prescription pain relievers before discovering marijuana as an alternative.
Among the protesters:
- A retired Army veteran who said a risky surgery to remove tumor the "size of two fists" left him addicted to opiates and unable to work. When he began using marijuana, “the pain was reduced greatly and at times entirely.”
- A 20-year-old student who lives in Lake Forest and said she uses marijuana for "extreme back pain." She said she can't afford to drive to another city or county to purchase medical marijuana.
- A man born in Wales who said he was shot while fighting for the United States in Vietnam and has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. He wasn't planning to attend the meeting until he found out the dispensary where he buys marijuana has been shuttered.
- A Lake Forest mother and resident of 15 years who said it should be her decision how to medicate her post-traumatic stress. "It is my choice to be healthy my way and I feel like you’re taking away that freedom," she said.
Laguna Niguel resident Gordon Wilson also attacked the city's recent partnership with the federal government to as a limit on freedom.
“It really, really tears me apart” that resources are being spent on punishing marijuana users while "rapists and murderers run free," Wilson said.
"A Waste of Money"
Others, including Orange County NORML representative Elaine Washington, said the money spent by the city to sue local marijuana collectives—about $600,000 at last estimate—should have been used for other purposes.
After the meeting, city spokeswoman Debra Rose said the city plans to continue its lawsuits to close local dispensaries.
As of Tuesday afternoon, nine of the 12 marijuana shops in Lake Forest had shut their doors, including the eight in a Raymond Way building specifically targeted by federal complaints; another is expected to do so this week.