Government-Supplied Marijuana Cigarettes from Miami Are Lost in the Mail

March 27, 2011

Elvy Mussika is a former South Florida resident who uses medical marijuana — grown and supplied directly by the federal government. As detailed in our October “Legalize It” issue, the government started a program in 1982 that supplied pre-rolled joints to patients with chronic conditions. George H.W. Bush cut all new prescriptions when he was in office, but a few legal tokers remain. We profiled Irvin Rosenfeld, a Fort Lauderdale stock trader who tokes up legally, in the open, every day.
Now Mussika — “one of the four remaining United States citizens who still receives medical marijuana from the United States government” — has lost her pot. Media_httpblogsbrowar_irffe

JAABlog has the scoop on this one: In a letter to the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the postmaster general, Mussika’s lawyer, Norm Kent of Fort Lauderdale, explains the mix-up.

Mussika recently moved to Eugene, Oregon (a logical development, all things considered), and was unable to pick up her six tins of 300 marijuana cigarettes before flying out West. So she appointed Kent to make the pickup himself, and mail the 1,800-joint, six-month supply to her new home.
But apparently, Kent wrote the ZIP code wrong. Instead of “97405,” he wrote “90405,” which may have landed the packages in Santa Monica, California. Hence his letter to the DEA and the postmaster:
I am going public with this in the hope that the DEA recognizes it is not in the public interest to have marijuana missing in the US mails, and because we will be needing to make a record of this loss in order to procure a new prescription. This marijuana is grown by the federal government for its patients under the protocol at the University of Mississippi. This is my formal notice of its disappearance.
Either some drug-sniffing dogs are to blame, or the Santa Monica post office is suddenly full of non-disgruntled workers. No word on whether Kent inspected the packages before writing the address label.
The report, released Wednesday, predicts the medical marijuana industry will hit $1.7 billion in revenues in 2011, rivaling sales of Viagra.
I got on a conference call with the report’s creators to ask the most important question: “Got any data on people who use marijuana and Viagra at the same time?”
“No,” answered Ted Rose, editor of the report, as speechless as a guy who just took too big a hit off a bong.
Rose works for See Change Strategy LLC, an independent financial analysis firm based in Washington D.C. You can get his report here. But it costs $1,150. And do you know how much weed and Viagra you can buy for $1,150?
Hey, no worries if you are in the biz, man. See Change expects the market to double in the next five years.
Forget what you’ve heard about an industry that Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and the District of Columbia have legalized.
Most of the information is anecdotal, politically charged, or poorly researched, Rose said. Until now.
See Change sent out more than 1,500 surveys–and about 300 dope peddlers actually answered them.
“Whatever one’s opinion about medical marijuana, everyone benefits by understanding how big this market is, who is making money, and how,” Rose said.
I am OK with legalized reefer madness, as long as my kid doesn’t catch it. I’ve met people in real pain who benefit from it, including some who are just suffering from the economy. But let’s be honest: Medical marijuana is a shameless front for complete legalization.
The proof is that California and Colorado make up 90% of the market, according to See Change. And these are the two states where you can still spot the most Grateful Dead bumper stickers.
In Colorado, where I live, it’s as easy to find a dispensary as a Walgreens. A TV reporter friend told me that whenever he walks into a dispensary unannounced to do yet another medical marijuana story, it’s difficult to find cancer patients or geriatrics. Mostly, it’s kids.
“The 20-somethings would tell me they have back pain while sitting in a chair,” he said, “and then I’d watch them walk out of the dispensary just fine, joking with their friends.”
That, of course, is anecdotal. The data suggest this highly fragmented industry could evolve from stoner boutiques toward money-grubbing corporations, even though it is currently illegal under federal law.
President Barack Obama has promised to turn a blind eye in states that have legalized medical marijuana–which has ignited the industry’s growth, Rose said.
So, for now, medical marijuana entrepreneurs are making astonishing bets that the next president won’t be some moralizing yahoo who shuts the whole business down and throws everyone in federal prison.
It’s just like banking: Who needs risk management? Be an optimist.
Serial entrepreneur Tripp Keber took me on a tour of his beverage plant on Tuesday. It’s called “Dixie Elixirs & Edibles,” even though a more obvious name would be “Soda Pot.”
Keber, who also develops luxury RV parks, says business at Dixie Elixirs is just bubbling over.
Why smoke when you can sip something that tastes like a popular fruit-flavored soda? The company also sells medicated biscuits, bars, chews, truffles, cakes, lozenges, topicals and tinctures.
The plant is secure, has no signage, and seems to run as smoothly inside as Pepsi Bottling. Keber pays a PhD to maintain product quality. And he talks like any CEO looking for deals.
“I truly believe that there will be an opportunity for a company in the medical marijuana space to go public in the next three to five years,” he said. “But within 24 to 30 months .. somebody is going to knock on our door. “It would be a rounding error for a Philip Morris or a U.S. Tobacco,” Keber said. “And if you don’t think that they are eying this market, you would be foolish.”