By: Max Otake
I planned to David Goldman at a cafe on Market Street, where I was told to look for a man wearing a hat with a big green marijuana leaf on it. Needless to say, he was easy to spot. After about ten tries to contact someone about marijuana, I somehow landed on one of San Francisco’s most involved activists. Goldman is an retired AP Calculus teacher who has taken on cannabis activism as a second career. His approach is relatively simple as he is mostly focused around the user. He is less caught up in all the legal stuff — something I’ve been hopelessly trying to make sense of in government class. While most of the conversation consisted of Goldman going on about the science of THC, what strains I should get — strictly theoretically speaking — for certain outcomes, the racism of SF marijuana politics, and his plans to move to Key West, Florida once they get a good dispensary, but in between I got some great insight into the life of a local potent patient activist.
Q: What made you start working as a cannabis activist? When did you start?
I’ve always been fond of cannabis. I discovered I needed it when I found out a had glaucoma. Cannabis helps suppress it.
Q: Did you have any involvement in Prop 215?
Only on weekends getting signatures. I was too busy being a teacher.
Q: What do you do on a day to day basis?
I run the [Brownie Mary] organization. It’s a democratic club to promote sensible policy on cannabis. We’re mostly made up of medical cannabis patients. And some of us are also just adult personal users. We meet once a month and have updates and state local and federal issues of interest. We have guest speakers, we also have vendors showing off latest products. We meet once a month, but working on this, planning meetings where 60 people show up, takes a lot of work. I spend a couple hours a day working on it.
Q: Since SF is often seen as being on the forefront of legal cannabis, do you feel you’re having more of a national impact? Or is it still centered around SF?
I focus on local issues. I’m not trying to be a Gandhi or Roosevelt and change the world. If I could make a difference on a small scale in SF by being a potent patient activist, I’m good with that. But I think what we do here is noticed by the rest. What starts in California spreads across the country. We were the first to make it legal.
Q: Are you happy with where the industry is heading?
It’s a [work in progress]. One thing I’m really worried about is the taxing fees coming in January. There [will be], by my calculations, a 50 percent tax increase coming.
Q: What changes would you like to see being made? How would you like it to be run, ideally?
I’d like a program that makes sure all cannabis is tested appropriately – we’re gonna be getting that. I’m basically okay with the current laws, there are some corrections that need to be made. They don’t allow for freebies – when patients see a new product, it’s great if they can get a sample. But under the new regs, that won’t be allowed. It puts burdens on patients. Who can afford to spend 80 dollars on a new tincture only to find out it doesn’t work for them? Here’s the analogy: Doctors often routinely give away, without a formal prescription, RX medication samples. So I don’t see any problem with samples. I still expect they’ll be tested and they’ll be tracked and traced. They’re treating it at times like it’s radioactive plutonium. They’re acting like it’s so dangerous, it’s ridiculous. They’re blowing it way out of proportion
Q: Do you think sufficient research is being done to prove marijuana’s benefits?
If they say it hasn’t been researched enough, that’s a joke. If you go to pubmed.gov and type in cannabis, you’ll get 26,000 hits. Each one of those hits is a peer reviewed study on cannabis. If you put in Adderall, you get 200 hits. Cannabis is the most researched plant on the planet. I’m not saying it doesn’t need more research, I’m saying that to say it hasn’t been researched enough, is bullsh*t, it’s not true.
Q: Any other major goals you have for the cannabis industry?
I would like to see it be descheduled so that we can properly regulate it. Alcohol and tobacco are not on the list of scheduled drugs from the controlled substance act, and they are definitely lethal substances. No one has ever died toxicologically from cannabis, the only way you could die form it is if a giant thing of it crushed you. Landed on you and crushed you. We also want to put out the illicit market. We want to make cannabis safe, accessible and affordable to people 18 and up.