On the Trail of Medical Marijuana

California's system has plenty of gray areas, New Yorker finds
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2008 4:56 PM CDT
Supporters smoke marijuana with Ed Rosenthal, a grower brought up on cultivation charges, even after a federal judge urged them to drop the case.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – California's legalization of medical marijuana helped create a cultivation and distribution network that promises big money for those willing to work in legal gray areas. Guided by an old friend, Blue, who's a dealer in all but name, David Samuels of the New Yorker follows the trail of Tibetan prayer flags from boutique-style urban dispensaries to lush fields in virtually lawless rural areas.

Starting with "the holistic health nuts, masseurs, d.j.s, art-school dropouts, and New Age types who populate the medical-marijuana scene in Los Angeles," Samuels crisscrosses the state, occasionally indulging along with his interviewees. One day, having woken up on the floor, he reflects on Blue's career path: "Though he is not a dangerous criminal, he is not exactly a hospice worker, either."