OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Oakland's Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana pioneering enterprise in California, is celebrating it's 10th anniversary today. California will soon decide at the ballot box on whether to allow all adults to use pot for recreational use with Proposition 64 come November.
For a decade now, Harborside Health Center has been and remains a clean, well-lighted place for pot—medical marijuana to be exact.
"The world's attitude towards cannabis has shifted massively in the course of the 10 years that Harborside has been open," says Steve DeAngelo, Harborside's Executive Director and a cannabis reform pioneer.
Since Harborside opened, the number of states allowing medical cannabis has gone from one to half of the United States.
DEA raids on approved medical cannabis farms and dispensaries have ceased. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use.
Meanwhile, California will vote on recreational use next month with polls currently predicting passage.
"So we have seen really a massive, tectonic shift in attitudes towards cannabis," says Mr. DeAngelo.
Even with the potential for a lot more competition, DeAngelo has built a solid, respected business with 200 employees and contractors, serving 200,000 patients, such as John Cameron.
"I drive past about 4 or 5 of these places to come here; the size of it, the guy's been doing this for years, he's, you know, out in the forefront and he's got a real clientele. Yes,” says Cameron. "We've always tried to create an environment that was open to all kinds of people and to present cannabis as a wellness product rather than an intoxicant," adds DeAngelo.
"Last year, I broke my five vertebrae in my neck. The year before that, I broke my back twice. I've had so many operations that I'm lucky to be on my feet. This helps out," said Cameron.
Opponents to recreational use mostly cite dangers to public safety, especially car accidents due to stoned drivers. And, this patient worries that passage may have unintended consequences.
"I know that the tobacco companies are gonna take it over, I've also seen how it's grown in the black market and I don't want my environment loused up. I'd rather come here and pay twice as much for something that isn't gonna screw up the mountains," says Cameron.
Should Prop. 64 pass, two important things are going to happen. First, a lot of the criminal element that has invaded this industry for decades will simply be gone. On top of that, a lot of tax money will be raised that will be put to public use.