By Steve Elliott
Yesterday’s Whittier Daily News carried an extraordinary piece by Frank C. Girardot, senior metro editor for the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group. The piece was so interesting and so well done that I wanted to share it with you in its entirety, which Frank has graciously given Toke of the Town permission to do. Frankly, I’m with Frank.
Dear President Obama: Over the weekend I think I stumbled on a great plan to put people back to work. What I need from you is some stimulus money. Think of it as seed money if you will. I’m going to use it to start a business. And in a matter of months I think the business can be one of the Fortune 500. Tax money generated by this startup can go to work fixing our health care system, our roads and our schools. By some estimates consumers already spend $110 billion a year on the product I plan to sell. The time is ripe. Look no farther than any street corner in America with a McDonald’s on one side and a Starbucks on the other. If there’s a gas station on the third corner, that leaves the fourth corner for my business. Back in the 1940s, everybody had a hamburger stand. With the help of Ray Kroc, Dick and Mac McDonald took their tiny restaurant in San Bernardino and turned it into a worldwide empire. Starbucks had similar origins. Now you can’t go anywhere without finding one. In a way these businesses catered to all of us baby boomers as we grew. When we were young we needed the fuel of protein in a burger to grow. As we got older we needed the kick of strong coffee to make it through the day. My franchise will be called Hemp Express. It will supply the product that makes the pain of aging seem less sharp – marijuana. I got my idea from a small shop right here in the San Gabriel Valley – the La Puente Medical Cannabis Center. It sits at the heart of a busy intersection, within a stone’s throw of a baker, a shoe outlet, a grocery store and an insurance broker. It’s midway on Hacienda Boulevard between a McDonald’s and a Starbucks. This is a neighborhood that says suburban Los Angeles County. There are shops like it all over Los Angeles and California. And, just a couple of weeks ago the City Council approved plans for at least five more in La Puente alone – way more than the number of Starbucks and McDonald’s in town. While these shops have customers galore, they offer no standardization of product, layout or customer service. Some offer a smorgasbord of weed with names that sound like something from a Baskin Robbins menu – Hawaii Skunk, Hindu Kush, Natural Mystic, White Widow, Shiva Shanti, Bubblegum, Kali Mist, Papaya, Pineapple Punch, Sweet Purple and Chocolate Chunk to name a few. It’s a good bet that other less scrupulous providers are probably throwing scraps together from roaches they picked up at a reggae show and passing it off as medicine. Unlike either extreme, Hemp Express will set the high standards, while maintaining a simple menu of products – designed to cater to our customers’ short-term memory loss and distorted perception. Anyway Mr. President, I hope you agree with me that federal stimulus dollars for pot shops makes a lot of sense. I just want to do my part to help you create a green economy. Sincerely, Frank Frank C. Girardot is the senior metro editor for the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group. Send e-mail to email@example.com or visit his blog at www.insidesocal.com/sgvcrime