February 20, 2014     NORML director Allen St. Pierre was asked by an NPR reporter about “the ubiquitous green cross in the medical cannabis industry.” St. Pierre replied “First one I saw was hanging up in the original San Francisco Buyer’s Club circa 1994/1995. Also, even before WA voters passed medical marijuana laws in 1997, there was already a patient collective in Seattle circa 1993 calling itself Green Cross (led by a woman with a patch on her eye, confined to a wheel chair, pulled by a Husky, named Joanna McKee).”

This 1997 photo of Seattle’s Joanna McKee talking to J. Michael Walker —a cutting-edge cannabinoid researcher then at Brown University— suggests the respect McKee commanded, and Walker’s respectfulness. Maybe he was thinking: “One can learn so much more from human marijuana users than from rodents!”

Here’s an item from the Movement Chronology I was compiling at the time. —FG

 Dec. 14-16, 1997  Investigators from the Institute of Medicine conduct a “Basic and Clinical Science Workshop” on the UC Irvine campus as part of an 18-month study commissioned by Barry McCaffrey’s National Office on Drug Control Policy. The IOM study is being conducted by two MD investigators -Stanley J. Watson, Jr. a mild-mannered research psychiatrist from the University of Michigan and John A. Benson, Jr., a silver-haired, bow-tie-wearing professor emeritus from Oregon Health Sciences University. The study director, Janet E. Joy, has a PhD in biology. Patients and caregivers sharing their experience and observations included Bill Britt, Peter McWilliams, Todd McCormick, Anna Boyce, Dr. Del Dalton, Marvin Chavez,  Etienne Fontan (Cannabis Alliance of Veterans), Andrew Kinnon, Kenneth Smuland,  Vic Hernandez, Ellen Komp, Bonnie Metcalf of the Yuba County Compassionate Use Co-op, Jo Anna Mckee (Green Cross Patient Co-op, Seattle),  Jeff Jones, Dale Gieringer, and Chris Conrad (author of Hemp for Health).

The IOM team then heard from researchers describing  the basic science, as currently understood, and the prospects of cannabis as a treatment for a remarkably wide range of conditions. It exerts its effects by acting on receptors in the brain and elsewhere that respond to the body’s own “cannabinoids.”   The line-up:

“Neuropharmacology of Cannabinoids and their Receptors” by Steven R. Childers, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; “Precipitated Cannabinoid Withdrawal and Sensory Processing of Painful Stimuli” by J. Michael Walker, Brown University; “Role of Cannabinoids in Movement” by Clara Sanudo, Brown University; “Tolerance and Cannabinoid-Opioid Interactions” by Sandra Welch, Medical College of Virginia; “Immune Modulation by Cannabinoids” by Norbert Kaminski, Michigan State University; “Marijuana and Glaucoma” by Paul Kaufman, University of Wisconsin; “Effects of Marijuana and Cannabinoids in Neurological Disorders” by Paul Consroe, University of Arizona Health Science Center; “Neural Mechanisms of Cannabinoid Analgesia,”  by Howard Fields, UCSF; “Wasting Syndrome Pathogenesis and Clinical Markers” by Donald Kotler, St. Lukes’-Roosevelt Hospital; “Clinical Experience with Marijuana” by Stephen O’Brien, East Bay AIDS Center;  “Marijuana in AIDS Wasting: Tribulations and Trials” by Donald Abrams, UCSF; and “Marijuana is Different From THC: A Review of Basic Research and State Studies of Antibyemesis” by Richard E. Musty, University of Vermont.

It happens that the San Francisco Green Cross dispensary is in the news today. Danielle Lai, a 13-year-old Girl Scout selling cookies with her mom standing by, did a box-a-minute business outside the Green Cross dispensary in the Excelsior District. The shrewd little ganjapreneur realized that pot partisans (a) get the munchies and (b) want to convey that our suppliers are good for the neighborhood. (When the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club was getting established, your correspondent made a point of buying an imitation Borsalino from the Hat Guys across Broadway, and guitar strings at Best Music.)

PS February 21: Danielle Lai’s sales strategy has become national news! Chris Mathews just chuckled about it on MSNBC —”Like they say, it’s all about location, location, location.”  The media is emphasizing the pot-gives-you-the-munchies angle, but equally true is that the Green Cross patron who buys a box of Girl Scout cookies from Danielle sees it as a low-key political act.

The Girl Scouts of Colorado have tweeted a statement: “If you are wondering, we don’t allow our Girl Scouts to sell cookies in front of marijuana shops or liquor stores/bars.” Well, Harumph! 

The Green Cross dispensary staff (who of course sell the popular strain “Girl Scout Cookie”) is having a lot of fun with the story. A post on their website from The Most Interesting Man in the World says, “I don’t always buy Girl Scout cookies, but when I do, I buy them from the genius outside The Green Cross pot dispensary.”

PPS According to Kevin Reed, director of the suddenly world-famous Green Cross dispensary,  “To the best of our knowledge, the name ‘The Green Cross’ originated in Seattle in reference to medical cannabis. We discovered this about a year after opening. However, this organization never used the green cross symbol in relation to its existence. The Green Cross, as a sign and symbol for medical cannabis, was first displayed on our 22nd Street storefront in 2004. We searched long and hard for the existence of this symbol’s use elsewhere before choosing it as our now registered trademarked name and logo.” 

When it comes to ganjapreneurs, l’il Danielle has nothing on ol’ Kevin.