Posts Tagged ‘pot use’

California votes against legal pot:Too bad

November 7, 2010

If you can imagine such a scenario, California voters defeated Proposition 19, which would have made marijuana use legal in the State.

Of course there was a concerted campaign against the measure with the federal government and local police being front and center against legalization.

Certainly that was to be expected, as the police have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo on this issue.

A cynical view?

Possibly, but police forces get their money by convincing politicians (and the public) that crime is running rampant and the more they can make their case in that regard the better their budgets are likely to be.

So if marijuana was suddenly, with a stroke of a politician’s pen, made legal a great deal of ‘crime’ as now defined would be off the table.

It would also reduce the number of people being convicted and spending time, at taxpayers’ expense , in our jails.

As a matter of full disclosure, I have never used marijuana nor have I ever had the inclination to do so. I quit smoking regular cigarettes over 50 years ago and have never felt the need to suck smoke into my lungs since that time.

But that doesn’t change the fact that our laws regarding the weed need to be changed and California had a chance to do so and muffed it – although the dissenting vote came at just under 54%, which is not a ringing rejection of the idea.

What it come down to is that successive governments have made the same mistakes with marijuana that the US government made with prohibition.

They have spent decades putting people in jail and destroying lives for an activity that harmed no-one – possibly with the exception of themselves and that is debatable.

In the process they have also facilitated the growth of a criminal element that feeds richly off the illegal drug trade. A trade so lucrative that in places like Mexico they effectively maintain their own armies and hold the government to ransom.

And for what?

To try and prevent the use of a drug that is widely used by a large percentage of the population, while allowing and profiting from the use of alcohol which by all accounts causes much more disruption to the social fabric.

None of it makes much sense to me. It seems to be another case of stupid, outdated laws making criminals out of citizens for doing something that society as a whole increasingly finds to be – if not completely accepted – at least not a criminal act.

California had the opportunity on November 2nd to embark on a bold experiment, but unfortunately came up short.

All that being said, there were marijuana users in California that were opposed to Proposition 19 as well. They believed that the wording of the proposition was such that if passed it would be used to make their lives much more complicated.

In part:

For instance, Prop 19 supporters are excited about the ’5 foot by 5 foot’ cultivation area they think they would be allowed i.e., one space per residence, no matter how many occupants. But most don’t realize that police will continue to arrest people who can’t show written documentation from a landlord or property-owner giving them permission, which is impossible to get for most. But unlike now, localities will also be able to impose huge monetary fines on such individuals, in addition to the criminal charges.

Cities would also decide how close to minors growing will be allowed.  Undoubtedly many will rule that in the same apartment-complex is too close. Prop 19 creates new felony charges for anyone crossing those limits. So it can be asked: how does Prop 19 make us marijuana-users more ‘free’?

In addition, unlike now, localities will be allowed to enact steep fines for any person caught without a permit for 5 foot  x 5 foot cultivation area – that can be 1 plant. For property-owners the fines can be added on to your property-taxes, so you have to pay. For renters caught without a growing permit, a fine and jail time.

Prop 19 gives localities the power to collect as much money as they want through these fines & fees (wonder how much that’ll be?). Rancho Cordova’s ordinance will charge homeowners $600 per square foot of garden, or $15,000 per year for your 5 foot x 5 foot cultivation plot. And charge homeowners caught exceeding that area $1000 a day for the ‘nuisance’. The same charges and fines also appliers to renters.

All of this is aimed at the same purpose as Prop 19 itself: to discourage people from growing pot themselves and funnel all consumption through high-priced dispensaries (the more they charge, the more tax the locality gets), and at the same time give police clearer criteria of their powers that they can use to bust people.

Going on the above, it’s clear that under Prop 19, pot smokers would be better off buying a doctor’s recommendation.

In short, the objections of pot-smokers to Prop 19: They now live in a climate where anyone in California can get a doctor’s recommendation for less than $100, and with it possess and cultivate amounts 10 times that of Prop 19. Anybody else already has the right to possess 1 ounce.

Prop 19 introduces a plethora of fines and fees for governments to cash in on and making many basic acts which are legal now, illegal, such as smoking in the same home as a minor, or handing a joint to someone who hasn’t turned 21 yet.  Legally defining what amount ‘personal use’ is.  Not even to mention the loss of an entire, thriving cottage-industry — to large corporations. And the negative tax and economic consequences of that.

Looking at the whole picture, it becomes clear what Prop 19′s true purpose is: to empty the wallet of the marijuana user for the benefit of dispensaries, big business and governments. All while the voters embrace it with a big stoned smile.

As they say, ‘the devil is in the details’, and they may very well be right in believing that Proposition 19 left openings for serious abuse.It wouldn’t be the first (nor the last) time that groups got sandbagged by the lawmakers. But legalization something that will eventually come and when it does the people who will be affected need to be very involved in the process.


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