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Prop. 19: A bad trip for California

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POSTED October 23, 2010 2:04 a.m.

I have just one question after reading the voters pamphlet for the Nov. 2 election - what were they smoking when they wrote Proposition 19?

Even if you are for the legalization of marijuana you’d be nuts to vote for this convoluted, half-baked measure that gives California’s 500 plus cities and counties the chance to create 500 plus different sets of rules for the production, distribution and sale of pot. Plus jurisdictions could opt not to make it legal which means you could get cited in one town for possessing it and not in another.

It is akin to placing on the ballot a measure that would give local government the authority to define what constitutes a “stop” at a stop sign. Basic laws governing behavior - outside of property use laws - should be uniform throughout California.

Why not put a straight up measure on the ballot saying you’re legalizing marijuana and subjecting it to state laws governing distribution, the manufacture, and sale just as the state does with alcohol products and even cigarettes? If the argument is that pot is no different than those two vices, then why not?

Setting aside the debate over whether pot is a gateway drug, there are other serious consequences that have nothing to do with whether it leads someone to meth, cocaine, or heroin.

The assumption is made if everyone can legally grow it - at least in jurisdictions that will allow it - that somehow it will reduce crime.

How is that? The medi-pot law is so hard to enforce that practically anyone can get a marijuana card by simply finding a sympathetic physician or a creative con man.

Yet there are tons of incidents where people have their medical marijuana stolen or where they trash and destroy rentals to grow pot indoors.  It is clear that the amount stolen from those who may have a legitimate medical need for marijuana and pot raised in tract home pot houses that this is about making money illegally in a big fashion.

It is highly doubtful that any jurisdiction is going to let an individual grow more than a handful of plants. But even with the medical pot laws cap on plants, there is ample evidence that people exceed that. The rationale is they that are growing it for friends. That’s fine if no money exchanges hands but who is kidding who? Even if the street cost of marijuana dropped it is still a source of cash for people who grow it for more than just their personnel use.

The argument is that by making it legal it will take away much of the opportunity for people to grow it for profit. Really. Home brewing of beer as well as home winemaking are legal yet how many people make their own?

The point is most users are going to get it from someone else and that someone else is most likely going to want money for it. And even if the value is half of what it is today it is still a tempting source for illegal income.

As far as the federal promise to enforce its laws outlawing marijuana use, one may think it is a hallow threat given the fact they aren’t sending out FBI teams to arrest medi-pot users.

People forget what that federal promise has behind it.

If an employer drug tests you and finds traces of illegal drugs - or alcohol - in your blood system they can fire you. It doesn’t matter what state pot law says as the state and federal employment laws would back them up.

There is also a reason why it is called “driving under the influence” nowadays and not drunken driving as it was 40 years ago.  Manteca law enforcement officers note that during the day roughly 65 percent of DUI arrests are prescription drug or illegal drug related while 35 percent involve alcohol. At night, the alcohol percentage shoots up to around 90 percent.

The point is if they test you if you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence or you’re in an accident, being impaired by drugs or alcohol is a crime.

Simply making it legal on a local basis doesn’t free the users from consequences of its use being detected in the workplace or on the road.

Given the fact a typical first-time DUI has a $7,000 price tag when all related costs to the person arrested are factored into the equation, by knocking down the last prohibition you are essentially creating a ton of new consequences for users who would be emboldened to use it more freely.

And, no, the ban against pot is not similar to prohibition.

Before this country outlawed alcohol consumption the use of alcohol was extremely widespread and not just on an occasional basis.

It is little wonder why pro medical pot advocates are urging people to vote against Proposition 19.

‘They claim you can’t get a bad trip while smoking pot, but if California passes Proposition 19 that will no longer be the case.

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