I’m about as ambivalent as can be when it comes to allowing retail marijuana sales in Manteca.
I have seen the results of addiction. I’ve seen people get in deeper and deeper. But marijuana is not the vehicle as much as it is the conduit. It is no different than alcohol, gambling, pornography, sugar, cigarettes — you name it. Anything pursued in excess can destroy lives.
I can look you straight in the eye and say I have never smoked, never tried marijuana, and never have drank alcohol. I’ve never taken any illegal substances, often balk at taking prescription medication whether it is for gout or pain after hernia surgery and eschew over the counter drugs to the point I haven’t taken aspirin in years. The last medication I took was NyQuil cold tablets in early 2020.
I hate the smell of cigarettes and marijuana.
That said I make no secret of my struggle with food. The 5 quarts of Dreyer’s ice cream every weekend is real. And the only reason I haven’t weighed more than 175 pounds for going on 18 years is the fact I know what my weakness is and have countered it with daily exercise and a fairly strict eating regimen save for my ice cream vice.
I also know countless people who take pleasure in the vices mentioned previously without doing so in excess.
Sitting around getting stoned is about as ridiculous as drinking yourself into a drunken stupor. It clearly crosses the line of whatever pleasure one gets from partaking either in marijuana or alcohol.
And since both relax users, only someone with an agenda would argue that using marijuana doesn’t impact reflexes and reaction time to a degree making driving a car or operating machinery dicey and potentially harmful to others. There is clearly a limit that is not safe to cross and it varies with people.
All of that said you will find my name in the data base of people from the 95336 and 95337 zip codes that have purchased marijuana legally.
I did so at the 209 dispensary in Modesto on McHenry Avenue. It was for a longtime friend who went with me. They are well past the legal age. They have been using marijuana — begrudgingly at first — to ease pain. It has allowed them to cut back on an endless array of pain medication. It is not to get high but to counter pain.
So why did I, Dennis Wyatt, who has a history of refusing to buy either cigarettes or alcohol for another adult when I go to a store even when they want to give me the money to pay for it, take money out of my own pocket and buy marijuana for a friend even though the smell of it even unlit makes me queasy.
The reason is simple. I prefer they use marijuana that is thoroughly tested with quality controls than something they obtain from an unknown source.
It’s much like alcohol. What Jack Daniels makes is a quantum leap safer than bathtub whiskey or moonshine.
As for that visit to the 209 dispensary, this might sound a bit off but the clientele was a couple notches above what you’d see in many liquor stores. You did not see people loitering, homeless sitting anywhere near the place, litter, or kids nearby let alone inside.
One can only imagine if liquor stores were forced to operate like pot dispensaries. They’d have armed security on site. Access would be controlled to so many people at a time. Whoever is going to buy booze wouldn’t simply show ID. They’d have to produce a California driver’s license for entry into a data base.
They would not be able to physically pick out selections on their own. Instead they would be assigned a clerk that never leaves them until after the transaction is completed. Shoplifting is clearly not an issue. And there would be high resolution cameras all over the place with a direct feed to police dispatch.
It would be nice to have liquor stores brought up to the standards Manteca has proposed for pot dispensaries.
It also would be a breath of fresh air if elected leaders clearly favoring pot sales stop misleading people by referencing the majority of Manteca voters that cast ballots in two separate elections in favor of legalizing marijuana sales in California and rural sections of San Joaquin County by automatically assuming they’d want storefront marijuana sales in Manteca or their neighborhood. That specific question was never settled at the ballot box. Why not have it as a question on the November 2022 municipal ballot and remove all doubt? What’s the rush?
If you think people supporting the marijuana sales in the state and rural sections of the county translates automatically into Manteca, then consider this.
Why would a retired county employee who worked with the homeless that lives in Manteca near Northgate Park and advocated heavily for the city to open a homeless shelter five years ago balk when it was suggested it be sited on the northern edge of the city? Her answer was “because it belonged on Moffat Boulevard.” Freely translated, she wanted a homeless shelter but not in her own backyard. Rest assured there are those out there that feel the same way about cannabis dispensaries.
What really isn’t being answered in this debate is the question involving the root of all evil, money.
Both sides are exchanging salvos without realizing that at least four of the council members have repeatedly said over and over again they have no intention of patronizing pot dispensaries in Manteca.
They say it is about the people’s will, the fact it is legal, and the fact people should have choices. What they haven’t talked about except in vague terms is the money.
They mention community benefit. But how much exactly will the community benefit from allowing legal pot sales?
The council has not been pinned down.
Instead they are leaving it to staff to negotiate.
It’s the same city hall that lines the pockets of their peers with consulting fees. It is the same city hall that has been known to play fast and loose with tax dollars for massive payouts to settle personnel lawsuits from less than stellar management. It is the same city hall that couldn’t properly account for $62 million. It is same city hall that failed to notice the city was digging a hole half way to the center of the earth when it came to the water and sewer accounts.
If there is indeed a new day at city hall then the council needs to step up and assure the community that if marijuana sales become legal in Manteca the money they generate for the city after covering the cost of their regulation will go to specific endeavors instead of being used as mad money to squander away.
How about something like 100 percent of the money the city realizes as being essentially a silent partner in pot sales go toward augmenting and not supplanting either funding for the police department or community recreation?
That is still fairly broad and certainly better than the council channeling Joe Isuzu.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at email@example.com