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How medicinal marijuana in Manteca has gone to pot
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The odds are at least one — if not more — of the five Manteca City Council members know of someone who is ill that has benefitted from medical marijuana.

And it is a certainty that every member has gotten an earful about crime in Manteca.

Serious felony crime as a function of incidents per 1,000 residents has been steadily dropping for over a decade. And in most cases the crime victims know the perpetrators. 

But given the all too familiar sound of gunfire and other crimes that do occur, it would be hard to find someone in Manteca who doesn’t want even less crime unless, of course, there are a criminal.

As far as gang violence is concerned — arguably the top ranking fear of most Mantecans when it comes to crime — it tends to be committed against other gang members or those associated with them. There have been, however, more than a few close calls over the years especially pertaining to drive-by shootings. In one incident a few years back when a drive-by assailant opened fire on a party at least one innocent bystander was injured.

So what does that have to do with medical marijuana?

Manteca Police have noted a significant number of burglaries, home invasions, and assaults are tied to medical marijuana grows — legitimate and some not so legitimate.

It has prompted a few of the medical marijuana users to booby trap the places where they have their growing operation.

And while a few folks commenting on social media about the proposal before the Manteca City Council on Tuesday to pull the plug on allowing marijuana to be grown in Manteca by anyone with a legitimate medical marijuana card claim the biggest infraction among those people has been ignoring the strict guidelines for where the pot can be grown, that is part of the problem.

The smaller medical marijuana pot grows that are under the legal threshold of 24 plants have been known to be hit by juveniles — or young adults — looking for the proverbial quick score. Forget about the pros and cons of research about pot use stunting the brain. It’s a virtual given of nature that most males tend to do impulsive and stupid things before they turn 25 years of age. Still, it is a problem.

But the real issue is those who made a mockery of medicinal marijuana and got their card for $75 after an exhaustive 10 minute medical exam by a doctor they’d never seen before as well as illegal sellers and dealers.

Thanks to the black market — which still flourishes and shows signs of growing in states such as Colorado where the use of recreational marijuana has been legalized — the criminal element can make big money by stealing marijuana and reselling it.

The lines are blurred between the fake and real medicinal marijuana growers as well as the illegal wholesale pot farmers that gut McMansions to make them into elaborate pot greenhouses or dump toxics into the environment by commandeering national forest land to plant marijuana

The lure of big money is why the criminal element has preyed on both. Lathrop Police last month noted they have at least one murder annually tied into the growing and marketing of marijuana each year in their city. Legalizing it holds no reasonable hope that the violence will go away as black markets keep expanding in Colorado much like Internet commerce. It’s a function of price and cost just like what is driving more people to Internet shopping. Black market pot costs the consumer less and the seller profits more.

It may seem like a weird analogy but nothing is more basic with how people act than the price of goods whether it is buying or producing them — the great bargain and the big payoff.

Then there is the of issue pilfered electricity and stolen water. There are real dangers to illegal power connections that go beyond the theft of power. It can start fires at the growing location that can spread to neighboring homes. 

And let’s not forget the odor. Those legitimate medicinal pot growers who have no need to use elaborate methods that the big illegal growers do to conceal the smell of their crops since they are legal nevertheless have thumbed their noses at the very clear and strict city language governing how medical pot may be grown.

As a result, they have unwittingly given up their locations to petty thieves while at the same time annoying neighbors.

Since you would still be able to buy medicinal pot elsewhere and transport it into Manteca for your personal use providing you have a medical marijuana card if the city council pulls the plug, the only argument the council will likely hear countering the proposal to ban all marijuana growing is the cost.

There are those that will argue it costs too much to buy pot at a legal medicinal marijuana dispensary store and that growing it is the only way they can afford it.

Given what careless legal growers and the illegal growers have created in Manteca, good luck with that argument.

Manteca Police have busted a number of 100 plus plant grows including one of more than 700 plans in a five month period ending Nov.  1. They have seized 3.5 tons of pot.

It’s hard to picture the council ignoring that unless, of course, they are smoking something.