Why a NO on Prop. 19 May Have Been a Good Thing.

By: Grainne Rhuad

Proposition 19 as many of you know is the prop. that would have made the use, growth and possession of weed legal in California.

It obviously didn’t pass, which in truth is a bit of a surprise to most Californians.  It was hugely popular, people know that everyone is smoking pot and the tax revenue was highly touted.

However in reading the proposition there is much to be found that didn’t make its way to main stream news.  It was poorly written and although on the surface looks like it adds protection and rights, this proposition had it been made into law, really provided a lot of places where everyday folks can be penalized and face jail time for nothing.

First off, this prop. provided for individuals over 21 to grow plants on their own property, not rentals, a 5′ X 5′ foot patch of mary jane. To put this in perspective a typical 5’X5′ garden bed can manage 3 tomatoes with some inter-planting of onions and lettuce. As anyone who has ever grown weed knows this is not enough for a year’s supply for a household that say…has 2 or 3 adults using the product, not to mention friends that come over. Pot is a social thing. There would have been in place fees, citations and ultimate arrests for anyone going over the 5’X5′ limit. That’s where the revenue comes in.

Unlike tobacco; marijuana would not be sold in smoke shops, stores, etc. It would be relegated to specially licensed shops that the cities and townships could control in terms of business hours, signage and placement. There were huge spaces for wiggle room to slap a citation on such shops (generating more income) at the whim of law enforcement. In addition these co-ops would be difficult to run as their suppliers which are traditionally home-growers would be limited and corporate growers would charge more.

There was nothing in there about how to deal with work site cannabis use. Unlike alcohol, you cannot test for it and get immediate results. A positive on cannabis shows up weeks and sometimes months after use. Many contracts in our state depend on a drug free certification for their money. However with no way to reliably test if someone smoked cannabis in the morning or last week, they wouldn’t pass this certification and they would not be able to fire anyone as smoking cannabis would be considered a right. Also there is the safety issue; forklifts, heavy equipment, etc. simply shouldn’t be used when someone is high. But the job loss due to loss of contracts is most concerning in a state that is suffering a budget crisis.

There is also the driving issue. There was a provision for law enforcement to arrest someone driving under the influence of pot. However there are not yet any pot “Breathalyzers” and yes there are impairment tests, but a police officer was provided the provision to arrest if he/she suspected someone was impaired. What that boils down to is if someone has been hanging about with pot smokers and the cop on the scene feels like it, they can be arrested just for smelling like weed.

Another glaring disparity was that none of the citation provisions applied to large scale production. That means pot could and would go corporate because that is the only way to avoid all the fees. The taxes on large scale farming were less than for a home farmer as well.

Consider also the fact that this is would have been a state law not a federal law. The Feds could and probably would given that we now have an overabundance of Republicans in office, cut funding to California over this issue. California is in dire straits. We have tapped out the general fund, and the state has been borrowing from county and city governments as they please, (an issue which was also on the ballot). California cannot afford fiscally to lose federal funding for everything. Who’s going pick up the tab? Ryan Seacrest? I think not.

The interesting thing is that for all intents and purposes marijuana is legal in California. Californians can pay a fee to a doctor and get a prescription card that guarantees the right to use it. It also protects the workplace.  Because it is a health issue people cannot be fired, but employers have recourse because workers can be re-assigned for health issues. Also because it is a health issue, Drug and Alcohol agencies and Churches and the like have not been bothering with it. I think this would change if it became more like alcohol and they could then point the abuse finger at someone.

But you have to have a medical problem people out of state often say.   As I wrote in an earlier article, a medical issue is no problem. You can get approved for stress NOS (not otherwise specified) which applies to exactly everyone and things like tinnitus, fatigue and poor sexual function. Mostly anything you can sit in front of a medical marijuana Dr. and pitch works.

The landscape of California has changed. It’s sometimes weird but you cannot drive, walk or bike anywhere without smelling the sweet sensimilla. It is readily available; people can grow more for personal use without this prop. and you can be 18 not 21.

This whole thing reminds one of prohibition. You will notice that during prohibition alcohol was still readily available and small fortunes were made on illegal moonshine.
Funny thing though, when prohibition ended and alcohol was legal again somehow moonshine still was not made legal. People still get arrested for it. It is my fear that this is what this particular prop. aimed to do.

It would be nice to see this herb decriminalized. I also hear the argument that tobacco is readily available. Who do you know that grows their own tobacco? It’s not labor intensive on a small scale. Farmers used to grow it as a matter of course as a medicinal herb for pesticide, treating their livestock and evening enjoyment. This doesn’t happen anymore either, even though it is legal.

It is clear that the rest of the country was looking to California on this issue.  People seem to feel that if California with their shining example of Hollywood glamour does something it will spread its legitimacy to other areas of the country. But what happens in Hollyweird is not real. It is true that it is long past due for the prohibition on this plant to end. Since 1937 when the cannabis tax was enacted continuing with added criminalization it seems past time to make a turn.  But while we are considering change, let’s consider making good decisions and writing laws well.  We have often in our history felt the effects of poorly written but well intended laws that sounded good to people.  California can attest to the debacle of the three strikes law.

My suggestion is to get together and write a better proposal, putting the burden of taxes on big producers and not on the little guys/gals. Take out the abundant citations and loopholes for arrest. Nobody needs to wait on another state to do what they want in theirs, they just need to be determined and get busy.

http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/pdf/english/text-proposed-laws.pdf

16 Comments on “Why a NO on Prop. 19 May Have Been a Good Thing.”

  1. California’s Prop 19 (or “Prop 18” as one stoner told me) was designed for big corporations. Plain and simple. It was written to set the stage for big corporations to corner the market and squeeze out the little guy. From production, to transportation to sales. You’re right. Who can grow what they need (for medicinal purposes or otherwise) on a 5 x 5 plot? I agree. Marijuana should be legalized and taxed. But not at the expence of the folks that what to grow their own. You touched on some good issues in this article that point to a poorly constructed Proposition. One, the Feds would pull all funding for contractors that don’t follow “drug free work place” rules. The Washington Post has a great map on government contracts throughout the nation. California has an enormous number of contracts. Just think of the job losses if Federal funds were pulled. California is already in double diget unemployment. The other concerning issue has to do with public safety and enforcement. About two months ago a young man in our community hit and killed an elementary school teacher that was just about ready to retire. He was under the influence of weed at the time. He’s up for a DUI and vehicular manslaughter. Prop 19 would have allowed for a person to smoke weed up until they get be hind the wheele of a vehicle. How would you measure whether pot impared a person to the point of being unsafe or not under Prop 19? It didn’t stipulate. The science on the effects of THC on the brain is indisputable. It impairs memory and negatively effects the part of the brain that is in charge of perceptions (how fast am I going. How much time just past. etc). Also one joint has 7 times the amount of tar than 1 cigarette. I’m seeing emphysema all over the place in the years to come. How much will that cost our society. And don’t get me started on the effects it has on our helper T cells in our immune system. Don’t get me wrong. I think marijuana needs to be legalized as it is already under Prop 215 (medical marijuana). Now lets just let it be. Ok. I’m done.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, you two. I sort of agree with everything you said, but the fact is: the only way pot will ever be legalized is if the big corporations profit from it. Like I said elsewhere, if something totally clean like Stevia is capable of sending the government into a frenzy, just imagine what they’re thinking about Mary Jane.

  3. A statement i often hear is that because marijuana is a social drug is precisely the reason why the government doesn’t want it legalized. While social drug is casually batted around, there is very little actual examination into its meaning. Marijuana cannot be compared to drinking socialization. In a party where alcohol is served, inebriation tends to put some very fuzzy corners around the sequence of events following the ice breaker. Marijuana, when used without the accompaniment of other drugs, relaxes the mental restraints of communication without impairing the faculty to reason. Because of it’s a relaxant, people find themselves more willing to engage in active conversation, listen to music or focus on internal mental activity when they are stoned. Because it’s a relaxant, the perception of time becomes a little skewed. Because it’s a relaxant, if taken with other drugs, the effects of the other drugs will become amplified. Because it’s a relaxant, it causes people to step back from the knee jerk responses to emotional appeal and appraise what’s really being said. The government doesn’t want us to relax! It would be bad for the medical industry, bad for big business that feeds on our anxieties to have the best, and it would reflect badly on those who wish to take an aggressive military stance.

    On a side note, there are some people who finding smoking marijuana increases their anxieties. Considering the length of time it’s been given its bad rep, i’d venture to say these anxieties were the results of suppressed feelings concerning its illegal aspects and their indoctrinated fears of reefer madness. Marijuana is nothing more than a herb that will grow voluntarily as a weed, or cultivated as a potent drug. It has its place among medicinal herbs and should be recognized for its beneficial properties, which include muscle relaxation, pain relief and ability to increase appetite among the ill. The rest is just the yammering of the pros and cons of vices in general. We all have vices, whether it’s chewing gum, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, social drinking, abusive behavior, or looking at girlie (or boy toy) pictures. Saints are generally unwelcome, so it’s best to just accept each others weaknesses and get on with it.

  4. [Quote=The Late Mitchell Warren]Thanks for your thoughts, you two. I sort of agree with everything you said, but the fact is: the only way pot will ever be legalized is if the big corporations profit from it. [/quote]

    That’s the only reason *anything* is considered “legal” – because some one can make a profit on it somehow while paying plenty of kickbacks to the political class. Thus the reason all the good products are kept off the so-called “open markets” (drugs, unregisted high-powered weapons, specialized military-grade munitions, etc…): as selling such things on the “open markets” threatens the monopoly of the parties that have already bought off the political class (big pharma, tobacco, alcohol and, most especailly, “defense” contractors).

  5. you told me if I promised to visit California, you would introduce me to this legal maryjane thing … so I have to assume that you lead the march against miracle herb, so that I wouldn’t come. A little truth in journalism is needed here …. and I bought a tie-dyed Tshirt so I wouldn’t embarrass you when I ran around neekid … except for the tshirt that is …..

  6. I agree entirely. Nothing ever becomes legal until it is regulated to hell and back and big buisiness is up to their necks in it. The stevia example is a great one. Chaparral tea is still illegal to sell in CA. and other parts of the nation and I have no idea when that will change unless the Lorax decides to allow big buisiness to cut down all the Chaparral trees.

    What I would like to see however is less restriction on home growers and more standards of practice put into place in the workplace so we don’t lose much needed contracts and hence jobs.

    I do believe that cannibis will eventually become legal, I don’t believe for a min. that this is its last chance.

    @Rich I am never embarrassed by other people neekid or otherwise, so come on out I’ll bake.

  7. I tend see this issue more from a criminal justice reform perspective (i.e., the war on “some drugs”) and the collateral consequences of incarceration (which is hugely profitable).

    I have to be honest and say I didn’t pay much mind to this issue because 1) I no longer some weed, and 2) it’s not high on list of priorities. But you raised some very important issues that were never fully discussed at least from the perspective of someone who paid only mild interest.

    Regarding an earlier comment on the effects of marijuana. I smoked weed for many, many years. In fact, at one time I could never imagined living without weed and always assumed I would smoke until I died. Today, I am a practicing Buddhist and one of the precepts I adhere to is to refrain from mood-altering substances. I will say that different people are affected by drugs differently. for quite a few people, smoking weed CAN create anxiety. In fact, toward the end of my using, smoking was making me paranoid. it took me a long time to admit this to myself, because I loved smoking the damn shit so much.

    LOL

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