Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Five Top Reasons To Vote NO on Proposition 19

According After reading Proposition 19 several times, I've boiled down my objections to the legalization of marijuana via this measure to five major objections.  This doesn't mean I couldn't come up with another six or seven, but these five stand out to me the most.

First,  the possession, cultivation and distribution of pot will still remain illegal according to federal law.  If Proposition 19 passes, the vote of Californian voters will not change the federal government's refusal to legalize pot.  Attorney General Eric Holder warned Californians that if Proposition 19 passes, the feds will continue to prosecute those who are caught in possession of illegal pot. If you proceed to grow your marijuana garden in a "legal" 5x5 parcel according to Proposition 19, you run the chance of getting busted by the feds.

According to the 1988 Drug Free Workplace Act, it "requires some Federal contractors and all Federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a Federal agency."  Though the Drug Free Workplace Act does not require drug testing, there are notification requirements if an employee has been convicted of a criminal drug violation in the workplace.

For all those government jobs created by the Obama administration, pot smokers are to beware. An employer can take action against you if it determined that your work performance is being affected by your usage of pot.  

In addition, since pot smokers are to smoke only in non-public places such as their personal residence in accordance with Prop 19, the federal ban on pot would not allow a user of marijuana to smoke a joint in Section 8 or any housing paid for by the U.S. government. If the possession and cultivation of pot is against federal law, how can a marijuana addict smoke weed on federal property? 

If a pot smokers has a job that is a recipient of a federal grant, their use of pot could jeopardize the continuation of the grant since they are in violation of the 1988 federal law.  Is the company you work for (receiving federal funding) going to allow you to endanger their continuation of receiving a grant or permit you to smoke pot on a smoke break somewhere on their premises?   These issues are not addressed in Proposition 19 thus leaving a gaping hole on the federal vs. state's rights issue.

Second,  in Proposition 19 the state of California is being given the option of legalizing a harmful hallucinogenic for the sake of bringing revenue into our lagging economy.  Why stop at pot?  Why not legalize prostitution and have the state regulate and tax any engagement a person may have with a hooker?  

The legalization of pot in California will not decrease the number of pot users among youth, but because of its accessibility we can expect an increase in pot smoking.  That increase will translate itself into more youth enrolled in rehab and treatment programs for marijuana addiction.  

The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske states that the number of adolescents enrolled in marijuana rehabilitation program is higher than ever. "In California  47% of those undergoing drug treatment for marijuana in 2008 either voluntarily or after encounters with the criminal justice system, were under 18, compared to 28% for the country as a whole" (AP/KNX 1070).  

Shame on us as Californians that we would legalize a harmful drug and make it easier for our youth to gain access to weed just so we can add more revenue to our bankrupt economy. Where are our morals and concern for future generations?

Third, the claim that legalizing pot will bring billions into the California budget is erroneous.  The official title of Proposition 19 is "The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.  Consider the words: regulate, control and tax.  It will cost money for local governments in cities where pot shops exist to license,  regulate and impose taxes on these retail establishments. It will also cost the state of California to regulate cities were pot shops exist. 

Proposition 19 encumbers local governments with the responsibility to control these licensed pot shops in regards to their sales, cultivation of pot,  possession for sale and on premise consumption of marijuana (Article 5 Section 11301.h). 

 Local governments will also have to regulate location, hours of operation, occupancy, protection of nearby properties and persons from unwanted exposure to pot smoke, signs and advertising.  All that revenue that allegedly will come from pot sales will be redirected to subsidize local governments so they can effectively control pot retail shops in accordance with Proposition 19. Follow the money. 

Also, if the rate of pot usage among youth increases with the passage of Proposition 19 and violators of the law are court ordered to attend a drug rehab treatment program, where is the money going to come from to cover the increase of drug rehab patients?  To be fair, the funds should come from the revenue that comes from the sale of pot.

What we have here by those who support Prop 19 is a failure to read the particulars of the bill. I suggest those who are considering a YES vote on this measure to carefully read Article 5, Section 11301 h-m.

Fourth, the passage of Proposition 19 will not only increase the number of pot smokers, but will add a new generation of drug dealers. According to the measure, individuals twenty-one years of age and older will be able to possess an ounce of pot. In addition, they will be permitted to cultivate marijuana on a 5 x 5 parcel of land, assuming their landlord or homeowner's association will be tolerant of pot cultivation. 

If twenty-one year olds are permitted to possess and cultivate pot, the chances are very high that teens will attempt to purchase pot illegally through young adults.  Most teens who smoke pot obtain their stash through friends, but where do their friends score their weed.  According to my own observance and experience, college kids and older adults scout out one teen who serves as their conduit to sell pot to both middle school and high school students. In discussions with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department my observations are accurate. 

If Prop 19 passes, an individual who grows pot can only possess one ounce out of his garden. He cannot sell or distribute the weed that comes from his garden lest he break both state and federal law.   

For the argument's sake, let's say unless you have a 25 square foot plot of land to cultivate pot, where will you buy pot? Answer:  you'll be forced to go to a retail pot shop and purchase taxed marijuana.  Based on section 11301 of the measure, the overhead for operating a pot shop could be quite high.  And who will  pay for the overhead needed to run these shops?  The consumer, of course. So pot smokers can expect to pay a high price for an ounce of premium grass.

With higher priced, premium pot, smokers may think twice about buying marijuana at the corner pot retail outlet.  Rather, they may be tempted to score pot the old fashioned way through a pot dealer-twenty one years and older.  who has home-grown cannabis for sale. Would a pothead really want to pay all that extra cash for retail pot when they can buy an ounce much cheaper from the dude down the street with a blooming garden of weed? 

Are we that foolish to think pot smokers are going to buy taxed pot at a retail price?  

Last, pot smoking on the job is going to cause havoc in the workplace.  The proposition makes it clear that an employer can forbid his employees from indulging in weed if it impairs their performance on the job.  

However, we are allowing that employer to make that subjective choice. What if the owner of a gas station has no problems if his mechanics smoke pot on the job? You take your car to that shop to have your brakes repaired, and Beavis is installing your brakes.  You'd have to be a Butthead to do business at this establishment, wouldn't you?

As a consumer I would want to know if an auto repair establishment is drug free.  What if a private bus company allows its employees to smoke dope on the job and you get on a bus with a stoner at the wheel who's flying high?  

If pot becomes legal, we will enter into a legal nightmare of people suing companies for damages caused by "legally" stoned employees who work under impaired conditions. Section 11300 b.3 states no one will operate a vehicle under the influence of pot. However, pot smokers argue that they are not impaired by their usage of pot.  

At a recent panel I asked college students the question, "How many of you would board a plane operated by a pilot who just smoked two joints?" The response was mixed, but most respondents felt uncomfortable having a stoned pilot operate delicate instruments in the cockpit and placing their lives into the hands of a pothead pilot. 

There are many more objections I can raise, but these are some of my practical concerns I raise through my reading of the measure and from my personal interaction with potheads.  

My advice is to vote a big NO on Proposition 19 on November 2.  If marijuana is legalized here, we can expect more and more Beavis' and Buttheads pouring into the Golden State.  Why not?  Pot would be legal and they can smoke dope to their hearts content. God forbid. 


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Too Stoned To See Through Marijuana Proposition 19

I've thought through the Proposition 19 issue and read a lot of pros and cons on the issue. After my head cleared, I felt unimpaired enough to write an article explaining why I will vote "no" on Proposition 19. 
First, proponents of Proposition 19 refuse to see that legalizing pot will increase marijuana consumption. If you make it easier for individuals to obtain pot, they will take advantage of the easy access to the "now" decriminalized weed. Legalizing pot will make it much easier for those who wanted to experiment with smoking dope but were reticent because it is against the law. This argument is a no-brainer.
In addition, the legalization will increase the number of drug dealers. According to my experience and speaking with police, most minors currently obtain pot from college age kids and adults. Proposition 19 gives twenty one year olds the ability to buy pot and you'd have to be totally TUI (thinking under the influence) to not believe young adult pot smokers will be "good law-abiding boys and girls" and not sell marijuana to sell it to minors. The teens I have come in contact with obtain their pot from their friends who purchased the weed from a college student or an adult who has a card that enables them to buy "medicinal" marijuana.

Yes,  Proposition 19 states that a person can possess no more than an ounce of pot legally.  How are the police going to stop adults from possessing more than an ounce.  I can go into ten pot shops, buy an ounce at each one and then go out and sell my ten ounces for a profit. It will take a lot of regulation to keep one person from purchasing more than an ounce. This scenario is happening right now as medicinal marijuana cardholders visit more than one clinic to score as much pot as they want.  Some clinics are connected to a computer system to prevent this from happening but the dude selling pot out of his upstairs pad could care less how many times you stashed up on pot in a given day. 
Second, proponents of Proposition 19 claim  that with the passing of this Proposition, police will no longer have to deal with arresting people for pot possession, but can concentrate on more important matters. Yet if you read the Proposition, you discover a lot more laws the police will need to enforce:  as stated above, the amount of marijuana an adult can possess is one ounce; pot can only be cultivated within a 25 square foot area; legalized pot cannot be sold to others; consumption of legalized pot can only take place in a residence or non-public place and an adult 21 years or older cannot give pot to a minor.In light of the specific laws contained within Proposition 19,  the police are forced to do more micro-policing than before.

If I know my thirty five year old neighbor is smoking dope in front of his two year old, I'm going to call the cops. Do you think they're going to take me seriously?  Perhaps I should just call Child Protective Services and report my neighbor for child endangerment. 
Third, proponents of Proposition 19 claim the sale of pot will bring $1.4 million into the California budget. The proposition claims that its purpose is to "tax and regulate cannabis in order to generate billions of dollars for our state."  Yet, the proposition does not set up any government regulatory agency or impose a state-wide tax on pot. Will we now need to set up a bureaucratic agency to regulate pot? 
Also, the proposition states each local government can set up its own regulation and taxes on the selling of pot. If you were going to buy pot, would you buy it from a pre-tax source to avoid taxes or a retail store and pay a tax? Perhaps you would drive from Woodland Hills where pot is sold at a 8% tax and go into Brentwood where you can get pot with a 4% tax attached. Let me make it clear that Proposition 19 does not contain specific provisions at the state level governing taxation or retail sale of marijuana. Local jurisdictions, according to the California State Board of Equalization are free under Prop 19 to impose licensing fees or enforce different tax rates or schemes.

Proponents of the marijuana proposition also do not take into account the state fees that will have to be channelled to court ordered drug rehabilitation programs for teens and adults who are abusing the drug.  I know of teens who have been arrested for  grand theft of a person to obtain money to buy pot, were sent to juvenile court and were ordered to a state funded drug rehab facility.  Who is paying for this teen's drug rehab therapy?  You and I, the taxpayers of California. With the increase of consumption of pot among teens will also advance the number of adolescents who will need to attend a drug rehab program, whether it is state funded or paid for by parents. 
Fourth, Proposition 19 provides that employers cannot discriminate and fire workers who use pot unless the employer can prove the pot impaired the worker's performance. It's true that under Proposition 19 any employer can refuse to allow pot smoking during work hours. However, other businesses may be more lenient. 
Fifth, Proposition 19 maintains the DUI laws are not altered under this proposition. Even so, highway patrol officers are going to have a hard time proving a person is impaired from smoking too much pot.  How much pot is too much? Yes, the police can conduct a field test (with outstretched arms touching one's nose).  If they conduct a blood test, it proves nothing since marijuana can be detected in your system for thirty days.  
Proposition 19 allows a person to smoke dope prior to entering a vehicle, but there exists no standard for the police to use (other than an unreliable drug field test) to prove a person is too impaired to drive.  Only if an accident occurs, will the Court be able to conduct a full investigation on how much a person's pot smoking influenced a driver enough to cause an accident.

Californians, please don't get a contact high from all the Proposition 19 proponents and cast your vote while under their influence. Clear you head by November 2  and vote "no" on the flawed and confusing Proposition 19.