Thinking Outside the Blog, written by Louis Lapides offers readers a much - needed pit stop to help us refine our thinking on life's big issues. In his blog Louis steers us outside those comfortable mental roads we often travel on when it comes to the way we think about God, religion, politics and culture. Thinking Outside the Blog maps out a highway of wisdom that must be revisited over and over.
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.