Matt Potter 6:30 a.m., May 22
I'm Not "420 Friendly," But "420 Allergic!"
"Sorry, kid...no free trips!" --Herbert Block, from a 1970 cartoon in re: drug abuse.
This fall, we Californians have the opportunity to make legal for all what is only legal for those who are gravely ill. Proposition Nineteen will, in effect, legalize the growing and sale of marijuana for all Californians over eighteen. That means if somebody wants to grow pot for their personal recreational use? Under Prop 19, it will be legal under state law. If they want to buy some "killer bud" legally? Under Prop 19, the State of California will not stand in their way.
The proponents of Prop 19 claim that under this new amendment to the California State Constitution, legalizing weed will actually be a financial boon that will fill the state's cash-starved treasury. How can that be?
A process called "legalization-and-taxation." Much as we do with alcohol and tobacco products, the State of California can--if prop 19 passes--charge an excise tax on any marijuana "legally" sold through a licensed dealer, i.e: a pharamacy or a shop. The same with the seeds for those who prefer to "grow and roll their own."
Forgive me, however, if I sound less than enthused about the whole deal!
First off the bat: You still have the fact that marijuana is a Level I Controlled Substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. This means that the possession, distribution, and use of cannabis is a high-level Federal Felony. Even though the State Of California might "legalize today and get high tonight," the Feds still have the authority to haul your baked butt down to the Metropolitan Correctional Center--in handcuffs--for violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
Eventually, it will be up to the SCOTUS to decide the issue-at-hand (which, by the way, will also decide the Medical Marijuana issue) here: Can a state supercede--by State Constitutional Amendment--a Federal Law by legalizing something that is banned under Federal Law? The way that the current makeup of the SCOTUS looks--looks like two-to-one odds the issue will be decided in favor of the Federal Government. Looks like a bummer in the making for those in favor of Prop 19...as in a face-planting wipeout!
Then, of course, you have the practical problems dealing with those who regard the passage of Prop 19 as their license to enjoy their spliff of Jamacian Red wherever they please. I seriously doubt that to be true, despite the "claims" that weed is "less dangerous" than booze.
Public intoxication, no matter the source, is still a hazard. Putting someone behind the wheel of a car, for example, buzzed on Maui Wowwee doesn't strike me as truly smart, nor sane. If you are going to drive in such a manner, do yourself a favor and cancel your auto insurance policy first. Because if you get nailed for a DWI-Weed (just as with DWI-Booze, Cough Syrup, Cold Medicine, ect. ad nauseaum)? Your policy WILL get yanked upon conviction. Just as somebody busted for drunk-or-drugged driving how much fun they had just to get a provisional CDL from the DMV afterwards!
Add to that some other fun stuff: 1) Not everbody will be wanting to get a contact high from your joint of Hindu Kush. In fact, I am allergic to marijuana smoke, as in "Epinephrine and Benadryl"-level allergic. I can think of no other way to really ruin my day than to spend time in the Emergency Department of a local hospital dealing with anaphylatic shock (standard treatment is 0.5mg of epinephrine injected IM, plus 50mgs of Benadryl given by mouth, or via IM (InterMuscular) injection in the hip.) all because some Bake-O didn't heed my request to put out his stick of love grass. (This is why, in the core, I will NEVER be "420 friendly." Being "420 Allergic" cramps my lifestyle, but being dead from anaphylatic shock caused by burning hippie lettuce is a real, one-way bummer!)
2) Just like booze, marijuana is considered a "gateway drug" that leads to harder drugs, such as cocaine, meth, heroin, and mescaline. Don't take just my word for it. Both my dad and my late wife were part of their respective services' medical branches (Dad was a Navy Hospital Corpsman, Melanie was a Combat Medic/Substance Abuse Counselor in the Army). They both told me that a lot of the enlisted personel they had to treat (and later supervise) got their habit-in-question out of starting out with either booze or weed (and sometimes both).
In both services, mandatory drug testing has weeded out a lot of druggies. The way they deal with those who flunk lunch during "Operation Golden Flow" (nickname for a drug urinalysis screen, see also "Whizz Quizz") is two-tiered. For NCOs at E-5 rank (Sergeant in the Army, and Marines, Staff Sergeant in the Air Force, Petty Officer Second Class in the Navy and Coast Guard) and all warrant and commsioned officers, it's simple. ONE positive UA screen for controlled substances means "six, six, and the boot (six months loss of pay, six months confinement, and a Bad Conduct Discharge (or a Dishonorable discharge, if the judge at the General court martial wants to make an example of the (soon to be ex) service menber-in-question.))."
For E-4 level enlisted and below (Corporals in the Army and Marines, Air Force Sergeants (or Seinor Airmen), and Petty Officer Third Classes in the Navy and Coast Guard), it's Non-Judicial Punishment, a chewing out by the company CO, and possibly being sent to the military version of Subsance Abuse Rehab. A second positive test means "six-six-and the boot."
Then there is this factor to consider: As of right now, neither political party here in California is endorsing Prop 19. The GOP is in-your-mush against it, while the Democrats are currently "neutral" regarding thec issue (look for them to swing to the "against" position before the November General Election. About the only party supporting Prop 19 ae the Libertarians (who have a traditiion of supporting drug legalization to begin with).
With all of that, I daresay that come November 9th, recreational marijuana use will still be against California State Law--for Propsition 19 will go up in smoke courtesy of the voters! Another "pipe dream" of the drug legalization forces avails to naught.
But, I could be wrong! After all, despit the proclamation of the Chicago Tribune in 1948, Truman did defeat Dewey!