Biased people making biased arguments…

One thing I hate about elections is how the various issues cycle through importance. For the past couple weeks, Measure H has been the major measure locally. While it’s important in terms of determining who controls the budget, the City or the unions, it’s not titillating stuff. In fact, it’s pretty fucking boring. Especially because, even if Fire prevails in defeating Measure H, their labor contract is up next year and it’s not going to be pretty. Essentially Fire is spending $100K on a campaign to stave of the complete evisceration of their budget for a year. Same thing is going to happen to the police department, but at least they’re going off into the night quietly (except for a few bitchy billboards of course, the highest level of political discourse).

But that’s last week’s news. This week? We’re back to our old friend marijuana. What are those dirty hippies not telling us about Prop 19? Well who better to ask than the people whose very livelihood depends on the drug remaining technically illegal?

Over at the Lodi News Sentinel is a story penned by Lodi Police Officer Chris Piombo where he suggests (and the headline flat-out says) that if Prop 19 is passed it means people will openly be growing marijuana in view of elementary schools! That’s a fantastically effective scare tactic, or at least it would be if it were anything resembling true. It would also be more effective if he didn’t contradict his own line of thinking within the column.

As Piombo notes (while displaying his knowledge of the subject by spelling it “cannibis”), the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010  really gives most of the regulatory power to the cities. He uses this as an example to discredit the tax-revenue portion of the proposition, but ignores the fact that it also kills his pot plants in plain sight theory. Is there a possibility that the passage of Prop 19 would result in front yards composed of hippie grass instead of crab grass? I guess so, if Lodi wants to be the most irresponsible city north of Bell, CA. Opponents of Prop 19 like to throw out all these hypothetical situations where pot culture is thrust upon an innocent, unsuspecting city, but they leave out the part that it’s all dependant on what action the individual cities take after it more than likely passes.

Only discussing the side that bolsters his argument is the theme of this column apparently. After questioning the admittedly questionable $15 billion in tax revenue Prop 19 supporters claim it will generate (although it’s questionable because of the resulting price drop post-legalization, not because of shoddy dealer polling as Piombo suggests), he goes after the flaws in the medical marijuana law. Hooray for liberal use of quotations to denote skepticism!

According to Piombo, all the Compassionate Use Act did was open the door for stoners with “medical conditions” like “back pain” and “severe migraines” to smoke weed instead of taking Advil. How did he come to this conclusion? Because in his 4 years on the Special Investigation Unit, not once did they encounter someone with a prescription for cannabis based on “real medical conditions” like “glaucoma”, “chemotherapy”, and “dying”. The Record had no problem finding these people when the medical marijuana topic cropped up in Stockton, what gives? Well, it’s kind of hard to find those people working on the Special Investigations Unit when those people aren’t breaking the fucking law! Of course Lodi PD found a bunch of people with a flimsy excuse exploiting the law, those are sort of the people they’re supposed to be finding. On top of that, should we really be listening to a Lodi Police Officer’s opinion on medical marijuana enforcement after this hilarious clusterfuck?

Finally, he points out that while marijuana is supposed to ease pain related to “cancer”, smoking it can cause cancer (without condescending quotes)! This shit is a pharmaceutical company’s dream! It causes the malady it’s supposed help out with! Only it’s not really that simple. For one, Piombo is woefully ill-informed if he believes this quote:

“There are no filters on the cigarettes, and in order to get high you have to suck the carcinogenic smoke into your lungs.”

While it’s true marijuana cigarettes (or joints to people under the age of 60) are unfiltered and inhaling their smoke can damage your lungs, smoke inhalation is hardly a requirement to get high. As I’ve pointed out before, marijuana dispensaries actually increase the number of healthy THC-delivery methods. Smoke inhalation isn’t what gets you high, the THC in it is. Smoking is just one way to get the THC into your blood stream. Having dispensaries makes it easier for obtain things like edibles. Have you ever looked up the process of making homemade Cannabutter? I couldn’t even tell you what a cheesecloth looks like. And that’s before you consider you have to make brownies from scratch that way. It’s an incredible pain in the ass. Piombo also ignores the numerous filtration methods like water pipes (aka bongs) that filter out a lot of the carcinogen’s he’s so worried about.

I appreciate his effort but it was a horribly biased, flawed effort. At least he didn’t break out the gateway drug argument. If he did than the increasingly ineffective drug prevention programs in Modesto’s schools would have nothing to talk about.

Apparently kids aren’t buying into what they’re selling anymore. And by that I mean the people running those programs are finally realizing how futile their efforts have been all along. The lede to that Modesto Bee story claims that educators are concerned that their drug prevention programs “could lose credibility” if/when Prop 19 passes. It’s hilarious that they thought they had any credibility in the first place. I remember those assemblies when I was a kid, they were fucking useless. It was a bunch of old people trying to pretend they were your friend while warning you of the evils of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, meth, etc. We all knew it was bullshit and we were 10. We were afraid to even say the word bullshit, but even then we recognized that the guy spouting dated 80s references in the mid-90s in a poor attempt to relate to us has something of an agenda.

But let’s get back to the tired issue at hand, is marijuana a gateway drug? It can be, but it’s not as simple as that. You have to ask why can marijuana become a gateway drug? The answer is pretty simple, it’s because of the scare tactics drug prevention programs use. Marijuana can become a gateway drug because drug prevention programs lump marijuana in with all the other actually bad drugs, killing the credibility of their entire argument.

There’s a reason drug prevention programs don’t work, it’s because they make it a black and white issue when it’s really numerous shades of grey. Once teens discover that the real consequence of saying yes instead of “just saying no” to pot is a sudden affinity for Fun-yuns, the rest of the house of cards comes tumbling down. Once that happens, you start wondering if all that stuff they were saying about cocaine or meth was bullshit too even though it isn’t. Those are horrible horrible drugs, but the gateway to those drugs is opened by people exaggerating the negative effects of marijuana, not by marijuana itself.

Both of these anti-Prop 19 arguments are being made by people with obvious ulterior motives. The Lodi Police Department is facing the possibility of having to actually learn and enforce a bunch of new marijuana laws and drug prevention programs having to come to terms with the fact that they lost their war on drugs. They’re just two groups afraid of change and the times are changing. If they were smart, they’d let this small battle go and get a head start on adapting to that change. Which, surprisingly, is something Stockton finally did by finally addressing medical marijuana. Hooray for having a small head start for once!

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~ by Slick Diaz on October 11, 2010.

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