2 Sides of Pot Debate
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2 Sides of Pot Debate
Posted by CN Staff on October 17, 2010 at 09:10:15 PT
By Guy Kovner, The Press Democrat
Source: Press Democrat
Santa Rosa, CA -- In his white cowboy hat, bluejeans and boots, John Pinches might seem an unlikely champion for the legalization of marijuana. Pinches, a Mendocino County rancher, businessman, grandfather and two-term county supervisor who once called himself an "old hillbilly," has no personal taste for the intoxicating weed."To me, it's overrated, kind of like warm beer," he said, sitting in his Ukiah office with family photos and maps plastered on the walls.
But with Proposition 19 on the Nov. 2 ballot -- and California a majority vote away from the most sweeping embrace of marijuana in modern history -- Pinches is in the spotlight.The British Broadcasting Corp. and National Geographic have sought him out, and Pinches is back to explaining his "common sense" conclusion that people should be free to grow and smoke their own pot in peace."Isn't that what America is all about?" he asked, calling marijuana use a "victimless crime.""Shouldn't you have certain rights in your own home?"Prohibition, including California law enforcement's seizure of more than 17 million marijuana plants since 1983, hasn't worked, Pinches said.In Mendocino County, one of the nation's top illegal pot cultivation spots, the seizures have been "the best farm-price support ever" by curbing supply and keeping prices high, he said.Michael Spielman, executive director of the Santa Rosa-based Drug Abuse Alternatives Center, said he is leery of legalization because it would increase youth exposure to marijuana."Use goes up, more kids get affected," he said.Health officials point to evidence that marijuana can cause respiratory damage, increased risk of heart attack and psychosis and harm to fetuses in pregnant women who smoke pot.Violent crime related to marijuana will likely continue and "may even increase" with legalization, Sonoma County Sheriff Bill Cogbill said. 1 Billion Joints a Year  Californians consume 500 tons -- or 1 billion joints, typically less than half a gram each -- of marijuana a year, according to a RAND Corp. think tank report on Proposition 19.Legalization would cut the price of pot by as much as 80 percent and could increase consumption by 50 percent to 100 percent or more, the report said.If marijuana use doubled, it would bring California close to the rate of consumption in the late 1970s, when 13 percent of the population reported using pot, the report said.Proposition 19 would permit possession in public of up to an ounce of pot, as well as cultivation for personal use. Cities and counties would be allowed to authorize, and tax, commercial production and sale of pot.Several polls give the ballot measure a plurality of voter support, but neither the "yes" or "no" faction is waging much of a campaign.Campaign spending on Proposition 19, the brainchild of Oakland marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, totals about $2 million for both sides, a fraction of the more than $80 million spent on the contentious battle over same-sex marriage in 2008. Measure Called Vague Opponents say that legalizing recreational marijuana use will jeopardize public safety, thwart drug-free workplace measures and provoke confusion because the ballot measure is overly vague.U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said passage of Proposition 19 would "significantly undermine" efforts to keep California communities safe. The government will "vigorously enforce" federal prohibitions against recreational marijuana use, he said.Backers say it's time for a new approach to pot, that adults should be free to grow their own and that California cities and counties should have the right to regulate and tax the here-to-stay marijuana culture."It's rampant," said Valerie Brown, chairwoman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. "It's got to be controlled."The board voted unanimously in August to oppose Proposition 19 because it sets no standards for regulating commercial marijuana operations, Brown said, but a turnabout will be needed if the measure passes.Sonoma County, in that case, should "move fairly quickly" to develop a regional policy with Lake, Napa, Marin and possibly Solano counties. Mendocino and Humboldt counties might be included, too, but Brown said they tend to be "less restrictive than we are" on marijuana matters. Tax Revenue Eyed  Brown thinks most of California's 58 counties would permit pot sales in order to reap tax revenues. "We're all hurting for funding right now," she said.Santa Rosa Mayor Susan Gorin said the prospect of pot revenue is "somewhat attractive," but that legal and social concerns may transcend economics.For example, Gorin said she could imagine a Santa Rosa resident raising nuisance complaints over the aroma, perceived as a "stench," from a neighbor's outdoor pot patch."I don't think many jurisdictions are going to blithely allow this to happen for the revenue considerations," Gorin said. "The old phrase 'penny-wise and pound-foolish' comes to mind."Ann Peck, an attorney in the Sonoma County counsel's office, said the ballot measure is vague but entrepreneurs will jump at the chance to sell pot."I have no doubt they will come knocking on our door," she said. "At this point I do not know what we would say to them."Sebastopol's City Council, on a 3-2 vote in June, backed away from putting a 5 percent marijuana business tax on the November ballot. No other local agency has officially broached the idea.San Jose, Berkeley and Sacramento have put marijuana taxes on the ballot in anticipation of the initiative's passage. "Uncharted Territory"  "California would be stepping into uncharted territory," said Beau Kilmer, lead author of the RAND report, titled "Altered State?"No modern nation has legalized commercial marijuana production, Kilmer said, leaving researchers with scant evidence for estimating the proposition's impact on marijuana consumption or tax revenues.The Netherlands legalized retail distribution -- giving rise to Amsterdam's famous cannabis cafes -- but does not sanction pot production.Legalization would cut the cost of weed by at least 80 percent, the RAND researchers wrote, estimating the number of California marijuana users at 4.2 million.But how the price plunge would affect consumption, and the validity of Proposition 19's promise of "billions of dollars for our state and local government" remains uncertain, Kilmer said.That California would be the first state to entertain pot legalization was inevitable, said Elaine Leeder, a Sonoma State University sociology professor.Marijuana and same-sex marriage are social movements "whose time has come," Leeder said. Both are in the third phase of movements, known to academics as institutionalization.Abolition of slavery, woman suffrage and civil rights are movements that migrated over time from society's margins to mainstream acceptance, she said.A Gallup poll last year found that 44 percent of Americans favored marijuana legalization, the peak in a fairly steady climb from 12 percent acceptance in 1970. Opposition over the same period has fallen from 84 percent in 1970 to 54 percent in 2009.In the West, a 53 percent majority favored decriminalization and taxing of marijuana, the poll said."We are going to continue to battle over these quality-of-life issues," SSU political scientist David McCuan said, predicting that pot and gay marriage will eventually be sanctioned.But Proposition 19 is largely a cipher, he said, intended to "raise the issue" of marijuana legalization rather than change the law.If it were to pass, McCuan said, the measure would be "tied up in court forever." Worry Over Teens  Spielman, a recovering addict who has worked at the local drug treatment center for 30 years, said he is personally opposed to Proposition 19.He said that among teenage pot users, he observes "amotivational syndrome," a diminished engagement in social relationships and schoolwork."I have seen enough kids affected by it, and that makes me nervous about (legalizing) it," he said.Proposition 19 would retain criminal sanctions for those under 21 who use or cultivate marijuana.The RAND report said there were 181 marijuana-related hospital admissions and 32,000 drug treatment program admissions a year in California. It also said that "serious, acute health problems" due to moderate or even excessive marijuana use were rare.According to the latest California Healthy Kids Survey, 26 percent of Sonoma County high school juniors said they were using marijuana in 2008, well above the statewide rate of 16 percent.Three-fourths of the students said that pot was "very easy" or "fairly easy" to obtain.Medical marijuana, legal since 1996 in California, helped make cannabis commonplace, Spielman said. "The pot doctors advertise on 101, for God's sake," he said.Robert Jacob, executive director of Peace in Medicine Healing Center, a Sebastopol medical marijuana dispensary, said he has no objection to Proposition 19.The measure is about recreational pot use, and has "nothing to do with medical cannabis," he said."With our current laws, we ruin people's lives for possession of marijuana," Jacob said.The California Chamber of Commerce came out against Proposition 19 in August, contending that it "blurs the line" on whether employers must tolerate workers showing up stoned or smoking on the job. Drug Tests at Issue  Erika Frank, the chamber's attorney, said it's clear that employers could no longer reject a job applicant who failed a test for marijuana.What's troubling, she said, is the measure's provision that employers can deal with marijuana use that "actually impairs" job performance. "It's a standard that does not exist today," she said.Pinches, who owns a 1,000-acre cattle and sheep ranch in the far northeast end of Mendocino County, said there may well be marijuana growing in secret on his land.But since his livestock often run onto neighbors' land, he couldn't complain about pot sprouting on his spread.If marijuana is not legalized in November, he said, it will be back on future state ballots."There is an insatiable demand for marijuana out there," Pinches said. "People are going to get it."Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)Author: Guy Kovner, The Press DemocratPublished: Sunday, October 17, 2010 Copyright: 2010 The Press DemocratContact: letters pressdemo.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #7 posted by Storm Crow on October 18, 2010 at 12:25:59 PT
I just hope Florida listens to PUFMM!
Florida is special for me, my Dad was born in Jacksonville and I spent several wonderful summers there. With the large population of retirees, they really NEED medical cannabis in Florida! 
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Comment #6 posted by The GCW on October 18, 2010 at 05:44:22 PT
Had Enough,
Your welcome,I was glad to see the poll.
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Comment #5 posted by Had Enough on October 17, 2010 at 21:02:11 PT
Storm Crow
Thank you for posting in the comment section of that blog thing.Your link is on the PUFMM website.Found here...scroll down a bit... you too!!!..For all you do...We are all in this together...
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on October 17, 2010 at 14:14:31 PT
Don't mind if I do
About that poll in commonte #1:I take those votes in the catagory: I forgot the question. I'm hungry. (31 responses) 4%as votes for: Absolutely. Lots of people use it, and its harmful effects are overblown. It's about time the state and the country start to bringing in lots more tax money by legalizing it. (640 responses) 78%That would bring it up to 671 responses and 82%
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Comment #3 posted by RevRayGreen on October 17, 2010 at 12:56:16 PT
The Green Rush to Green Central Station Show#9 20 minutes did not have the camera screen set, none the less we had an awesome interview with Casey Casseday, the Producer of the Award winning documentary 'The Green Rush' calls into Green Central Station from California. Videos from 'The Green Rush', music by 'Trolls Cottage' (from Washington) 'LET IT BURN', Green Central Station promos, 'The Deacon' was not on camera(look for cameo) but came down the skywalk to studios for some emergency tech support. Thanks a million Deacon.
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Comment #2 posted by Had Enough on October 17, 2010 at 12:00:44 PT
Comment section of Orlando Sentinel
There is quite the debate going on in the comment section between ‘dolphan’ (prohibisinist) and ‘PUFMMgieseghj’ one of the organizers/creators from People United for Medical Marijuana – PUFMM.Comment section for Orlando Sentinel***People United for Medical Marijuana – PUFMM
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Comment #1 posted by Had Enough on October 17, 2010 at 11:25:28 PT
Florida Poll - Orlando Sentinel 
What do you think?Should laws in Florida and across the country be changed to make marijuana legal?·	Absolutely. Lots of people use it, and its harmful effects are overblown. It's about time the state and the country start to bringing in lots more tax money by legalizing it. (640 responses)
78%·	No way. Marijuana use can lead to stronger drugs. The government shouldn't be making it easier for people to get hooked on drugs. (54 responses)
7%·	Yes, but only for legitimate health reasons. (51 responses)
6%·	No. The health and social costs of more people smoking pot would be too great. (46 responses)
6%·	I forgot the question. I'm hungry. (31 responses)
4%Should Florida legalize pot?,0,4008735.story************People United for Medical Marijuana - Florida
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