In California

At the end of last month Gov. Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1449 into law. The new law makes the possession of one ounce or less of cannabis an infraction incurring a $100.00 penalty.

“Wait a minute,” you might be thinking, “I thought California’s penalty for that was a 100 bone fine all-the-ready?” Okay… maybe you weren’t thinking that, but, I’ll explain anyway.

Yes, it was. The thing is, it was a misdemeanor. That meant arrest, a possible  criminal record and standing before the judge. The new law means no more judge. No more record. Now it’s like getting a ticket. “Sign here, send your check or money order here.”

Arny doesn’t back California’s Prop 19; the proposition that would legalize possession of less than one ounce. Some folks theorize that this recent move is an effort to manipulate the upcoming vote. As yet, I haven’t formed an opinion on the matter. I do think eliminating the criminal record aspect is definitely a move in the right direction. That’s a no-brainer, though possibly moot here come November.

Arnold gives the following rational for the new law: “In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket.”

According to a NORML website, I just referenced, there were 61,164 misdemeanor cannabis arrests last year. Referencing another website, this time a release by Edmund G. Brown Jr., the California Attorney General, there were 174,580 violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery, assault) in the state during the same time period. Referencing YET ANOTHER website, this time the California Crime Victims for Alternatives, during the period of  1999 to 2008, 46% of the murders were unsolved.

So now we’ll look at the opposition to Prop 19’s opinion on the matter. Some cat I’ve never heard of, Roger Salazar, who is a spokesman for the No On Prop. 19 group says that the new law negates the argument that legalizing cannabis would let the police focus on dangerous crimes. Hmm, that sounds somewhat reasonable given the above numbers.

(Web search… salizar… No On…)

Oh I see. Salizar is a hired hand. The No On Prop. 19 is the outfit the beer distributing companies donated ten grand to here recently.

And this here, ladies and gentleman, is why I don’t watch much TV. The entertainment is in the real world. I suppose the down side there, though, is it is real. Real lives are at stake.

Damn, I hope the California voters pass 19.  Let’s end the madness.

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8 Comments

  1. Dan Jacobs said,

    October 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    If the beer folks were smart, they would realize they have a lot to gain from the legalization movement. Thirsty folks might want to drink beer, beer drinkers might want to smoke a little pot now and then. The two sides may have more in common than they think they do, than they may want to admit.

  2. capndrift said,

    October 4, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Hmm. I’m sitting here thinking about the habits of people I know.

    Many (the majority?) of the medicinal users I’m associated with don’t imbibe alcoholic beverages. That’s not relative to the conversation though, I guess. In California just about any little thing qualifies an individual for a “card.” Things are a tad different here in Washington State.

    Most of the recreational users I know also drink. I’m having a tough time recalling anyone that doesn’t. As a general statement (in my experience) the ratio with medicinal and recreational users does, sort of, a flip flop.

    I suppose the third category (now I’m “categorizing” people? Shame on me!) of folks I associate with would be those that drink alcohol but don’t use cannabis at all. Racking my feeble mind a bit more, I can’t think of a single one that doesn’t use cannabis because it’s illegal. Well, hang on… Okay, I know a few that don’t partake for fear of on the job U.A.s. The others simply don’t care to use cannabis. It aint their thang, mang.

    Yeah, I suppose I too am a bit stumped on the alcohol industry’s motivation. On the face of it, competition seems obvious but, that doesn’t seem to play out in the real world.

    I dunno. I do know -I’m- not going to quit drinking beer in protest though. Some activist I am, eh? Heh.

  3. Glen Ropella said,

    October 4, 2010 at 9:26 am

    The more we prep for opening our brewery, the more convinced I am of the evils of the “3 tier system”, which was put in place after prohibition to help prevent monopolies (i.e. alcohol kingpins who own production, distribution, and sales). As with all successful (entrenched) large capital investment institutions, they want to preserve the status quo. Change is risk. Risk is bad. The distributors want you to get your beer from somewhere _else_ like Colorado (otherwise what’s the point of a distributor). It’s about control. And it seems, to them, cheaper to contribute to pot prohibition to minimize risk than it is to actually study the relationship between alcohol and pot.

    They would be bad (big) business people if they didn’t contribute money to the No on Prop 19 campaign. When/if/after the scientists, physicians, and public pony up the time, effort, and money to draw fine lines between alcohol and pot, the business people will step up to exploit the results of those studies. Externalize costs, internalize profits. That’s “good” business.

    Don’t quit drinking beer. Drink local beer. Similarly, why drink vodka from Russia when we make perfectly awesome white liquors all up and down this coast? Now, Scotch… whiskey… chartreuse… sure. Go global if you must.

  4. capndrift said,

    October 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    And where’s the tipping point?

    In the Board Room of any corporation the end justifies the means. It’s all about the bottom line, period, plain and simple. But what about when those decisions are detrimental to society?

    There’s a preponderance of evidence that tells us that the ’37 Tax Act wasn’t about protecting teenage girls from the evils of the demon weed. Actually, it wasn’t about psychoactive cannabis at all, but industrial hemp. Several large corporations, with the assistance of a government employee, did away with an agricultural commodity that would have had a negative impact on their bottom line.

    So what has been the negative impact on the citizens of this country? I suppose my offering is nothing more than conjecture because, obviously, it’s tough to provide firm evidence when the subject of the investigation is missing. Yeah, you’re right. I’m not going to let that little hurdle get in my way.

    I won’t even address all of the people that have had their lives affected by a cannabis possession charge. Cannabis is illegal. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Right? (sarcasm? yes. still…)

    So what about that illegal hemp? According to Wiki there are over thirty countries that grow and process hemp. Car parts and houses are being built from it these days. Food products are processed, blah, blah, blah. Don’t grow that dangerous drug here though, man. You’ll go the the hoosegow. I’d say that’s a definite negative in respect to the opportunities for industry that -we- cannot ingage in.

    The medical research being performed has proven some amazing results. Unfortunately, most of the studies here in the states are done with synthetics, because, cannabis is illegal, doncha know. In my opinion, the reasearch is 40 years behind due to a little thing called the Controlled Substance Act. Is it speculation if I posit that has had a huge impact on our society?

    These hindrances are all the result of corporate decisions.

    Oh, sure, the answer is obvious, right? So hit ’em in the bottom line. Don’t buy products from these manipulative companies. I wish it was that easy. In today’s world it’s near impossable not to buy a gallon of gas. Not to buy drugs; prescriptive or OTC. Not to buy a cotton shirt. Not…

    So what are we, the citizens of the United States of America Corporation to do? It’s already happening. People are finally taking a look for themselves. Folks are recognizing the fact that they’ve been lied to and led astray for years. Citizen initiatives and propositions on the subject are happening all over the country.

    Myself, I think these are exciting times.
    Yo, Dan, pass the popcorn, will ya’? Heh.

  5. gepr said,

    October 7, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Well, in my short lifetime, I’ve only come up with a single answer to that question. But, usually, when I try to provide my answer, I’m misunderstood. So, if you’ll pardon my misformulations and lack of clarity, here’s my answer. You’re God of this web log; so feel free to delete this if appropriate.

    The biological system being managed, here, is a very complex one. As Shannon’s Theorem 10 points out, the controller of a complex system must have an equal or greater amount of uncertainty than the system being controlled. In common sense terms, this is simple… the regulator (aka government) has to be more flexible, more adaptable, more robust, etc, than the system being regulated. Anyone who does or has dealt with children knows this intuitively. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with technological artifacts like motorcycles or computers knows this. The user has to be more forgiving, more understanding, more empathetic, more robust, … than the used for the partnership to work.

    This leads to the conclusion that our government has to carry more uncertainty, more flexibility, than we carry. But how can that be? How does that happen? At first blush, it seems like a paradox… a self-referential loop.

    But the answer has been around a long time and has been fairly well formulated at least since von Hayek. The system being governed has to do the governing. There’s no other way for it to work.

    And that means each and every person has to deal directly with political issues. We all have to be politicians. We all have to get and stay involved in whatever way we can. It’s a duty, an obligation. And at this point, I have to say that you’re clearly doing your part with this web log. Thanks.

    A finer grained point has to be made, though. Despite the fact that the collective has to govern the collective, diversity is crucial. Any reduction in biological diversity can lead to a death spiral. So, when/if we all jump on any single bandwagon and start carrying the same sign or wearing the same clothes, that homogeneity predicts disaster. So, we each have to pursue politics in a unique, particular way to preserve the uncertainty necessary to govern ourselves. Loss of diversity => loss of uncertainty => failed government.

    Postscript: This is why power laws are so important to our government. Huge corporations or governments are not bad, in and of themselves. In fact, we have evidence that a FEW such beasts arise naturally in any biological network. The trick is to foster the proper distribution of huge vs. large vs. medium vs. small vs. individual.

  6. capndrift said,

    October 10, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Hmm, let me see if i’m picking up what you are throwing down. In a nut shell:

    The citizen initiatives, propositions and measure we are seeing across the country are a direct result of that tipping point being reached. And further, these efforts give evidence that the “system” is operating nominally.

    Sum’thin like that?

    “And at this point, I have to say that you’re clearly doing your part with this web log. Thanks.”

    Thank, you. One of the frustrations with my medical condition is the physical limitations. I don’t get out often. That leaves me with writing letters and this here blog.

    Frankly, I’m a bit disapointed that I haven’t had any detractors comment. In my opinion, it is they that should have the available facts presented before them so that they are better informed on the issue(s).

    Please! Someone out there challange the information and views presented herein!

    Not that I don’t appreciate visits from folks that share my views, mind you.

  7. Glen Ropella said,

    October 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Yes, something like, but not quite, that. What we’re seeing, I think, is the rise of the symptoms of the immune response to our creeping bureaucracies. I think it’s a very long rise and includes our responses to the overuse of antibiotics, the evolution of the flu virus, salmonella outbreaks in factory farms, etc. Movements like those surrounding civil rights, “organic” foods, “slow food”, legislative initiatives, and DIY sci-tech (e.g. DIYBio, hackerspaces, etc.) are higher level phenomena resting atop the more fundamental immune response. So, they’re not direct responses. But they’re only a couple orders removed… perhaps 2nd or 3rd order responses.

    Another issue is that I am too ignorant to say that they’re evidence the biological system is operating “nominally”. This could be a minor immune response, analogous to the common cold, or a life-threatening one, analogous to an immune response gone haywire. I just don’t know. And if I’m right that it is an immune response to bureaucracy, then my guess is that nobody knows. It’s entirely possible that we (the U.S.) are just experiencing some density related growing pains. We’re moving from a very sparsely populated country to a more dense country. The denser we get, the more we have to deal with 3 sigma variation in our immediate neighbors.

    But I doubt that it’s minor or local to this continent because technology like air travel, cell phones, etc. are building and breaking bureaucracies more and more rapidly all across the planet. Which nodes settle out as the mega-, large, medium, and small hubs is up in the air. But rest assured that, despite changes in particular hubs, the distribution will remain a power law through the transition. It’s also possible that our new state is one of persistent transition. Perhaps all our current concepts of “corporation”, “government”, “community”, etc. might become obsolete and we’ll need new abstractions to understand what’s happening. I just don’t know.

    As for criticism of your posts, I’ll start now. 😉 You’re not posting enough detail for me to find anything with which to argue. One can only rationally criticize risky claims. Every post I’ve read of yours is heavily laden with common sense knowledge that only irrational people would argue with. And, although it may seem like you want those people to post comments, here; I suspect you really don’t. But I’m often wrong. So, there are 2 ways to go:

    1) Post more scientific detail like the conclusions from some of the research and you’ll attract rational disagreement.

    2) Post far-reaching, unsubstantiated, opinions (e.g. my claim that the only long-term sustainable government is collective government by ALL the people being governed, not just a literate few — that’s a risky claim) and you’ll get more irrational commenters that are simultaneously easier and harder to educate.

    I’ll participate in either now that I know your blog is here. 😉

  8. capndrift said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I know this may sound contrary to “activism” however, I’d rather not delve deeply into political theory. No doubt it is tangential to the subject matter but I’m a simple man. I don’t want to lose sight of my main goal here, education.

    Oh, I do want irrational people to comment! This might sound terribly narcissistic but I believe anyone with an opinion varying greatly from mine must be irrational. I would like to “heal” these people. Heh.

    You might have noticed that an individual’s first post requires approval. That’s to weed out the true whackos. To date, I haven’t denied any comments.

    I’ve posted many medicinal cannabis research studies here. These have been performed by several independent facilities with the results all in the same ball park even given the variables; phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, synthetics, combinations thereof… In my opinion the medicinal efficacy of these molecules is incontrovertable.

    Won’t anyone tell me I’m full of crap?

    Hell, I’ve even left the door open to claims that cannabis can cause the onset in people predisposed to suffer from schizophrenia. — No takers.

    Though I do attempt to keep to the known facts these pages also contain nothing more than my unsubstantiated opinion. At least twice I’ve called High Ranking Government Employees incompetent liars. Not a nibble. Does this indicate that the persons viewing that page all agree with me? (granted, it’s not like I’ve got a large audience, still…)

    I posit that the drug trade need be commercialized.”Legal entities” should be buying the poppy and coca harvest and processing them into heroin and cocaine (as well as pharmaceuticals) and peddled in licensed retail stores. I’d think that would get sombody’s hackles up.

    On the educational side (as far as studies go); I usually, purposely, leave the referenced studies and research somewhat vague (though that came around and bit me in the butt recently. i should be able to cite my sources upon request). My reasoning behind that is the possibility that interested individuals will go in search of their own information. Enter “cannabis and cancer” in any search engine and you will be inundated. “Cannabis neuropathy,” same-same. “Cannabis and…” Well, you catch my Drift.

    I dunno. I’ll keep slugging along as I am. It’s the only way I know. It could very well be that people do read and then go gather further information. It could very well be that I’m loading cartridges into weapons I’ll never see fire (possibly a poor analogy?)

    Thank you for your thought provoking posts and suggestions. They are most welcome.


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