Pubdate: Mon, 02 Apr 2012
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Times-Herald
Author: James D. Davis


Regarding Pat Nelson's letter ("City of Shame," March 29):

Vallejo is a city of shame not because of our marijuana clinics, but
because of our burglaries, vehicle thefts, robberies, assaults, rapes,
shootings, and murders. Marijuana smokers tend to talk, laugh, and eat
a lot of potato chips -- not burglarize homes or go on shooting sprees.

As for the notion that regulating and taxing clinics as businesses,
like other businesses, sends a bad message to our kids, we had better
tell our kids about drugs. Our society (the entire United States) is
flooded with drugs of all kinds -- some legal, some not. Any of them
can be destructive if used in a destructive manner -- abused --
including our national drug: Alcohol. And yet alcohol pervades our
culture -- we expect our parents to teach their children about the
consumption of alcohol.

Prescription drugs are abused with a disturbing frequency, but we're
not going to shut down all the pharmacies; we're going to take
measures to curb the abuse. "Just Say No" is a simplistic approach to
our drug use that is doomed to failure. "Just Say No, Thanks, I've Had
Enough" is a better slogan. I am not promoting the use of drugs among
our children. I want parents to be real, because it is a real problem.
Someone is going to tempt them and the slogan won't work. But an
intelligent conversation about how drugs are to be used will work.

As for Mr. Nelson's concern with the illegality of our clinics, he is
walking in swampy waters. Give any attorney $10,000 and that attorney
will write you a 50-page brief explaining why our clinics are legal.
The contrary can be done by the city attorney. While the clinics
appear to be illegal under federal law, they appear to be legal under
state law (Vallejo just makes illegal anything it doesn't make legal,
regardless of state law). Does federal law always prevail over state
law? No. It turns on a complicated legal doctrine known as pre-emption
and other factors. Sometimes states (and individuals) can do as they
damn well please, notwithstanding Big Brother.

Supporters of the clinics are not so much claiming that closing them
down is an "injustice," as they are claiming it is just plain stupid,
in view of our criminal problems. The police chief has conflated these
clinics -- which admittedly serve a legitimate purpose, employ people,
pay rent, bring people to the downtown desert, pay fees and taxes into
the treasury -- with "crime," because technically, in the chief's
view, they are illegal.

Illegal is illegal, in the chief's mind. But illegally smoking
marijuana and illegally shooting a person in the face are different
kinds of crimes. Clinic supporters want the chief to get the shooter,
and he's not going to find the shooter in a clinic.

Yes, the city has lost its bearings. There are no adults. The picture
is that you're either a pothead or a bible-thumping, self-righteous
nut. Surely there is something in between.

James D. Davis

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