Pubdate: Wed, 04 Feb 2015
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Copyright: 2015 East Bay Express
Author: Grady Padgett

"California's Legalization Quagmire," Legalization Nation, 1/14


With optimism and an RSVP invitation, I attended this meeting. 
Despite suffering from "walking pneumonia," I drove up from Santa 
Cruz to hear and be heard. I really felt inspired, activated even, 
during the first part of Mr. Bill Zimmerman's keynote speech. 
However, as he went on to champion the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) as 
the tool, and said that "there will be winners and losers," I started 
to feel betrayed. Then when he so slickly spoke about how one-third 
of California voters are ready to approve legalization, one-third 
always will oppose such, and one-third are still riding the fence, a 
bell started ringing in my head ... maybe it was just the pneumonia, 
but my common sense light was starting to strobe: Didn't he earlier 
say that more than 50 percent of Californians polled want to see 
marijuana/cannabis legalized? Don't all the major polls show similar 
majority support among Californians? If more than 50 percent want to 
see this marvelous plant made a respectable member of California's 
medical and recreational culture, then why all that 
one-third-one-third-one-third hyperbole?

Then there was Zimmerman's "elections are not won by committee" 
comment. Since when? Yes, having a well-known or intelligent frontman 
works wonders; however, President Obama never utters a word publicly 
that hasn't been vetted by a committee of advisors.

I feel Mr. Zimmerman is the frontman for the DPA. He wants the rest 
of us to sit back and let the potentates at DPA craft what rules they 
think are best for the rest of us. Seeing all the turmoil in other 
states where DPA has held sway over the main ballot measure's 
language, I'm more strongly than ever in favor of input from other 
cannabis legalization groups, instead of the unilateral approach 
Zimmerman so subtlety proposes.

When presented with the opportunity, I raised my own personal issue 
during one of the question-and-answer periods: The 2016 ballot 
measure must contain language that places California state law 
supreme over local county and municipality ordinances. The Brown Act 
does this for public meetings, but an ever-growing list of California 
counties, cities, and towns are opting to pass local ordinances that 
effectively strangle the ability for cannabis patients to have 
adequate amounts of medicine. This not only flies in the face of the 
Brown Act, but effectively says local rule trumps state laws. And as 
I see that a number of counties and municipalities are using such 
obstructive and repressive ordinances as a framework for even greater 
restrictions on recreational cannabis - up to and including 
completely banning cannabis from their county. This isn't being made 
any easier with the California high court's recent ruling giving the 
green light to local rule over state law.

I do not propose I have all the answers. But I do not think we should 
rely on DPA to have all of them either. What's worked in the past for 
DPA is all well and good, but that's a classic logical fallacy to 
think that because it worked in the past it will work now. It might 
not even be DPA that leads in developing what will be presented to 
Californians in 2016, but rather just one of several level-headed 
members of the team - the committee that congeals the will of the 
people into a cohesive whole that does protect all of us, that does 
not leave out any of us.

Grady Padgett, Los Gatos
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom