Pubdate: Wed, 03 Aug 2016
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.
Author: Logan Jenkins


One conventionally wise thing to say about Proposition 64, the 
statewide initiative legalizing adult use of recreational marijuana, 
is that millennials could very well provide the margin for victory.

Millennials, the generation born after 1982 and before 1998, tend to 
be politically independent and socially libertarian. They're also 
numerous, making up more than a quarter of registered voters.

But even more populous, comprising nearly a third of the voting pool, 
are boomers, the graying generation that grew up with revolution, and 
marijuana smoke, in the air.

Many boomers, I've observed, straightened out in the '80s and '90s to 
raise law-abiding children and advance careers. They became much like 
their Greatest Generation parents, drinking alcohol, often too much 
of it, to relax and have fun.

But it's a self-evident cultural observation that millions of 
Americans in their 60s and 70s, many empty-nesters, view a bowl of 
cannabis as a portal to a child-like joy in living that's not nearly 
so hard on the liver or libido as booze. (The lungs, well, that's 
another matter.)

During this harmonic convergence between young and old, the 
pro-marijuana movement has lots of money behind it as well as 
momentum from other progressive states that have taken the plunge - 
Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska.

The opponents of recreational pot - from law enforcement to religious 
groups to some medical marijuana suppliers who see devils in the 
initiative's details - are railing against the wind of cultural history.

But, and here's the point of today's talk, don't look forward to 
popping down to your neighborhood shop to browse for gourmet ganja.

Depending on where you live, you may have to get on the highway and 
drive to the city of San Diego, which would, if voters approve a 
local initiative, add its 5 percent tax to the cost.

You see, there's no legal obligation of a city or county to host 
marijuana stores.

Section 3(d) of the so-called Adult Use of Marijuana Act pointedly 
"allow(s) local government to ban non-medical marijuana businesses as 
set forth in this Act."

If Colorado's experience is a guide, hundreds of "dry" counties and 
cities throughout the Golden State will spring up. It will be 
generally legal to consume small amounts - it also may be legal to 
have marijuana delivered to your home, I gather - but to purchase in 
a storefront? That's up to cities or counties themselves.

Take it to the bank. Leaders of hostile jurisdictions, motivated by 
worries about crime or public health or just plain moral repugnance, 
will whack weed sales with a vengeance.

Take Poway as one municipal shape of things to come.

"We will resist it like the plague," Mayor Steve Vaus vows, 
explaining that the City in the Country has paid a high price from 
substance abuse and will be in no mood to add to the pain caused by 
recreational drugs.

Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern says his city has gone out on a limb 
to allow medical marijuana delivery during certain hours.

A pot shop? Forget about it.

"If Carlsbad opens one up, let them have the headaches," Kern jokes.

Among San Diego County's 18 cities, only one - San Diego - permits 
medical marijuana dispensaries. (The county has allowed one, outside El Cajon.)

It's instructive that San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey, a Gen Xer who 
says he won't vote for Proposition 64, accepts as a given that the 
existing permitted medical outlets in the city also will seek to sell 
recreational pot. He assumes they'll be allowed to do so if 64 passes.

On Monday, the council narrowly voted to put Kersey's forward-looking 
tax initiative on the ballot. The initiative assumes pot shops will 
cost the city dearly in health care and law-enforcement, outlays that 
would be offset by a 5 percent tax (8 percent in 2019).

Over time, says Michael Cindrich, director of San Diego County 
chapter of NORML, hostile cities may be more receptive as they tire 
of leaving tax dollars on the table and supporting the black market, 
which thrives on difficulty of access to legal pot.

In Colorado, cities that allow cannabis shops have become tourist 
draws. Affluent cities like Vail, on the other hand, don't want the 
raffish traffic that reflects poorly on their upscale brands.

Kersey told me he's not interested in San Diego becoming what he 
calls a "pot destination," but it's possible, at least in the short 
term, that it could be just that for regional residents.

The Golden State's voters, especially the young and the old, appear 
ready to take the high road.

But in practical terms, that's the easy first step of the journey.

The local debates over whether to welcome retail marijuana outlets - 
and how many and where and how much to tax them - could be a headache 
for years to come.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom