Pubdate: Sat, 06 Aug 2016
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Erika D. Smith


When I hear people stressing out about the millions of Americans who 
use marijuana on a regular basis, a little voice pops into my head. 
It belongs to the comedian Chris Tucker.

"Ain't nothing wrong with smoking weed," his character, Smokey, said 
rolling a joint in the movie "Friday." "Weed is from the Earth. God 
put this here for me and you. Take advantage, man, take advantage!"

In California, many of us do just that. (Not me, though. I swear!)

As new data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services 
Administration show, one in seven of the state's residents ages 12 
and older say they've smoked marijuana in the past month. That's 14.2 
percent of Californians, compared to about 7.7 percent of all Americans.

In San Francisco, the rate is 15.5 percent  the highest in the 
country. The northern counties of the "state of Jefferson" don't rank 
far behind.

One would think that residents of these counties would jump at the 
chance to vote for a presidential candidate like Bernie Sanders. 
After all, the senator-turned-political-messiah, 
turned-stubborn-old-man, turned-reluctant-ally was the first 
presidential candidate of a major party to support the legalization 
and regulation of marijuana.

He initially did so during a debate with Hillary Clinton last 
October. Asked if he would back a Nevada ballot initiative to 
regulate the drug like alcohol, he said he would. And months later, 
fighting a losing battle for his political life, he also endorsed the 
measure sponsored by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom that's on California's 
ballot this November.

Bernie is a pothead's dream come true. So voters who smoke should 
feel the Bern and puff, puff, give, right?

Well, as it turns out, not so much. Looking at data from both the 
June 7 primary and the survey on marijuana use, it's abundantly clear 
that how much residents smoke has little to do with their regions' 
political leanings. In short, marijuana legalization is an important 
issue  it's just not that important. So take note, Sean Parker and 
Lt. Gov. Newsom.

Just look at the counties in the state of Jefferson, where, according 
to the survey, about 14 percent of residents use pot frequently.

Sanders, as expected, won big in the Emerald Triangle, grabbing the 
cannabis havens of Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties by wide 
margins. But most other counties in Northern California went to 
Donald Trump  the Republican nominee who has a mere C+ rating from 
the Marijuana Policy Project because of his wishy-washy stances on 
legalizing marijuana.

Or take San Francisco, the highest city in the country. Hillary 
Clinton, not Sanders, won it handily. She has only a B+ rating for 
her support of legalizing medical marijuana and reclassifying it as a 
Schedule II drug to make it easier to study its medical benefits.

So weed, it seems, does cut across the political spectrum. On using 
it, Republicans, Democrats, and tight-knit tribes of conservatives, 
progressives and libertarians can agree  even if they agree on 
nothing else. Perhaps this is the drug's most underrated medical 
benefit of all: curing political acrimony.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom