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California: Is the Golden State soon to become Stoner State?
dennis Wyatt web
Dennis Wyatt

Jerry Brown a few years back was asked to comment on the drive to legalize recreational use of pot in California.

The governor responded by indicating a "stoner state" may not be conducive to the California economy.

Brown's ultimate stance on a pending ballot measure drive to legalize the consumption of cannabis might end up being different but the point can't be ignored. There are inherit risks with a workforce that is less than optimum in today's competitive world even if every user simply "mellows" as the more starry-eyed proponents of unrestricted marijuana use claim.

But perhaps more important is the pushback coming from the private sector and law enforcement that may make legal use of marijuana beyond medicinal purposes the equivalent of walking into the Brea Tar Pits for many people. And the dangers ironically are associated with the fans of universal marijuana who contend it is no different than smoking cigarettes or consuming alcohol.

Democrat Jim Wood - an assemblyman from Healdsburg - has gotten his measure AB 2300 out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee April 25 on a 10-0 vote.

AB 2300 assures landlords would have the same authority to prohibit smoking medicinal pot in a rented residence as they now do with smoking tobacco cigarettes. Patients would be able to retain the right to access and use medical pot by other means such as edibles and oils.

It means vast bi-partisan support exists in Sacramento to apply the same restrictions to recreational pot. That means landlords will have the right to evict those who violate state law regardless of what they smoke.
The legislation is based in part on studies that do indeed show that pot is much like cigarettes when it comes to second-hand smoke.

According to University of California San Francisco Professor of Medicine Matthew Springer, "Tobacco and marijuana share thousands of chemicals that result from burning dried plant material, and many of these chemicals are harmful. The adverse cardiovascular effects of secondhand marijuana smoke have only recently begun to be studied and we are seeing just a few minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke from tobacco and marijuana have the same negative effect on the ability of arteries to carry enough blood, with marijuana causing longer-lasting effect than tobacco."

Can anyone say stroke and heart attacks?

Such studies, of course, would set the stage for insurance companies to monetarily penalize marijuana smokers just as they have cigarette smokers when it comes to premiums and deductibles.

And once you take pot from special medicinal status for smoking to essentially giving it equal billing with cigarettes you've opened the door for justified punitive actions from insurance companies.

As for those who think legalizing pot makes it legal period, let's not forget how the backers of recreational pot astutely point out it is no different than alcohol.

Colorado's lawmakers are virtually unanimous - as are the courts - in keeping intact the right of employers to conduct drug tests for marijuana use based on concerns it impacts motor skills much like alcohol does when it relaxes a user.

Given marijuana can stay in the system for as long as 30 days users would be putting their jobs or their chances of getting one at risk.

Driving under the influence already includes much more than alcohol given how prescription and illegal drugs can impair judgment and impact motor skills. Make pot legal and it'll be just a matter of time before a breath-analyzer test is developed to determine the role marijuana smoking may have in unsafe driving.

Those pushing for legalization of marijuana who believe it will actually decriminalize it by dropping all penalties for its use should be prepared for what they always wished - to have it officially treated no different than alcohol and smoking.

Legalizing pot will open the door for users to be subjected to higher insurance rates, smoking restrictions and a whole list of other pushbacks.

True they exist now but it is way off base to think they go away after pot is legalized. They'll likely to discover the opposite will happen with penalties beyond that now exists will expand.

Those that think California's super hyper regulatory environment that makes the state's criminal justice system look minor league in comparison won't go into overdrive once pot is legalized must be smoking the real good stuff.

California has already for all practical purposes effectively decriminalized marijuana use when the state reduced possession of a small amount to a misdemeanor
Legalizing non-medical use of marijuana is far from being a panacea that supporters are pitching.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.