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Never seen so many sick young people lined up for help
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I have never seen so many young "sick" people in my life standing outside the new Patient Care First (ahem, ahem) medical marijuana dispensary on Angie. I was blown away by the traffic. There were more people going in and out the doors that it would make any fast-food restaurant envious.

I'm not saying there aren't true cases where THC vastly helps people with seizures and other serious problems but I will have to agree with Paula Redfern, who told the council that the whole "medicinal" aspect of pot is a joke. It's a huge joke. In my opinion, it was apparent that the vast majority of the young people I saw were hardly in need of medical relief but addicted to pot as a way of escaping problems.

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Oh goody, the California recreational cannabis - I prefer to use the word "pot" - market is expected to be bigger than Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Nevada. The forecast is $15.9 billion to $20 billion a year. Tax revenue is expected to range from $2.4 billion to $3 billion. Try 81,000 to 103,000 jobs with labor income of $3.57 billion to $4.52 billion.

Great for the economy? Maybe, but it's not a good for our society. I think we will see more crime, social dysfunction, addictions, traffic deaths and health problems. According to, short-term effects of marijuana include short-term memory problems, severe anxiety (paranoia), strange behavior, hallucinations, lowered reaction time, increased heart rate and increased risk of stroke, and for females, can cause up to seven times more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections than non-users.

AAA reported that in the U.S. cannabis-involved fatalities increased from 8 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2014.

In Colorado, marijuana use increased significantly starting in 2009, and a study found that the proportion of drivers in fatal car crashes in Colorado testing positive for marijuana had risen from 5.9 percent in 2009 to 10 percent in 2011. In Washington, fatal driving accidents have risen 122 percent between 2010 and 2014. And here in the green cloud of California, the percentage of drivers testing positive for marijuana that were involved in fatal car crashes rose from 9 percent in 2005 to 16.5 percent in 2014. So how this will benefit our state?

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Just a brief reminder before we close out the old year and anticipate a big change for the Courier next week.

If you didn't read my column last week then you missed the announcement that the Courier is going to a paid delivery system.

There have been big changes to the newspaper industry and those changes are forcing us to make changes as well. I joined the Courier staff in 1987 and that whole time, most every address in Ceres got the Courier delivered for free. The papers were being thrown by youth carriers and those carriers tried - some obviously didn't - to collect a voluntary $3 per month. We later dropped the youth carriers and went to delivery by motor carriers who did not attempt to collect the $3 per month. We are now forced to charge for delivery at $36 per year, or $20 for six months. Of course, you still have the option to buy copies at news racks around Ceres.

An added bonus is that subscribers will also be delivered our 209 Magazine that is chocked full of local content. It publishes six times per year and yours truly occasionally contributes to it.

Also, starting Jan. 3, the cost of a news stand copy will increase from 50 cents to $1. That makes home delivery at $36 per year a cheaper option.

Because of the change, our team will be producing a weekly ad shopper product filled with all Courier ads, which will be delivered to all non-subscribers. The shopper product, however, will not include the news content of the Courier.

We believe we put out one of the best community newspapers around and want you, our reader, to continue appreciating our efforts to keep you informed by becoming subscribers.

To subscribe call 537-5032 and we'll set you up for home delivery! Or send in your check to The Ceres Courier, 138 S. Center Street, Turlock CA 95380.

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What a different world today than when I was a kid.

When I was a kid I loved watching the TV show Dragnet. I watched Joe Webb flip out his badge and detain people with questions. I also watched Bonanza and Gunsmoke so of course we were like Opie Taylor in running around the yard with fake guns yelling "Bang! Bang! You're dead." We usually ended up arguing with the person we "shot" because they didn't fall and we know we hit him. Nobody ever really wanted to play the victim.

Of course, those were the days when school shootings were unheard of.

So I was not surprised when the teacher of my kindergartner grandson called my daughter to express "concern" that he told the fanciful story of someone getting shot with a Nerf gun. This is not the first time I've heard of a school freaking out because a child had mentioned or drawn a picture of a gun. My grandson is as innocent as can be. Guns are fascinating to kids. I mean, how many times do our kids watch movies or TV shows where there is shooting going on?

As my daughter is telling me this, my other grandson is running around squeezing off rounds with this cheap plastic gun, more like a squirt gun. He'll be three in February. He kept squeezing the trigger quickly and told me I was dead. That was a teaching moment: I told him that "I have seen dead bodies and it's terrible to see."

I understand the fear in some of our educators. But honestly, ignoring guns and pretending like they don't exist does not prevent tragic events. The left would like to think guns are the problem when it's the human heart.

Just think, I must have shot a toy gun thousands of times as a kid and, well, I guess I was raised right because I have not once desiring killing anyone.

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Travis Allen, the state Assemblyman who wants to be governor - but stands a chance of a snowball in hell in this blue state - reported last week that "IT'S ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE UNDER Jerry Brown's ILLEGAL SANCTUARY STATE: With more than 1 in 5 individuals in federal prison not born in the US and 92 percent of foreign nationals in federal prisons here illegally, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions tells the simple truth: Americans are ‘being victimized by illegal aliens who commit crimes.' ... The simple fact is that any offense committed by a criminal alien is ultimately preventable. One victim is too many."

I'm still reeling, trying to figure out how a jury failed to convict illegal alien Jose Inez Garcia Zarate of murdering Kathryn Steinle. She was shot while doing what many of us have done: strolling a pier along the Embarcadero of San Francisco. The stolen loaded gun went off when Zarate picked it up and the bullet ricocheted off of a concrete pier and hit the woman. The defendant had been deported five times before the shooting. He had finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and was transferred in March 2015 to San Francisco's jail to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana. The judge in the case dismissed the charge even though federal immigration officials wanted him detained for another deportation. He walked free. Kate Steinle was robbed of her life.

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Oh my goodness there are so many negative people in Ceres - or at least on our Facebook page. Lighten up.

In our story about the Ceres archway going in, many people chimed in. I love the addition. It makes a statement as you enter downtown - now if the building owners can get onboard and it looks like some are

So let me take on some of the commenters.

Jae Deering said "it is terrible a lot less parking. Also, I understand they spent all this money downtown but they're having issues with paying for the OT for the fire department? What's up with that?"

Well, Jan, the project in downtown was funded through the proceeds of a bond issued by the Ceres Redevelopment Agency. Gov. Brown stole all the money when the state got in a financial jam but Ceres was able to keep this last vestige of money. So thank goodness for the fact that Jerry Brown didn't steal that from the community (he wanted to take the Daniel Whitmore Home too). Here's the deal: redevelopment funds CANNOT be spent on police and fire salaries! That would be ILLEGAL.

Now, here's the deal with the fire department. Firefighters would have you believe that city officials are just mean people who want your houses to burn down. But here's the truth. The city was awarded a SAFER grant two years ago to hire six firefighters TEMPORARILY. Everyone knew the two years would be coming up and the city could not keep them on staff. Why? Because Ceres is burning through its bank account at an alarming rate.

When Mayor Chris Vierra was first on the council, Ceres had a reserve of 42 percent. This year the council bent over backwards in the budget process to try to keep Ceres Fire staffed as much as it could, even agreeing to go farther into reserves than they ever imagined. They said no lower than 18 percent reserves. Guess what it may end up being as of June 30? Fourteen percent!

With 90 percent of the general fund spent on public safety, does anyone really advocate going deeper in debt and head toward bankruptcy? I'm thankful the city is not being run like our federal government, but then again the city can't print money, now can it?

Thomas Herring writes: "Outstanding Ceres, eliminate 30+ % of parking for small business customers. Soul Saver had to move to Richland Shopping Center....well played Ceres, well played!"

Well, actually Sole Saver owner Frank Cardenas told us that he moved because the old building was falling apart and the landlord wasn't investing in it.

According to engineer Chad Kennedy, there were 103 pre-construction parking stalls on Fourth Street and 95 stalls after. (The city took some away but also added the 10-stall parking lot across the street from Wells Fargo Bank.) When I do the math, that's 7.7 percent less, not 30 plus.

Cindy Vilmur Passalaqua called the CERES sign "childish looking" and bemoaned the fact that light bulbs will burn out and "it will be forever to replace them." But Cindy won't it look great at night if the city stays on top of those burned-out bulbs? Really, block letters "childish"? I wonder what Cindy thinks of the WATER, WEALTH, CONTENTMENT HEALTH arch - all in capital letters - that's been a part of the Modesto landscape since 1912. And that is lit up too!

Chris Kraft commented: "You can't even read what it says!!!! Horrible design." Am I the only one who doesn't have a problem making out that CERES spells Ceres? I don't know, maybe it's just me.

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You can't get any crazier than Rosie O'Donnell who is upset about the tax plan being approved by Congress. She suggested that Speaker Paul Ryan should go to hell for Christmas. She tweeted "paul ryan - don't talk about Jesus after what u just did to our nation - u will go straight to hell. U screwed up fake altar boy."

I wouldn't waste one second of my time watching any TV show or movie this uncivil and crude woman appears in. Sigh. I know the list of Hollywood actors and actresses I am boycotting grows by the year.

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This has been an incredibly busy, creative and unusual year for me. But for me it's ending on a particularly sad note for more than one reason. Let's hope that 2018 is a great year for all of us, with plenty of exciting new things.

Let's have a toast.

Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at He will read it, promise.