Plumas Pot Pain

The Pot Pain of Plumas 021611

The Portola City Council decided last month to pass an ordinance banning medical cannabis dispensaries.  

Since then Plumas county has suffered through a blinding storm of ignorance, as people line up to show how much they don’t know about the issue.  

All of this gives one pause to consider the human condition.  People love to hate a scapegoat.  It is an unfortunate feature of humans that they love to gang up on the underdog.  It creates social cohesion, and gives the participants a little rush of belonging to the right side.  It is why people feel justified in hanging Black men and beating gay men to death.  It feels really, really good to demonize someone, and after the scapegoat is down, or strung up, dozens of wannabes rush forward to kick the warm corpse.  That’s how the pain of Plumas county looks from here.

For some reason, the medical marijuana users in Plumas county (Sheriff Hagwood reckons 500, so double or triple that) have been strangely quiet.  Perhaps behind the scenes they are considering a lawsuit against the city, and probably the county.  The courts have dithered on the matter from location to location, but one thing remains clear: communities do not have the right to prevent legal medical cannabis to residents.  A city might successfully ban dispensaries, but only if there is medical cannabis near by.  The issue is still forming in the courts, but as the number of such lawsuits increase, the creativity of the suits also increases.

In Plumas and Sierra Counties there is no safe, legal access to medical cannabis.  Americans for Safe Access is constantly looking for instances where local government violates patient rights in a way that would make for good case law.  There is some advantage to winning a case in a populated location, but smaller county governments might make easier targets.  

In Sierra County, people have been less willing to hear stupidity pass as public policy.  The Sheriff’s recent grant promising to turn local medical cannabis growers over to the IRS met with surprising resistance in the press, and among 215 medcan users.  In private discussion a resolution has arisen to sue the County of Sierra in the unlikely event a ban is attempted.

The U.S. government spent literally billions of dollars cultivating a public scapegoat.  People love to hate a scapegoat, and particularly when they are given money for doing it.  Cops, including our local cops, have gotten a lot of money to create the artificial market for drugs we have now.  It’s a perfect, self perpetuating Ponzi scheme.  Our local cops just got a small dollop of that golden nectar, the real drug of addiction of cops and big pot growers alike.

It is difficult to discern a rationale to the Plumas opponents.  The best examples have no logic to them at all.  They are composed of “things we all know” and scattered, badly misinterpreted personal experiences.  

Here is some logic.
Since medical marijuana became legal in 1996 the price of an ounce of cannabis has steadily decreased, particularly as compared to other commodities like oil and gold.  
Further, a commodity which once funneled all of its revenue to criminals now returns much of it to business people.  Increasingly, local governments are learning to apply modest taxes and fees to medical cannabis trade, a win-win for everyone.
There is no evidence cannabis is a “gateway drug”, or that dispensaries increase the likelihood of crime.

If you want to find the drug the ranting ninnies in Plumas county are talking about, you probably won't have to go further than your fridge.  Alcohol is the drug they describe, not cannabis, which is far less dangerous by any measure.  Yet, there are places all over Plumas and Sierra Counties that sell alcohol.  

Furthermore, the ninnies, who continue to maintain that medcan users can grow their own, overlook a couple of very important facts:
1. Medical quality cannabis is hard to grow, particularly in the local climate;
2. Many people diagnosed with cancer will be dead before their crop is ready.
3. They don’t have to.  The law allows for people to purchase medical cannabis from others.

Medical Dispensaries have to follow the same rules of good citizenship as other businesses, even ones that sell dangerous drugs, like grocery stores.  Most cannabis dispensaries are careful not to offend their neighbors, and prohibit loitering or smoking outside.  When local government works with dispensaries, the results are even better.

The Prospect always encourages public discussion, though we typically hope for a rational discussion, which isn’t always possible.  Still, in the coming months we’ll continue to discuss the problem of local law enforcement who resist social change, and the problems that can ensue.

Medical Cannabis Dispensaries: LINK
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