Why Do You Think They Call it Dope?

Before you vote for California’s Proposition 64 that will legalize recreational marijuana, read over the 32 pages in the state’s Official Voter Information Guide.  You may change your mind.

Like a tsunami that transforms the landscape, expect life to change:  more impaired people on the job, on the roads, and on the public assistance for health issues related to the drug.

Look for marijuana ads to appear on television, on radio, on billboards.

Watch for swaths of agricultural areas to start growing cannabis instead of vegetables.

Get ready for pot stores to pop up all over town.  Prop 64 mandates no establishment can be within 600 feet of a school or day care center.   That’s the length of four city blocks. Children will walk by the pot outlets, guaranteed.

Considering that the vast majority of Americans do not use marijuana, it is bewildering why voters would legalize something that is detrimental to the health of society.

Why would citizens who view cigarette smokers as lepers put out the open house sign for marijuana smokers?  I thought Californians were health conscious.

The state still lists marijuana as a carcinogen.  Tax dollars should not be used to approve the sale of more cancer-causing substances.

What concerns No on Prop 64 campaign spokesman Andrew Acosta the most is “how little people know about the industry” that they are about to legitimize, an industry involving investors whose sole desire is to make money cultivating and distributing a drug.

California, having lost companies to less regulated states, is on the verge of a new gold rush.   Instead of third world nations delivering drugs to the world, it will be California.

It has taken 20 years for Sacramento to figure out how to properly regulate the medical marijuana industry.  Prop 64 allows only one year to get it done correctly for recreational use.

“The only reason that California is rushing into legalization is to make money for the industry,” Acosta said.

The New York Times reports that “the market for both recreational and medicinal marijuana is projected to grow to $22 billion in four years from $7 billion this year if California says yes.”

Steve DeAngelo who runs a marijuana dispensary in Oakland told the newspaper that “my ultimate objective is to get this plant into the hands of every single human being on the planet,” calling marijuana “a religious spiritual thing.”

This is the mentality of those who are pushing legalization.

Just like tobacco companies, these firms care only about money, uninterested in repercussions to our society.

A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that fatal traffic accidents involving drivers who used marijuana more than doubled in the state of Washington since the drug was legalized.

And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nationwide nighttime weekend drivers high on marijuana increased almost 50 percent from 2007 to 2014.

The AAA Foundation says that “there is currently no scientific way to predict impairment due to marijuana based on a blood test result.”  Still, voters are willing to roll the dice that eventually a test for impairment will magically surface as we use the streets and people as experiments.

Proponents of Prop 64 have faulty arguments.

  • That legalization will make the illegal market go away. Not true.  In Colorado, the black market for marijuana has increased after legalization.
  • That young people will be protected from trying the drug since the initiative stipulates that edibles cannot appeal to young people. No to lollipops and gummies, but yes to cookies and brownies.
  • That passing Prop 64 will stop the incarceration of people caught with marijuana. False. If you think our prisons are full of potheads, you probably are smoking something.
  • That marijuana is not harmful. Wrong again.   You don’t need a medical degree to know that smoking anything is not healthy.

Brains are not fully developed until age 25.  But at age 21, a person can start using marijuana, a drug that remains in the body’s tissues, including the brain.

Last week 60 Minutes aired a segment on the negative impact legalized pot has had in Colorado.   One doctor described the spike in babies born with traces of THC.

While I don’t want to put the potheads in jail, I do not want the government to validate their drug habit.   Leave the “look-the-other-way” system currently in place alone—no change necessary.

Someone who chooses to abuse their body does not have a right to harm society.




All School Children Need Civics Education for a Strong USA

The other day my son was practicing his guitar playing with a new music book and came upon Samuel Francis Smith’s “America (My Country, ’Tis of Thee),” you know the 1832 patriotic song that is not “America the Beautiful” and whose melody is the same as England’s “God Save the Queen”? That song, by the way, served as this country’s de facto national anthem for a century before “The Star Spangled Banner” garnered that title in 1931.

I asked him if he knew the song. He did not.

Along with other school children of his generation and older, the diminished music education in public schools over the past few decades accounts for a loss of a common musical history of this country.

Okay, so kids today are more likely to belt out Frozen’s “Let it Go” than “Home on the Range.” No big deal, right? However, with the loss of arts education there has also occurred a loss of civics education.

Schools years ago used to teach civics, “the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works” per the Merriam-Webster website—in other words, what it means to be an American citizen and more important how to participate in the process.

The fact that only one out of every five 18- to 29-year-olds vote makes one ponder if the lack of civics education has anything to do with such a low turnout.

With the decades’ long focus on math and English skills, knowledge in other areas have been neglected. Most children earn high school diplomas without understanding how this country operates or why it matters. This lack of awareness ultimately atrophies into apathy.

We know about the achievement gap, the disparity between skills of whites and nonwhites. Call this one the American gap.

The New York Times reports that “students are woefully deficient in their understanding of how government works” but that “the study of American government and democratic values is making a comeback.” Unfortunately, that was published in 1987.

Recent efforts to resurrect civics courses and/or mandate that students take the U.S. Citizenship test have occurred in North Carolina, Florida, Massachusetts, and Tennessee.

But with the Common Core curriculum in full swing, chances are that little will change. This is a mistake especially when considering that the majority of children in America’s public schools are from minority groups, the very groups who need to know civics since their interests would benefit the most from their involvement.

It is not so much the common math and common grammar that binds a people together; rather, it is the common culture.

One of the main charges of public schools used to be teaching children from a variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds the history of the United States as a way to bind their values, assisting them in assimilation.

With one-third of students in the L.A. Unified School District labeled as English Language Learners, meaning their parents are not from this country, isn’t it critical that these children learn about the land in which they live and will eventually prosper? The nation needs their full participation and not just them earning money and being consumers.

Knowing how government operates, knowing how individuals make up the government and do affect change are not insignificant factoids reserved for an obscure elective class.

Mandating civics courses in public schools would help unite a growing disjointed population. Just as students need to take health classes for their own personal well-being, they should take civics as part of their duty as citizens. We all benefit from an informed citizenry.

This week Gov. Brown signed a mandatory vaccination law because “immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.” Making students learn about their country as part of their education will protect the community as well.