By Russ Belville, AlterNet
As California gets set to vote on Prop 19 – an initiative to legalize marijuana statewide – some people’s minds are being completely blown, man. But it’s not the people smoking the stuff, it’s the people trying to keep it banned.
I’ve collected the eight craziest claims about a post-legalization state of California predicted by opponents of Prop 19. Stunningly, three of these crazy predictions come from people who do use marijuana, proving once again that with enough repetition and scaremongering, you can convince a certain percentage of any group to vote against their own best interests.
8. The federal government will pull all its contracts with California businesses because they won’t be able to drug test employees!
This is a favorite of the California Chamber of Commerce. The idea is that since the federal government has a Drug Free Workplace Act, when California law no longer allows employers to discriminate based on pee, all these California companies wouldn’t be able to comply and the feds would pull all their contracts and grants.
Never mind that these same opponents predicted the same dire consequence when California was considering Prop 215, the initiative that legalized medical marijuana fourteen years ago, and we haven’t seen any contracts or grants pulled since. The plain fact is that the Drug Free Workplace Act doesn’t actually require workplace pee tests. This from “HRHero.com: Your Employment Law Resource” (emphasis mine)…
…employers must certify that they will provide a drug-free workplace. The law doesn’t require alcohol or drug testing, but testing is implicitly authorized as a means to maintain a drug-free workplace.
So what does it mean to provide a “drug-free workplace”? Certainly that must mean that even if they don’t have to drug-test, they couldn’t comply because Prop 19 would allow employees to possess marijuana, right? Wrong.
Employers whose companies fall under this category must have a policy prohibiting the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance in the workplace and specifying what actions will be taken in the event of violations.
When Prop 19 passes, possession of marijuana, up to an ounce, is no longer unlawful. There is no basis to claim a California company was allowing “unlawful possession”, so they could still maintain an “(illegal) drug-free workplace” and therefore, give no reason for the federal government to pull any contracts or grants.
7. Legalizing marijuana for healthy people will end medical marijuana for sick people!
Try to wrap your mind around the idea that allowing everyone to grow a 25 square foot garden means sick people will not get their medicine. Then imagine that a court will decide that a public that voted for legal marijuana for healthy people really meant to end medical marijuana for sick people. If you can manage that, you’ve entered the mind of J. Craig Canada.
Canada’s analysis rests on this bit of Prop 19’s language:
Provide easier, safer access for patients who need cannabis for medical purposes.
The courts will determine that this means Prop. 19 is intended to amend and supersede California’s medical marijuana laws; Proposition 215 (H&S 11362.5) and SB 420 (H&S 11362.7-H&S 11362.9).
Then Canada goes on to criticize the next two paragraphs in the initiative, which provides cities the right to tax and regulate marijuana for adults, “except as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.”
Got it? Canada says the first paragraph will supersede – that is, eliminate – California’s Prop 215, and then moves on to the next two paragraphs that specifically provide exceptions under Prop 215. So I guess Prop 19 makes Prop 215 moot… except when it doesn’t.
6. Legalizing marijuana will never raise any money because the social costs would outweigh any fiscal benefits… look at alcohol and tobacco!
Forget for a moment that in this country, we don’t determine people’s rights based on whether it makes a buck or not. (I mean, we shouldn’t.) It doesn’t matter whether legalizing marijuana will make a dime; it is simply wrong to lock up adults for smoking pot. Proponents of Prop 19 have floated the idea that legalizing pot would raise tax revenues for the state and the opponents, like San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer, who is acting president of the California Police Chiefs Association, deny that advantage of the proposition by pointing out that alcohol and tobacco taxes bring in less than what alcohol and tobacco cause in health and safety costs
This is one of the instances where figures don’t lie, but liars figure. Indeed, the taxes we collect from alcohol and tobacco don’t come close to covering the social costs from those substances. Lung cancer, cirrhosis, emphysema, drunk driving, cigarette breaks, domestic violence, after a while the costs of smoking and drinking add up… because smoking and drinking are toxic and addictive.
Marijuana is neither toxic nor addictive. A Canadian study found that a tobacco smoker cost the country $800 per year, each drinker cost $165, and each toker cost $20, and half of that was laundry costs for Cheetos stains (I kid!). Also, it is not as if nobody is smoking pot now and post Prop-19 we’ll be overrun with tokers. People are smoking pot now and we’re taking in zero dollars in taxes and we’re spending a billion dollars in California failing to stop it.
5. Big Tobacco will buy up great huge tracts of land in Northern California and mass produce lousy joints pumped full of toxic addictive chemicals!
This is one of the complaints by the people making money growing marijuana now, mostly in Northern California, who have long claimed that “Philip Morris is buying up 400 acres of land in Humboldt County in case legalization passes” and “RJ Reynolds already has the trademark on such names as ‘Acapulco Gold’, ‘Maui Wowie’, and ‘Panama Red’ for their joints once legalization passes”.
These urban legends have been around as long as there have been hippies. Any in-depth search of news archives from Humboldt, Mendocino, Trinity, and Del Norte counties in California will fail to find the great Philip Morris land buy – you can imagine that would make for an above-the-fold headline in a local “Emerald Triangle” newspaper. Another search on the US Patent & Trademark Office finds all sorts of interesting trademarks for pot names, but none owned by a cigarette company.
But let’s suppose Big Tobacco wants to get into cannabis production. Prop 19 gives individuals the right to grow their own marijuana and share it with friends. This isn’t tobacco, where cigarette companies have a captive audience for an addictive substance with proven toxic results from repeated use. If Big Tobacco makes a bunch of toxic schwaggy joints, who’s buying them? They’ll have to produce a product that’s a better deal than growing and rolling your own.
4. Today’s pot is fourteen times more powerful than Sixties weed and will lead to more crack babies!
Credit Los Angeles Bishop Ron Allen for this bit of reefer madness. “It’s going to cause crime to go up. There will be more drug babies,” he warned the LA Times. The New York Times reported on Allen describing marijuana as “the most sinister drug,” and asking that “the demonic spirits be cast back into hell.” The good Bishop should know, because he was a former crack addict and the first illegal drug he used was marijuana.
The logical problem with Bishop Allen’s gateway theory is that while nearly all crack addicts have smoked pot, very few pot smokers have ever smoked crack. The only commonality between marijuana and crack is that they are both illegal drugs (even then, marijuana is more illegal; it is in Schedule I while cocaine is in Schedule II). Marijuana doesn’t make people smoke crack any more than alcohol or tobacco makes people smoke crack, at least according to the US Institute of Medicine.
I’ve been following the US government’s Potency Monitoring Project for years (yes, there is a federal agency using your tax dollars to prove just how diggity dank your chronic is). The most potent weed seizure I recall was 37.2% THC. So if Bishop Allen was smoking weed that was 14x weaker than that, he was smoking 2.65% THC weed, or a grade somewhere between ditchweed and feral hemp at best! Since the average weed seizure tests at 8.52%, Bishop Allen was smoking the equivalent of a hemp t-shirt.
The Project has shown average potency to have doubled, which means nothing since THC is non-toxic, can’t cause overdose, and is self-titrating, which is a fancy way of saying you smoke til you get stoned then you stop, whether it’s one regular joint or one-quarter of a potent joint.
3. People who smoke marijuana in the same apartment building as a child will be arrested! (Not that your landlord will let you grow pot anyway.)
There are some marijuana smokers who think that an ounce of cannabis and a 25 square foot garden just aren’t enough. They’ve taken to sifting through the initiative for every possible flaw, misinterpretation, and slippery slope to muddy the conversation. Take this 2am-stoned-to-the-gills contemplation of “space”.
…consuming cannabis would be illegal in the same “space” as a minor. Police and judges are free to interpret the word “space” to mean the same room, house, or entire apartment complex.
Well, I suppose police and judges are free to interpret the word “space” to mean the Cosmos, and since there are children in the universe, the vote to legalize marijuana means nobody can smoke pot anywhere!
If that wasn’t enough to dissuade you, renters would have to (*gasp*) ask their landlord’s permission to grow marijuana! I can’t imagine why property owners would be apprehensive about that…
While growing your own supply is fun as hell, it can also be messy, dangerous, and can easily cause damage if done improperly. (Not to mention homeowners insurance is likely to rise and homes containing cannabis could face seizure by the federal government.)
So, to sum up, you should vote no on being able to grow weed and hold an ounce, even if you own your own home, because some renters wouldn’t be able to grow (but could still hold an ounce) and you couldn’t smoke around kids.
2. Legally home-grown marijuana will lead to outbreaks of toxic deadly molds!
It’s fascinating to me the little niches some prohibitionists stake out. Canada’s Barbara Kay works the “pot causes schizophrenia” angle (it doesn’t). Calvina Fay likes to put quotes around “medical” marijuana. But for sheer 50’s sci-fi horror predictions about legalization, nobody can touch Alexandra Datig of NipItInTheBud2010.org and her dire warnings of toxic mold…
Aspergillus & Stachybotrys
Next Health Nightmare If Marijuana Legalization Takes Place?
In 1996, there was a study of 10,000 cases of Aspergillosis with treatment costs of $633 Million. That means on average, just to try and treat (not cure) the problem, each case accrued average costs of roughly $63,300.
If the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 passes, 1/3 of California will be at risk of serious BLACK MOLD CONTAMINATION as well as Aspergillus exposure. And how will anyone be able to control the contamination when anyone can cultivate marijuana in their home or backyard at any time without supervision? …Well? …Anyone?
Aspergillus is a toxic mold and yes, it does grow on marijuana (if you’re a lousy grower). It grows on carpets, trees, and drywall, too. It killed 261 people in 2004 for a death rate of 0.88255 deaths per 1 million people. You are more likely to die from appendicitis (371 deaths) than aspergillus.
Still, it might be scary until you realize that people are growing marijuana indoors now and because it is illegal, do it in ways that are more likely to cause an outbreak of mold.
1. Workplaces would be overrun by workers smoking marijuana on the job!
We opened up with the California Chamber of Commerce, so it is only fitting we end with their most apocalyptic pronouncement to date:
Imagine a workplace where employees show up to work high on marijuana and there is nothing you can do about it. That’s what employers can look forward to if Proposition 19 passes.
Employers would have to permit to employees to smoke marijuana at work.
Prop 19 does nothing of the sort. It specifically retains “the existing right of an employer to address consumption that actually impairs job performance by an employee shall not be affected.” Nobody is going to be working blazed with no fear of being fired – California is an “at will” employment state, anyway.
The Chamber’s real fear – and they’re not even shy about saying so publicly – is that management won’t be able to discriminate against workers who might smoke pot off the job:
Employers would be prohibited from discriminating against marijuana users by taking marijuana use into account when deciding whether to hire an applicant.
When it comes to legal analysis, I prefer the non-partisan California Legislative Analysts Office take on Prop 19 and the workplace:
State and local law enforcement agencies could not seize or destroy marijuana from persons in compliance with the measure. In addition, the measure states that no individual could be punished, fined, or discriminated against for engaging in any conduct permitted by the measure. However, it does specify that employers would retain existing rights to address consumption of marijuana that impairs an employee’s job performance.
So that’s it – if you vote to legalize and tax pot in California, the state will lose all federal contracts, end medical marijuana, cost billions, create toxic addictive schwaggy joints, lead to crack babies, eliminate smoking in the Cosmos, overwhelm us with toxic mold, and fill the workplaces with blazed wastoids.
And they say smoking pot will make you crazy. Seems like legalizing it makes some people crazier.
Russ Belville is NORML's outreach coordinator.
© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/147891/
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The 8 Most Absurd Excuses for Trying to Defeat Legal Pot
AlterNet: The 8 Most Absurd Excuses for Trying to Defeat Legal Pot