Highland City Council Member to Address MAPP Meeting
Prop. 215, as interpreted by the California Supreme Court, and Prop. 64, as written in the proposition itself, provides for cities and counties to have complete and total control over the commercial cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana. Although the state issues the licenses, it is the cities and counties that decides who will get them. Local governments determine where it can be done, how it can be done, how many can do it and, if they so choose, they can decide to ban it in its entirety.
Egged on by police, drug war supporters, chambers of commerce and reefer madness inspired citizens, most cities and counties have been choosing the banning option. That many local elected officials are also prone to reefer madness makes the bans almost a fait accompli.
This reefer madness is aided and abetted by a city’s planning agencies that report biased and often untrue negative information about marijuana and fail to report any of the benefits. That they do this even in communities which voted in favor of Prop. 64 only underscores the deranging consequences of reefer madness infections.
So insidious is the contagion of reefer madness, that local municipal governments, most of whom are desperately trying to pay for safer communities while maintaining community services in age of shrinking and parsimonious state and federal funding, are willing to forgo millions of dollars in new tax revenues and, by providing an alternative to the illegal trafficking of marijuana, significantly reduce crime.
Except for a handful of major urban cosmopolitan cities joined by a handful of bankrupt and desperate small municipalities, advocates for the development of a commercial marijuana market have been even less successful than Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton. At least she won the popular vote, but even though Prop. 64 won in many communities, marijuana advocates have watched as many of their gains they thought they had made evaporated into thin air. Elected officials on both the local and state levels rush to pass laws drastically curtailing access and enact cumbersome and malicious regulations designed to thwart the will of the voters rather than enact the will of the voters.
So dreaded is the idea of marijuana being commercially allowed, that cities and counties in California have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to stem the infiltration of marijuana dispensaries into their communities. They issue press releases and give glowing accounts to the media about how they are valiantly working to protect their citizens from the scourge of marijuana and how many dispensaries they have closed and how they will put those last few dispensaries out of business if it’s the last thing they ever do.
The fly-in-their-self-congratulatory-ointment is that the money made by a properly run marijuana store can be enormous. Because Prop. 215 and Prop. 64 significantly reduce the criminality of marijuana distribution, local governments have difficulty imposing much in the way of criminal sanctions and rely more on civil actions which are time consuming and costly and usually result in the offending store closing down and re-opening two blocks down the street. When that happens, the city must begin the process anew to close them down again – taking up to 6 months or more while the dispensary continues to take money in hand over fist.
City leaders should be irate at these landlords that allow these whack-a-mole marijuana dispensary operations to flourish. Unless they are getting substantial re-election campaign contributions from these landlords, they probably are irate. Since these dispensaries pay rent two to four time above what the landlord could get from any other business, they are all too willing to duck the city council members at chamber of commerce meetings as they continue stuffing their pockets with dispensary cash. Dispensaries have to pay in cash as they cannot open bank accounts which many landlords love as it is far easier to hide these rental payments from the taxing authorities.
As patriotism is the last refuge for a scoundrel, children are the last refuge for reefer mad local government officials. Promulgating the tripe promoted by police they intone that marijuana must be prohibited as having legal marijuana sends the wrong message to children. One might reasonably conclude that they should be equally concerned about stores selling alcohol and tobacco also sending the wrong message to children as these far more dangerous products have a combined annual death rate of over 450,000 in the United States while marijuana has a zero annual death rate.
Elected officials are deluding themselves if they really think that by refusing to license and regulate stores selling marijuana, they will reduce the use and availability of marijuana in their communities. They will still have just as much marijuana if they didn’t have a ban, but what they won’t have is the millions of dollars in tax revenue from their residents and the residents of surrounding communities who will go to cities that have regulated its sale. These cities will gleefully use the money spent by the residents of other communities purchasing marijuana in their city to provide services, such as community centers, filling pot-holes and after-school activities, for their citizens.
Of course some, if not most, residents will not want to make the drive all the way to the cities that do regulate its sale and will instead continue to obtain marijuana the old fashion way – from criminals who do not pay any taxes essentially allowing crime to continue when they have the opportunity to reduce crime and increase revenue at the same time.
Why elected officials want to make it cumbersome and difficult for residents to obtain marijuana as permitted under state law is beyond all reason. As cities love to study an issue in order not to take any action, one would think that at the very least they would form a committee to research the issue and present alternatives including sample ordinances reflecting what a reasonable commercial ordinance would entail.
If city officials really think that prohibiting locally licensed and regulated marijuana distribution is going to mean less marijuana and make their communities safer and that their residents couldn’t use millions of extra dollars for community services and programs, a rational person cannot help but wonder what have they been drinking?
Although drinking and a fondness for alcohol might play a role, it is still puzzling as to why it is so hard to get these officials to sign off on reasonable revenue producing regulations. Although the message of increased taxes and reduced crime should be effective, it is not most likely because our delivery of the message is clearly not effective.
We need to learn how to deliver an effective message. One of the best ways that can be done is to learn from the people who we want to listen to our messages. In the Inland Empire, we will be doing that at the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project (MAPP) meetings on Saturday, June 3 in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree and at a very special meeting on Wed. June 7 in Moreno Valley, featuring newly elected city of Highland Council member Jesse Chavez.
Jesse became involved politically as a result of the death of a friend in a drive-by shooting in Highland. Jesse’s story on becoming a City Council member at the relatively tender age of 25 is very uplifting. To read about him and be inspired CLICK HERE.
As a member of the Highland City Council he has quickly picked up the intricacies and intrigues of local politics especially when it came to dealing with the entrenched powers that be when the city recently passed an ordinance banning marijuana businesses and regulating indoor personal cultivation.
How this ordinance is faring and what it being done to revisit and change it will be very instructive. When it comes time to negotiate in your community for allowing commercial marijuana enterprises as well as reasonable indoor personal cultivation regulations, this is a meeting that will be of the utmost interest and utility.
The meeting is a two-way street as Jesse would welcome ideas and suggestions on this vexing issue. Come and meet this young man – his enthusiasm is truly motivating, encouraging and exciting.
Saturday, June 3 at 12 noon - Palm Springs/Coachella Valley meeting – Crystal Fantasy, 268 N. Palm Canyon Dr., downtown Palm Springs 92262.
Saturday, June 3 at 3 p.m. - Joshua Tree/Morongo Valley meeting – Beatnik Lounge, 61597 Twenty-Nine Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252.
Wednesday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. – Moreno Valley/Western IE MAPP meeting - Greenview Medical, 22275 Alessandro Blvd, Moreno Valley, CA 92553