When it comes to politics, there’s never a dull moment in California. And when it comes to California, there’s never a shortage of kooky political ideas.
In the past week alone, we learned that in November California voters will decide if pot should be legal in our state. Then there’s the proposal by one legislator to ban fast food restaurants from selling Happy Meals in an effort to sway kids to choose tofu and yogurt over cheeseburgers and fries.
One thing is clear: Government priorities have run amuck.
Let’s examine the marijuana measure (known as The Control and Tax Cannabis ballot initiative). This misleadingly named initiative would, no doubt, eliminate state penalties for commercial sale and non-medical use of marijuana but leaves to cities and counties any potential control or taxation of an expanded pot industry.
I do not support the proposed legalization of marijuana for recreational use, especially under the pretext that its sale will generate significant revenue. I am perplexed that many people who decry the unnecessary death, suffering and public cost attributable to tobacco and alcohol consumption believe that the mass marketing of marijuana will somehow benefit California.
I have, on the other hand, been moved by urban-based ministers who argue passionately that mass marketing of recreational marijuana will contribute to a permanent underclass in our poor communities.
The Control and Tax Cannabis ballot initiative promises more than it can deliver.
The notion that every city and county in California has the capacity to “design and implement a regulatory structure for controlling the commercial production and distribution of marijuana” is absurd. Local governments are no more able to regulate production and distribution of marijuana than to regulate production and distribution of homemade cough medicine. The initiative would authorize hundreds of different regulatory schemes, all in violation of federal law.
Food products and particularly controlled substances, like alcohol and tobacco, sold in the United States are subject to analysis and quality control by the Food and Drug Administration. The Control and Tax Cannabis ballot initiative provides no FDA approval or other uniform consumer protection and only illusory government control and tax revenue.
Moreover, the initiative will not protect commercial pot vendors from federal prosecution. If the sale of tobacco were an established violation of both state and federal law, how many Californians would vote to legalize the sale of cigarettes just for the sake of raising taxes?
After years of protesting that they only sought compassionate use of marijuana for the gravely ill or those suffering chronic pain, many of the same proponents now advocate widespread recreational use of pot. Already so-called medical marijuana emporiums have drawn crime to communities throughout California.
At a time when various local governments seek to regulate fast food consumption and salt intake, the Control and Tax Cannabis ballot initiative is a bizarre alternative. Proponents of recreational marijuana may obscure the issue with promises of a tax windfall but I remain confident that the purpose of government is not to ban Happy Meals or promote the proliferation of pot.