Image via Shutterstock
At last, the state will vote on recreational pot smoking: California Proposition 64. The initiative is commonly known as The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), and the fact that it's even up for a vote amazes me. I grew up at a time when weed was largely thought to turn your brain into a mound of hot, grey mush so legalization never seemed possible. Even when they argued over medical marijuana—a no-brainer if you know anyone who's had chemo—the fear was that it would open the door to recreational use, which is to say, it would open the door to people getting high for no other reason than to get high.
As usual, the people who are opposed to people getting high for no other reason than to get high are resorting to lies and/or scare-mongering to ensure that people who want to get high for no other reason than to get high cannot legally get high.
Just look at the three most cited arguments against Prop. 64: driving concerns, health concerns, and, of course, "The children, the children! What about the children?" concerns.
About driving on pot, the anti-AUMA editorial board of the Sacramento Bee wrote, "Alcohol is the primary cause of more than 500 deaths on the roads each year in California...Stoned motorists pose a hazard, too."
Now, I'm not sure why the Bee would reference road fatalities caused by a legal drug (alcohol) to argue that a different drug, with fewer traffic fatalities, should remain illegal but fine. We can go there. In 2015, the federal government via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) funded a 20-month study that showed drunk-driving to be far more dangerous than stoned driving, if the latter is dangerous at all.
"[Alcohol consumption] significantly increased lane departures/minimum and maximum lateral acceleration," researchers said. "These measures were not sensitive to cannabis."
They also found that stoned drivers "...may attempt to drive more cautiously to compensate for impairing effects, whereas alcohol-influenced drivers often underestimate their impairment and take more risk." The NHTSA also concluded "there was no evidence that marijuana use is statistically significant in boosting wreck rates."
But guess what: It doesn't even matter. Indeed, when considering the legality of any given activity, what does it matter if it's safe to drive while doing it? We all know texting and driving is risky, but is anyone talking about outlawing SMS apps? I'm pretty sure that shaving during your commute to the office is hazardous, yet we are all still free to use our razors in the bathroom. And I ask, in all the rabid discussions over gun control, have you ever once heard someone argue to ban assault rifles because it's dangerous to steer and aim at the same time?
Smoking grass is perhaps the world's only activity that people believe should be prohibited because it's dangerous to do while driving. And why is that? Because some people cannot stand the idea of other people getting baked— not to stimulate their appetite, not to treat their glaucoma, not to make jam bands more tolerable—but for no other reason than to get baked.
Another oft-cited argument against Prop 64 is that cannabis is harmful to the user's health, which shouldn't even matter in a free fucking society where free fucking citizens should be permitted to harm themselves however they fucking see fit. Regardless, after 20 years of research, no substantial health issues have been proven. Yet in the Official California Voter's Guide argument against AUMA, Sharon Levy of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Substance Abuse argued, "We should not consider marijuana 'innocent until proven guilty.' It took several generations, millions of lives and billions of dollars to establish the harms of tobacco use, even though these harms are overwhelming."
And sure, that's totally true but Sharon, dahling, tobacco is still legal! After everything we learned about the "overwhelming" dangers of nicotine, it is still legal—as it should be. And we pretty much know the health hazards of alcohol consumption, yet still legal—as it should be. Fast food consumption? Soda drinking? Sitting beside Don Trump without a pussy guard? All these legal activities have been identified as being harmful to your health yet completely and utterly legal.
The third frequently cited argument against AUMA is that it targets kids.
"What Proposition 64 is really about is exposing our children to harm in order to make billions," says the conclusion of the Voter's Guide rebuttal.
Um, no. What it's really about is to allow free fucking adults in a free fucking society to make their own fucking choices. AUMA contains myriad child protections including warning labels, child-resistant packaging and forbids packaging that is "easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods..."
One side note, care to know which industry does target children? An industry that intentionally packages harmful, unhealthy products to look like gums and candies?
The gum and candy makers that's who!
Nobody has been able to prove any significant health risks to cannabis consumption but we certainly know how sugar can mess you up: heart disease, diabetes, obesity. Ditto fast food conglomerates, with their clown mascots and Star Wars cups. Yet the people who don't want you to smoke pot for the simple reason that you like smoking pot don't mind it if your kids gorge on slabs of coagulated sucrose and Happy Meals full of salt and grease and, well, wow. As Jerry Garcia said, "What an odd, strange hypocrisy it's been."