Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call Don’t stand in the doorway, Don’t block up the hall For he that gets hurt, Will be he who has stalled There’s a battle outside ragin’ It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls For the times they are a-changin’… The Times They Are a-Changin’ Bob Dylan
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
“The high times they are a-changing!” Beginning today a new law signed by the Governator goes into effect that reduces possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction no more serious than a speeding ticket. Until today, possession of less than an ounce was punishable by arrest, a possible court appearance and/or jail time, a $100 fine and a criminal record. Well, as 60’s pop duo Chad & Jeremy used to sing, “that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.” As of today there is still a $100 fine, but no arrest, jail time or criminal record, bringing California another step closer to full legalization.
After the defeat of Prop 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 in November, opponents of the controversial initiative declared a major victory in the fight to stop the legalization of pot. “California has spoken!” they declared. Actually the vote was nowhere near the double digit victory they’d predicted. The margin of victory was 7% about 698,000 votes.The enactment of today’s new law takes much of the punch out of their victory, but they vow to continue their battle against the evils of the devil weed! Supporters of Prop 19 say the new law is a step in the right direction, but the ballot measure is still needed. The new law, they say, will help pave the way for passage of a marijuana initiative in 2012.
So what the hell happened? why did Prop 19 lose? Aren’t there enough former, pot smoking baby boomers out there who would have voted yes? According to pollsters prop19 appeared to going strong and gaining momentum as late as September, but by election time it had lost a lot of ground. Several reasons can be cited for the defeat, but the most significant was a lack of cash in the final weeks of the campaign. This was made apparent by the proportionately low number of pro Prop 19 ads on TV, radio and newspapers, while Prop 19 opponents flooded the media with their message of doom and gloom. Their last minute barrage of negativity paid off and most likely swayed the undecided to vote no.
If Proposition 19, had been approved, it would have legalized a number of marijuana-related activities in California and given local government the authority to regulate these activities. This would have allowed for the collection of marijuana-related taxes and fees, and allow them to impose criminal and civil penalties as well. Seems we’ll just have to wait until 2012 and be satisfied with the new law for the time being.
Personally I applaud the governator on this one. Our state is in a financial crunch, the new law will save money as well as time. Our current justice system is a joke, the courts are overburdened and backlogged, simple marijuana possession cases clog the system making it difficult to get more serious cases before a judge. The courts should not have to waste their valuable time and limited resources on such a minor offense as marijuana possession. The new law will also free law enforcement agencies to pursue more serious criminals. All I can say is “It’s about time.” I can see it already, across California aging, baby boomers donning their pasley and tie-dye, rummaging through their attics, garages and rental storage units, looking for their long forgotten bongs, pipes, roach clips and other assorted paraphernalia. Granddads and grandmas kicking back in their recliners sharing a bowl, turning up their hearing aids, and listening to some good old classic rock! Right On! As a former pot smoking, baby boomer myself, I have mixed feeling. I enjoyed catching a buzz back in the day and I suppose I still would, but it’s been years since I’ve had a pot buzz . Now my drug of choice is alcohol. I catch a beer buzz, wine buzz, margarita buzz or mai tai buzz. Honestly I’m not sure which is worse, pot or alcohol. A little pot goes a long way, while it takes much more alcohol to get a booze buzz. I really don’t know if I want to smoke even a little pot. The whole sucking smoke into my lungs part of it, I don’t know. Now I did always enjoy those ‘special’ brownies though, Hmm, maybe I could take up baking! I’ll have to think about that one…
Have a potsperous New Year!