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Esquire: Marijuana Prohibitionists “Losing Drug War in California”

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By "Radical" Russ Belville

(Esquire) Opponents of the proposed law to legalize and tax marijuana need better arguments, because just saying they’re concerned that kids will start driving high is sending the debate up in smoke.

In this fantastic article, John Richardson details his conversations with California Narcotics Officers Association’s president John Standish and CNOA’s spokesperson John Lovell*.  Please click the link and read the whole thing; it’s quite the take down of much of the same rubbish I debunk on a weekly basis here.  But these next excerpts just illustrate how little CNOA’s concern about marijuana legalization has to do with public safety.

“First off, the figure of seven hundred thousand arrested is factually inaccurate — people do not get arrested for simple possession. The most that happens is they’re given a citation and release. In California, the penalty for simple possession is $100 fine.”

In other words, pot isn’t all that illegal, which strikes me as a weird argument for keeping the drug war going full tilt. It also suggests they don’t take the stoned driver problem as seriously as their rhetoric suggests.

I always point out that legalization doesn’t mean that suddenly marijuana appears and some people abuse it.  If there is a stoned driver problem, it exists now.  If it is such a problem that we need to criminalize marijuana possession, isn’t a $100 fine without arrest a bit lenient?  And why isn’t this an argument for reinstating alcohol prohibition? – we know there is a drunk driver problem.

The other point I like to mention is that everywhere I go, I see bars, taverns, pubs, restaurants, and sports stadiums with parking lots, places people drive to where we know they are served alcohol.  I know for certain that some of those cars will be leaving that parking lot with an impaired driver.  We accept that most adults can handle being served an addictive mind-altering substance proven to cause traffic fatalities and that most will be responsible about it.  We even have a number, a 0.08 blood alcohol content, below which we accept a person might be somewhat impaired but able to drive.

So until every establishment that serves alcohol is required to have mandatory valet parking with a breath-a-lyzer test required to get your keys back, I don’t think we really have to worry about the “stoned driver” problem.  Besides, if we can accept 0.05 BAC drivers as capable of driving, should we fear the stoned drivers who out-perform them in driving simulators?

“For sure, it’s going to cost every employer more in insurance,” he said. “If you look at section 11340C, the only thing an employer can do is address consumption issues of an employee that actually affect their workplace performance — if you’re in possession, an employer can’t take any action. If you test dirty, the employer can’t do anything.”

So you can only punish an employee for something that “actually affects his workplace performance” – these are his words, folks. In other words, if a person gets stoned on Saturday night and comes in Monday morning 100 percent sober, there’s no way to punish him? And the problem with this is?

The problem is that it prevents employers from dictating to their employees what they can and cannot do off the job.  It prevents employers from discriminating against medical marijuana patients in hiring.  It takes away a convenient tool for human resources to intimidate and fire certain employees.  It means employers would have to treat employees’ marijuana use as they treat their alcohol use – none of the company’s business unless you show up to work impaired.

*No, they are not all Lectroids from Planet 10.  Though the CNOA’s arguments wouldn’t be any sillier if uttered by John Ya Ya, John Bigboote, and John Small Berries.  (This footnoted hip 80s film reference brought to you by one of my favorite movies ever for the benefit of the three people reading who get the joke.)


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