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Letters to the Editor

Why I'm Voting 'No' on Prop. 19

ONCE, as a teenage pothead, I was issued an admonishment from an older family friend to get off the goddamned reefer. In response, I think I muttered something about peace, love and industrial hemp; I can't remember. However, I do recall telling him that pot is harmless and that government resources ought to be directed toward combating the real threat of hard drugs. His reply was awfully memorable—you'll have to admit, it's a real gem, no matter what your personal feelings are regarding pot use. He said: "Pot is worse than those other drugs, because on pot, you can be a junkie and live, whereas a methhead or dope fiend will have the common courtesy to kick the bucket before long, if he doesn't kick the habit."

At the time I found that statement to be ridiculously callous, but with the benefit of 12 years' hindsight, full of man-boobs and mediocrity, I can finally see its wisdom.

Yet, can one person's bad behavior possibly rationalize mass behavioral regulation? Though I'm at a loss to recall an example, anthropologists agree that such has certainly been the case before in our history as a species.

Advocates of legalization argue that booze is far more harmful. Maybe so, but is that any reason why a second such substance ought to receive the same legal sanction as the first? Pot use probably has a cumulative effect comparable to alcohol's short-term one. I could be wrong: I mean, apathy, credulity, arrested development, consumption of endocrine-disrupting substances by a population leading a sedentary lifestyle while its property values plummet and its manufacturing base is outsourced to China—none of these factors have ever impeded American society, nor impaired it to the slightest degree. That must be why none of them are illegal.

Yet if I had a dime bag for every late twentysomething stuck felching off of parents, working a dead-end job, impeded in enjoying their intellect and the full potential of their relationships as emotional maturity recedes off onto the horizon—if I had that many dime bags, I'd only have enough weed to satisfy all those people for about and hour and a half.

Supporters of Prop. 19, Santa Cruz's eternal coalition of the toothless among them, want to have their space cake and eat their brownies, too. Pot is harmless—which is why we need to take cultivation and sales out of the hands of violent thugs. No one should be languishing in jail for weed—though in California the laws are such that hardly anyone is or ever will. Pot regulation ought to be a matter for local jurisdiction—except in municipalities that impose regulations potheads don't like. No law ought to regulate what adults knowingly ingest—thus, government resources ought to be directed toward combating hard drugs.

I have little sympathy for people who desecrate their bodies. It's their secondary victims I feel for. I hate tobacco smoke. I don't go to bars because I loathe insipid banter and mindless violence and can't stand the smell of stale piss and live tissue as it turns all brackish gray from the inside. Often, while riding my bicycle I smell pot smoke wafting out of passing cars and I wonder when that driver, with his reduced reaction time and titillating, juvenile preoccupations that allow so little distinction between driving and standing still, is going to send me to join the skunks and squirrels with their brains splattered across the pavement. God forbid that day ever comes, but if it does, I hope the ER doctor isn't a pot smoker, and that pothead driver's lawyer is.

Aaron Cress,

Santa Cruz

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