Tag: medical marijuana

Mellow, Harshed

by on May.20, 2010, under Politics

I don’t think this November’s California Marijuana Legalization Initiative will pass. According to Joe Mathews at Planet Zero, it’s tied in the polls (a surprise to me — another poll, touted by advocates, touted upper-50s support) and it’s losing with women, seniors and Latinos. The election is five and a half months away, however, and neither the Yes nor the No campaign has taken off in earnest.

The talking points in favor of legalization are simple: regulate and tax it like alcohol and reap more than $1 billion of revenue that can patch the holes in our budget. These are terrible talking points, and I think it’s because of this mostly bloodless approach to the issue that the initiative will fail.

The No position has an advantage in every election; people are reflexively suspicious of initiatives. (This seems not to be the case regarding initiatives promising stiffer criminal penalties.) The No campaign against marijuana legalization will be mostly fought by parents’ groups and police groups, who will go back to the Reefer Madness well, calling marijuana addictive and predicting horrible social consequences for children if they can access the devil weed as easily as they can find someone to buy them cigarettes (though I’ve been told by under-18s that it’s easier to buy pot from the old dope peddler than it is cigarettes from terrified store clerks). It will be an emotional campaign, and it will depend less on the strength of its arguments as much as it will on the ambivalence of the electorate. Consider what strikes me as one of the more effective lines of attack:

“We are quite concerned that by legalizing marijuana, it will definitely lower the perception of risk, and we will see youth use go through the roof,” said Aimee Hendle, a spokeswoman for Californians for Drug Free Youth.

I don’t think the perception of risk attached to marijuana is all that great, and I think youth use will depend mainly on price, which will depend mainly on tax rates. A voter is likely to have tried marijuana (102 million Americans over the age of 12 have), but what the Yes campaign hasn’t quite gotten its head around is that plenty of them didn’t like it, maintain a comfortable hypocrisy around their ability to procure it without penalty, and would like their children to use less of it than they did.

I also think there’s some wishful thinking among advocates that the experiment with medical marijuana and quasi-legalization has eased Californians’ fears, or that they would prefer outright legalization to the wink-and-nod around the medical marijuana regime. Again, this is a place where since no one can craft a forceful, emotional argument that legalization is superior to casual users free-riding on the suffering of actual patients, the emotional brutalism of the No campaign is likely to gain more traction.

I’ll certainly vote in favor of legalization, and I encourage our vast and influential readership to do so as well. (Hey there!) But I suspect that it will poll between tied and slightly in favor for most of the lead-up and will finally lose by a small margin. I would love to be proven wrong.

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Out With The Old

by on Jan.01, 2010, under Books, Los Angeles, Movies, Politics

In a gesture towards a clean slate, a fresh start, and a healthy digestive reaction to the upcoming bowl of black-eyed peas, here are four quick sketches for blog posts that I started to draft but never completed. Fly free, little half-born angels.

  • Great Daves of the 90’s. I read Infinite Jest as part of the Infinite Summer challenge, and David Foster Wallace’s twisting, reflexive, ouroborean self-consciousness took me back to the early 90’s. The middle year of my college career was marked by emerging consciousness of the fictions involved in pronouncements about Generation X, and the same kinds of impossibility around newness and protest that Kurt Cobain seemed to reel from in his final famous years. When Dave Eggers (whose Might magazine I had enjoyed) published A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, its hysterically self-aware style felt immediately familiar, and I put off reading it until a few years ago, when I devoured it quickly, enjoyably, and without surprise. Wallace, however, resonates with the maddening headaches of that young consciousness that everything you think is already always being said, programmed by a machine you may operate but never master. But by approaching these struggles through the character of Don Gately, a recovering alcoholic, and showing us his experience grappling with the seemingly empty but vitally true dogma of Alcoholics Anonymous, Wallace validated this familiar and vertiginous self-reflexivity while challenging and expanding it, using a feature of my upper-middle-class overeducated habits of mind to create sympathy for a broken, giant ex-con. Also noted: while I was obsessing over the meanings and traps of “Generation X” I bought a Malcolm X hat (purple X on white baseball cap) and Sharpied “Gen-” in front of the X, and added “Generation Next” to the back, a gesture which in retrospect was a bizarre fashion error.
  • Where The Wild Things Are. Where The Fantastic Mr. Fox presented a fetishization of material goods behind its trumpeted wildness, the Jonzes’ Eggers’s Sendak’s wild things are figurines in staging a Oedipal passage to adulthood. Lauren Ambrose’s monster KJ is a cool babysitter, providing a mother-figure who is also a safe object for the early stirrings of sexual desire (she swallows Max whole to protect him at one point, keeping him safe in a sticky cavernous interior). The movie’s exploration of childhood sets sail from the therapist’s couch, turning Max’s inchoate childhood rages (very well represented) into figures with names before the journey home — and into healthy adulthood — can start. A delightful adaptation of a childhood story to a therapy generation, Where The Wild Things Are was good but both HJ and I wished it wasn’t the definitive take. We wanted the magnificent sets and costumes put in the hands of two or three more writers, so they could play out their own versions of WTWTA against their own idiosyncracies.
  • Interzone. At the time, the Los Angeles City Council was considering the prohibition of medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of any residence. More typically, restricted uses will be prohibited close to schools, churches, parks and playgrounds–y’know, because the children are the future– but someone went and threw residences in there as well, leaving about two or three industrial districts where dispensaries could fill prescriptions. My proposal was for the creation of an L.A. Interzone, a la the portrayal of Tunis (?) in Naked Lunch, where head shops, dispensaries, sex offenders and strip clubs could all profitably locate.
  • Road Not Taken. I noticed that the people running to replace Paul Krekorian in the special election for California’s 43rd assembly district were all people that I knew and had come up with in L.A. politics. When I started working in City Hall I toyed with the idea of one day running for office, and if I had, it would be that election today. I made the choice not to seek elective office a long time before I got out of local politics entirely, but if I hadn’t, I could be out there today. Mutatis mutandis, I would have stacked up well. They’re a talented and friendly lot, and it should be an interesting race, but the Assembly today is no place for someone who wants to make a difference in California politics, sadly.

There. No more ideas! I’ll have to go see a movie or something. Big Josh, you back yet?

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