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Legal pot: Is Jerry Brown right that we'd be too stoned to succeed?

California voters — thankfully — will probably not have to decide in November whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Backers of the Control, Regulate and Tax Marijuana Act, which had the most funding and organized support of four potential state ballot measures, decided to aim for the 2016 election instead. This will let California learn from the mistakes and successes of Colorado and Washington state, which are rolling out legal weed this year, and help proponents devise a better regulatory model than the state’s confusing laws on the distribution of medical marijuana.

But the delay doesn’t mean legal pot isn’t on the minds of California’s political leadership, including Gov. Jerry Brown.

“How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?” Brown asked on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together.”

We need alertness, the governor is saying, or else how can we be constantly vigilant against terrorism or the rising economic power of China? How can Californians or Americans remember that “if we see something, say something,” if the state or nation is consumed by the munchies? Or listening to ’70s rock?

Brown is latching on to an increasingly common refrain: that legalizing marijuana will lead to the dumbing down or slowing down of America.

Media mogul and author Tina Brown caused a stir this year when she tweeted upon the first sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado: “legal weed contributes to us being a fatter, dumber, sleepier nation even less able to compete with the Chinese.”

And New York Times columnist David Brooks, after admitting he smoked pot in high school, worried that the government was encouraging a slacker culture. The citizens of Colorado were “nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person most of us want to be.”

Will legalizing marijuana lead to a sleepy, slacker-filled country? Who knows? Brown and others are speculating and fretting with no research to back them up. But we do know this: Legalizing the sale and use of marijuana will mean fewer people getting arrested and going to jail, which will significantly change the lives of those individuals and their families.

Must-read headlines from L.A. to CA:

Bid to hike L.A. minimum wage gets pair of powerful backers, Los Angeles Times

As the L.A. City Council examines the living wage issue, philanthropist Eli Broad and developer Rick Caruso say they support a higher minimum wage.

Political math toughens for Democrats as Calderon takes leave, ABC News10

Two of the most closely watched issues in the final six months of the legislative session — if anything is going to gel — will require supermajority votes: a water bond and a constitutional amendment to boost the state’s budget reserve process. Both will require at least 54 votes in the Assembly and 27 votes in the state Senate to make their way to a vote of the electorate. How would either of these be shaped with the new need to court Republican senators? Is that kind of bipartisan threshold simply too high?

Businesses say fake service dogs are a growing problem, Los Angeles Times

Broad laws make it difficult to question dog owners who may be falsely identifying pets as working animals, business owners say.

Hikers cited after dangerous Malibu Canyon rescue, Los Angeles Times

Four hikers hoisted by helicopter from Malibu Canyon about 3 a.m. Sunday were cited by state park rangers for “unsafe recreational activities,” officials said. The group had crossed Malibu Creek when the water was low but became stranded as rain deluged the drainage. They called authorities about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department search-and-rescue teams deployed on the ground, slogging up the narrow canyon with little visibility, sliding mud and a creek that had become a roaring river.

Experts: New Stanislaus County orchards to gulp as much groundwater as 480,000 people, Modesto Bee

The cumulative impact of rapidly expanding almond orchards in eastern Stanislaus County soon may create a massive drain on the region’s groundwater supply. An estimated 4 million newly planted trees are expected to start consuming as much water as do 480,000 people.

ALSO:

From the FDA, a mixed bag of food labels

Frozen out of justice by the Supreme Court

Let investors ride out bitcoin's booms and busts

Follow Kerry Cavanaugh on Twitter @kerrycavan and Google+

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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