Op-Ed: Stoner and non-stoner Californians can unite in resisting Jeff Sessions
Keyboard confessional: I’ve never smoked marijuana in my life. I don’t care for kush. I hate its smell. Edibles scare me. I can’t tell the difference between THC and TBS. The one time pals offered me a joint, I declined and drank Cactus Cooler instead.
But I support the right for any adult to light up. I voted to legalize marijuana in California, as the majority of residents did, because the drug war is a disaster that destroys too many lives and wastes billions of dollars. Legalizing is great for our image as Progressive Paradise, and my only regret is that we let Colorado do it first. You know what Colorado also beat us on? Craft beer. Let us never lose again to a state with the weirdest airport in the world.
Recreational dispensaries finally opened last week, which provoked the wrath of U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” he once said. I wish he’d repeat that in front of my butcher friend, who survived Stage 4 colon cancer and regained his appetite with the help of some fat blunts.
Maybe, just maybe, in defiance of any federal overreach, I’ll buy and use a cannabis product for the first time in my life.
America’s top lawman rescinded an Obama-era pledge that feds wouldn’t crack down on states that allow marijuana, whether for pleasure or for pain. Such respect for states’ rights “undermines the rule of [federal] law,” according to Sessions — funny, because he’s from Alabama, which last year wanted to bar transgender folks from using the bathroom of their choice despite federal protections.
Sessions’ memo is a targeted attack on the California way.
Make no mistake: he has it in for us, and not just because our attorney general, Xavier Becerra, keeps smacking the Trump administration with lawsuits as if it were a piñata. Sessions could’ve issued his downer-doobie edict last summer, when Nevada began the sale of recreational marijuana. He could’ve piggybacked on Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s veto this fall of a bill that would’ve allowed weed sales. (LePage is also a toke teetotaler; he once wrote, “The dangers of legalizing marijuana and normalizing its use in our society cannot be understated.”)
No, Sessions waited until 2018, when the eyes of the nation had turned to our Green Rush. He waited to humiliate us, to try and scare us into submission.
You can’t put the nugget back in the stash, Brother Beauregard. The United States is irrecoverably going ganja. And in California, we’re ready to provide a map for the future, one the rest of the country can use to roll out the reefer economy the right way.
We’ve screwed up before. Proposition 215 in 1996 made us the first state in the country to allow medicinal marijuana. Other states followed, of course. But let’s be honest: While we were pioneers, the actual execution wasn’t pretty. Getting a doctor’s note for a card became easier than finding a good wave in Santa Cruz and made a mockery of Prop. 215’s original intent. The black market exploded as a result, and that shadiness haunts the industry from the Emerald Triangle to grow houses in suburbia.
Proposition 64 in 2016 showed that California had learned its lesson. We want weed regulated like alcohol; that helps root out a lot of the unsavory and allows further respectability to seep into the business. Legal Lady Jane also offers relief for city budgets: in San Diego alone, the Union-Tribune reported, tax revenue would start at “$5.5 million per year initially, with steady increases up to $13.7 million … in June 2023.”
Sessions could’ve waited to see how California went forward. He could’ve even directed the Department of Justice to assist us on enforcement. Such a partnership could’ve helped thaw the Cold War we have with Trump.
Instead, Sessions may start prosecuting users, sellers and growers, which will only push marijuana even more underground and make it more dangerous. Don’t take it from me. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), who long ago blocked me on Twitter because I like to mock his xenophobia, blasted Sessions in a statement for delivering an “extravagant holiday gift to the drug cartels.”
If Rohrabacher and I can agree on something, then all of us can unite on this. We squabble about everything here in California; I still maintain the only thing that brings us together is Huell Howser reruns. But a threat against our new weed trade and those who use it is another issue we can all rally around.
There’s no one way to fight Sessions. Resist whatever the feds may bring; take revenge on politicians who support him come November; support your friendly neighborhood dispensary.
As for me? Maybe, just maybe, in defiance of any federal overreach, I’ll buy and use a cannabis product for the first time in my life. I don’t even smoke tobacco, so I’m thinking something like chocolate peanut butter cups. Or maybe gummies. They’ve always seemed psychedelic and cool to me. Anyone got any recommendations?
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