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Monday, September 26, 2016

Problems with Legal Marijuana

Californians seem hot to visit a legal pot shop and smoke a joint or munch a weeded brownie. But driving home could be risky.

No one — not even highway patrolmen — knows precisely how stoned a motorist can be before he’s dangerously under the influence of cannabis.

Unlike with liquor, there’s no 0.08% blood alcohol equivalent for marijuana. There’s not even a common Breathalyzer to measure drugged driving. And there’s nothing around the corner.
The Sacramento Bee editorializes:

Shaped by their lawyers and consultants, the complex 62-page initiative would help foster an industry that would retain lobbyists and lawyers who would mold regulations to their liking. Marijuana entrepreneurs would seek to expand their market, not limit weed’s use.

One million-dollar donor is Weedmaps, a startup whose former CEO, Justin Hartfield, told The Wall Street Journal that he envisioned becoming the Philip Morris of the marijuana business, a reference to the world’s largest cigarette maker. That ought to give any student of California politics pause, given the tobacco industry’s clout in the Capitol.

It poses serious issues around driving. We’re regularly cautioned against texting behind the wheel. Alcohol is the primary cause of more than 500 deaths on the roads each year in California. Stoned motorists pose a hazard, too. Proposition 64 would use revenue generated by new taxes to develop a standard for driving under the influence of cannabis. But a standard should be in place before the drug is fully legalized, in our view.

Anti-tobacco experts who have studied Proposition 64 also say it lacks provisions that would allow for the sorts of successful educational efforts developed by California public health authorities to dissuade people, particularly youths, from smoking tobacco.

Instead, the regulatory scheme envisioned by Proposition 64 is more akin to the liquor business, another formidable lobby force. While alcohol is regulated and not legally sold to minors, it’s also a heavily promoted, advertised and normalized product. The same would happen with legalized marijuana.