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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: Shining A Green Light On Local Control Of Marijuana
Title:US CA: Shining A Green Light On Local Control Of Marijuana
Published On:2012-02-03
Source:San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Fetched On:2012-02-04 06:01:56

Hardly a day goes by without a story in the news about marijuana shops
in San Diego.

Sometimes it's a robbery or break-in at a so-called "dispensary," or
we see a story about the federal crackdown on these marijuana stores.
Perhaps a lawyer for marijuana dealers is filing a lawsuit in an
effort to keep their doors open.

As of Jan. 1, a new state law went into effect that alters the course
of current events related to marijuana retailers. AB 1300
(Blumenfield) empowers cities to adopt and enforce local ordinances
that regulate the location, operation and establishment of medical
marijuana storefronts, while affirming the power of local governments
to pursue the civil or criminal enforcement of those local laws.

The new law is welcome news to San Diegans who live and work near
marijuana retailers, and whose daily lives are impacted by their operations.

Parents, who are worried about how the open, public sale of marijuana
shapes their children's view, also regard the passage of AB 1300 as
cause for celebration.

Here's why:

A study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence indicated
that adult marijuana abuse and dependence are nearly twice as high in
states where medical marijuana use is allowed. And more teenagers use
marijuana in states with medical marijuana laws, according to another
study, published in last September's Annals of Epidemiology.

Closer to home, there are worrisome trends in marijuana

In the San Diego Unified School District, seventh-, ninth- and
11th-graders participate in the biannual California Healthy Kids
Survey (CHKS). Between 2007 and 2009, more students in all grades
reported smoking marijuana. Fewer students believed that smoking
marijuana is harmful.

The presence of marijuana outlets not only makes marijuana seem
acceptable, but it directly increased access to marijuana by teens.
The number of high school juniors who thought pot was "easy" or "very
easy" to get more than doubled between 2007 and '09, according the
CHKS survey.

The most startling statistic from the CHKS survey is the percentage of
11th-graders who reporting using marijuana in the month prior to the
survey. Between 2007 and 2009, that number increased by more than 76
percent in San Diego city schools.

Everyone, even marijuana retailers, agree that Proposition 215 was not
meant to give teenagers easier access to marijuana for recreational
use. Yet it's obvious that's what has happened. For example, last
April, seven students at a middle school in Serra Mesa were
hospitalized after eating a commercially prepared marijuana "edible"
sold at a local marijuana storefront.

Youth impacts aside, marijuana retail outlets have an extremely
negative impact on public safety, attracting criminals to
neighborhoods and business districts.

The criminal activity goes beyond an occasional break-in. San Diego
Police investigated 40 marijuana stores in 2011, and found that armed
robbers had targeted one out of every five such businesses.

People just don't feel as safe when there's a marijuana storefront
around the corner from their home, or near their child's school, or in
the same building as their business.

Back in 1996, a slim majority of Californians approved Proposition
215. That measure gave limited legal protection to sick people who use
marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. However, loopholes in the
law allow recreational users who aren't sick to easily obtain doctor's
recommendations for marijuana.

The compassionate voters who supported Proposition 215 were promised
that sales of marijuana would remain illegal in California.

Fast-forward to present-day San Diego, when U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy
and San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith launched a crackdown on
illegal marijuana retailers. At the start of their joint-agency
operation, approximately 180 marijuana shops were open for business.
Some of these businesses are run by organizations from outside of our
county; none of them have obtained a business permit from the city.
They've created an industry, complete with advertising campaigns to
attract new marijuana users. They have formed business coalitions that
lobby against common-sense regulation.

Retail marijuana stores aren't good for our kids or our neighborhoods.
That's why parents, residents and businesses are applauding the
passage of AB 1300. By shining a green light on local control of
marijuana retailers, AB 1300 empowers municipalities to adopt and
enforce the laws that define our collective quality of life.

And that's a New Year's resolution worth celebrating.
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