The Backlash: Cannabis Under Fire

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the cannabis closet the Biden administration announced that five White House employees were fired after revealing past marijuana use during background checks. Other White House employees have been suspended or told to work remotely after they fessed up. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” sounds like good advice. Jared Huffman who represents the North Coast, plus 29 other representatives in Congress have protested the Biden action. 

In New Mexico, the state legislature recently declined to pass House Bill 12, that would have made cannabis legal for people over  21. The bill would have expunged the criminal records of people arrested for possession of two ounces or less of marijuana. It also would have allowed those serving time for violation of the marijuana laws to be eligible for a dismissal or reversal of their sentence. 

Closer to home, there was more disturbing news for pot lovers. Marin County residents, Jennifer Durham and Justin Pool, withdrew their application for a delivery service, “Highway 420,” at 205 San Marin Drive in Novato. The couple received conditional approval from the city council, but members of the community raised their voices in opposition and gathered more than 1,000 signatures on a petition that cried out, “Our way and no Highway 420, either.”

The site would have been a mile from San Marin High School. Opponents of the delivery service felt that was too close to kids, and too much of a temptation. Still, as marijuana advocacy groups have shown, there’s no conclusive evidence that cannabis dispensaries and delivery services attract crime and criminals, or that high school students obtain their drug of choice when a dispensary opens its doors, no matter how near to classrooms and playgrounds.

Prejudices die hard. Old bugaboos don’t easily vanish and the war on cannabis isn’t over yet, not by a long shot. Marin teens have long had easy access to weed. Teens with parents who smoke, smoke with their parents. Teens with parents who are opposed to pot, persuade other adults to buy weed for them. Some teens in Marin grow their own in backyards and on remote hillsides.

Keeping teens away from weed is as challenging as keeping teens away from cell phones. Also, as many if not most savvy parents know, telling a teen not to do something, is tantamount to an open invitation to do so, whatever it is. Teens say that adults ought to focus on their own addictions, whether they’re to fast foods, alcohol, and their own vices and devices. Yesterday’s pot foes become tomorrow’s aficionados. Pot partisan and former Bohemian editor, Gretchen Giles, tells me, “Keep the faith. We’re making progress.”

At 79, Jonah Raskin is still a teen at heart.

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