For better or for worse, as of Monday the recreational use of marijuana is legal in California.
What that means is unclear. There is, of course, the obvious assumption that more people will smoke the weed. But that’s not necessarily a given, because states that already allow recreational marijuana use haven’t seen a dramatic increase in use. If fact, in some cases, use by teens has fallen off.
We’ve been publishing a series of reports on cannabis, ranging from California’s long history with the weed, to the divisions of thought on legalization and how it will affect local communities.
For one thing, there will be new businesses opening, specializing in the commercial aspects of the marijuana industry. Another potential plus will be the additional tax revenues derived from marijuana and cannabis products sales.
Chances are pretty good the new “product” will be a cash cow for larger cities in California, and potentially a pain in the neck for smaller communities.
We’ve watched how the debate on legalization has played out here on the Central Coast. So far, Santa Barbara and Grover Beach are the only municipalities that will allow the sale of cannabis. Other cities, especially here in North County, and Santa Barbara County continue to argue about the merits of allowing cannabis within their jurisdictional sphere.
The little enclave of Tepusquet Canyon may have given us a preview of the battles to come. The community consists of cattle ranches, wineries and private homes on about 9,000 acres. Nearby communities of Sisquoc and Garey give the region a population of about 400.
The consensus is that Tepusquet Canyon residents are, by their own admission, not normal. They chose the remote location for a reason — so other folks would leave them alone. When marijuana growers started moving into the area, the conflicts with existing residents began almost immediately. It may be a microcosm of what will happen, and is happening in other communities.
On this final Saturday before a new year begins, roses to all those who will view this new cultural, social wrinkle as a challenge that must be faced, a conversation about how we live in every North County community — and to debate the issue in a courteous and civil way.
Roses to officials who this week urged local residents to celebrate the arrival of the new year responsibly, especially with regard to the use of fireworks and alcoholic beverages.
The requests also came with a warning — if you are caught using illegal fireworks, you could be fined $1,000.
The fireworks angle is crucial this holiday season because of the very real threat of an errant spark from a sparkler or firecracker igniting bone-dry brush and starting another Thomas fire.
The Thomas blaze started in Ventura County, burned its way into Santa Barbara County, and has become the state’s biggest fire in recorded history. Inattentive use of fireworks could set off another of those monsters.
The same local officials also warned motorists that law enforcement will be on full alert for impaired drivers, operating DUI checkpoints. Getting busted for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could cost you a lot more than $1,000.
Another warning concerns the celebratory gunfire that generally occurs on or about midnight on New Year’s Eve, which is tomorrow. One immutable law of physics on this planet is that what goes up, must come down, and a falling bullet is just as deadly as one fired from point-blank range.
Here’s an idea — instead of shooting into the air, clap you hands, shout “happy new year!”, and live to celebrate another day.