Other Voices
Greg Zaller

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August 2, 2014
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Cannabis advocate’s facts fuzzy

As a landlord I have witnessed two of my tenants commit suicide when a marijuana addiction contributed to their lives spiraling into the abyss.

My last eviction involved a tenant whose bootlegged greenhouse caught on fire, and only thanks to sober and alert neighbors, it didn’t sweep through the county.

He also caused thousands of dollars damage to my house and then blamed it on me as an excuse to not pay the rent after he lost his job.

I could go on and on, but it really bothers me when a marijuana advocate peddling it as “medicine” writes an Other Voices column in this newspaper as Patricia Smith did, and then makes false statements to support her spurious, self-serving argument.

Local “mom and pop” growers (as she calls them), like my addicted tenants, can make a lot of money farming marijuana and so it is very important that they put a good slant on it to preserve their livelihoods.

We, the community, need to hold people like Smith accountable when they abuse an essential public forum like Other Voices to disseminate misinformation and, just as importantly, we need to rethink how we are dealing with our growing problem of drug addiction and how to turn it around.

Smith wrote that “last season, 300 illegal grows were identified in our national forests, but only one was raided. Why?

Because these growers are dangerous and require a larger task force to complete the abatement.”

Smith is outraged about her illegal and environmentally destructive competitors in the national forests — which they are — getting a free pass while local law enforcement goes only for the easy pickings, which she apparently made up.

I checked out Smith’s “facts” with Michael Woodbridge, the public affairs officer for the Tahoe National Forest.

He consulted with enforcement staff and reported to me that there were five known grows last season discovered in the TNF and all were abated.

He believes that this is the policy for the remaining 99.6 percent of the national forest.

One abatement in 300, as Smith claims, is a profoundly absurd statement. She says that she stands by her “facts” because she read them in The Union — except neither she nor anyone else, including the editor, has any idea of what she is talking about.

I offered for Smith to retract her statement and avoid me doing it, but she reiterated that she had read it in The Union and had no further responsibility.

Marijuana might be medicine to some, but clearly to others it deeply affects their cognitive skills and, especially with minors, this can alter their life path disastrously. Ask the staff in our local high schools for a firsthand account on this.

Smith also claims that marijuana intoxication is 30 percent “safer” than alcohol; it still doubles the chances of having a fatal accident compared to alcohol’s tripling of it.

Does anyone think airline pilots should be allowed to smoke a joint before piloting a plane because it is so much better than alcohol?

Why isn’t Smith, if she is so concerned about the availability of marijuana as “medicine”, advocating for strictly audited licensing of her “mom and pop” growers as we do drug companies so that they can’t sell to addicts and children or drag down the neighborhoods where they set up shop? Could it be she would make less profit?

It might sound counterintuitive but I am for the legalization of marijuana because what we do now causes crime, law enforcement is unable to protect us from its dangers, and illegality distracts us from empowering ourselves to deal with it effectively.

The ability to be sober comes from realizing its importance and having the skills and support necessary to stay clean, which works, not because there are legal penalties from getting caught, which doesn’t work.

I am the director of CoLivingNetwork.org homes where we support folks to build a life of contribution so they don’t feel the need to drug themselves.

People want to be good and have value; drug use is incompatible with that. If people are given a chance to learn how to be successful contributors, they will chose that path.

Greg Zaller lives in Nevada City.

Marijuana might be medicine to some, but clearly to others it deeply affects their cognitive skills and, especially with minors, this can alter their life path disastrously.


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The Union Updated Aug 2, 2014 01:01AM Published Aug 6, 2014 12:21PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.