Laura Lavelle: Prop. 19: How ‘green’ do we want California to be? |

Laura Lavelle: Prop. 19: How ‘green’ do we want California to be?

After several weeks of driving by shoulder-high marijuana plants growing on the balcony of a Lake of the Pines home, I finally stopped to ask my neighbor about the plants.

“If you have a problem, the sheriff and LOP board members have already been by, and I am perfectly legal… I have prescriptions,” the LOP resident informed me.

Nevada County guidelines allow for citizens to cultivate six mature marijuana plants with 75 square feet of vegetative canopy, as long as they possess a use recommendation by a physician in good standing with the Medical Board of California.

I didn’t have a problem with the marijuana; it really was not my concern, and probably should be legal for patients with serious medical conditions such as cancer.

The quantity of cannabis growing on the balcony represents a mere fraction of what Californians will see if Proposition 19 passes next week. The proposition allows for 25 square feet of cultivated pot per residence or parcel.

This fact seems innocuous to those in favor of legalization, but many Californians see negative consequences. Widespread cultivation and penalty-free use of marijuana would have a huge impact, particularly on the well-being of minors and on California’s economy.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse publishes the short-term effects of marijuana use: distorted perceptions, memory impairment, loss of motor coordination, and difficulty thinking and solving problems.

It seems these impairments could only decrease a student’s or worker’s productivity, and increase the likelihood of work-related or traffic accidents while under the influence of the drug.

Even if some adults are diligent about keeping their stash away from the kids, others will have much easier access to pot once it is legal to grow and knowingly supply a person 18 to 20 years old. If prosecuted, the new wave of “kitchen-table” dealers could be sent to county jail for up to six months, thereby costing law enforcement more money, not less.

An increase of marijuana use might harm the family unit. Instead of getting off the sofa to play catch with Johnny or help Susie with her algebra homework, dad and mom might choose to listen to the 8-minute version of “Stairway to Heaven” and forget about the kids.

Do we really need to legalize another addictive substance that interferes with healthy and sober relationships between parents and children?

As if the harmful effects legal marijuana use could have on parenting weren’t enough, consider the consequences the legalization of pot could have on California’s economy.

What business would consider relocating to a state where it was legal for the labor force to smoke joints on their way to work? Besides the obvious drag on productivity, a greater concern would be with Workers’ Compensation insurance rates. Would you even insure a business in a state where it was legal for employees to get high?

If you think star thistle is a bothersome weed, just wait until it is legal to grow your own pot. Backyard gardens will be popping up in every neighborhood, including Lake of the Pines, with potent buds accessible to any school-age child walking home from the bus stop.

The blanket of cannabis will bring new meaning to citing California as the “greenest” state in the union.

Laura Lavelle’s column is for southern Nevada County residents to share thoughts and information. Contact her at or leave a message at (530) 477-4230.

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