Don Bessee: Legalization inevitable? Not so fast | TheUnion.com
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Don Bessee: Legalization inevitable? Not so fast

As we sit here a year out from the massive defeat of Measure S in Nevada County, we have heard the same folks telling anyone who will listen that full legalization of commercial pot is inevitable.

The reality of the lessons learned in the last year is that all indicators say it is anything but inevitable.

Since Measure S went down in flames, every municipal election across the state has gone our way. Crackdowns on dispensaries rolled across the state. Even major sections of Silicon Valley moved to ban commercial pot shops entirely.



More and more outdoor cultivation bans have come into effect. The two highest-ranking Democrats in the state, Gov. Brown and Sen. Feinstein, have made compelling cases against full legalization of commercial pot in California. They cite the lessons in Colorado, our children’s development and their competitive futures.

Since Measure S went down in flames, every municipal election across the state has gone our way. Crackdowns on dispensaries rolled across the state. Even major sections of Silicon Valley moved to ban commercial pot shops entirely.

In addition there are concerns about school bus drivers, pilots, fuel truck drivers and there being no time sensitive test for THC intoxication.




Lt. Gov. Newsom, a proponent of full commercial legalization, had a commission set up last year to perform a comprehensive review of the medical marijuana “industry” and the implications of full commercial legalization.

Recently issued, much of it looked like it was written by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). It said we should not view marijuana taxes as a potential source of general fund revenue.

That does not even factor in the societal costs, like rehab and mental health increases.

Over the last year, we have watched the MBA presentations across the state selling the business models for fully legal commercial weed. Then something stunning happened in just the last two months

First the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the cost of pot may not be deducted as a business expense by anyone. That from the most liberal appellate court in the country.

Then the next shoe dropped, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the National Credit Union Administration both refused to issue licenses to financial institutions that wanted to be the weed industries bankers. The implications of these three events cannot be overstated.

No business deductions and no banks blow up all the carefully crafted business models that had been touted in California.

This seriously reduced any profit projections for big pot.

In the midst of all of that, another issue exploded on the scene, literally.

Butane Hash Oil (BHO), who’s euphemistic marketing name is “honey oil” as explained by Jim Hemig in his column (The Union, June 19).

This is a process where mass quantities of butane are run through what used to be waste trimmings of marijuana plants. That’s reportedly what blew up the house on Sacramento Street in Nevada City.

This creates nearly pure THC, the psychoactive component in pot that gets you high. It’s gotten so bad that burn centers are reporting nearly 10 percent of their beds are filled by victims of BHO.

That is more than house fires and car accidents combined. This threat is even greater here in our drought-stressed forests.

Now that all municipalities have to adjust their medical marijuana rules to come in line with AB266, they all have to address the unfettered access to large volume butane canisters, giant cans that have no legitimate application.

Even Americans for Safe Access have denounced this unsafe practice. AB266 was just signed by Gov. Brown; it came from the Police Chiefs Association and the League of California cities.

It was whittled down in the legislature to be meaningless, then the governor stepped in at the end of session.

The resulting bill has brought an end to the wild West of weed at the state level.

The resulting bill retained the most desirous aspects, total local control, licensing and at last definitions that apply across the board.

One of the most important aspects is stating clearly what personal medical marijuana is and what is commercial. Collectives as we know them have been banned.

A personal grow is now 100 square feet of medical marijuana with a recommendation. Family type collectives may only have five people for a total of 500 square feet.

Anything larger by definition is now commercial, as we all knew already

We have until March 2016 to adjust our limits downward and continue our ban on commercial medical marijuana in Nevada County.

Ohio legalization was billed as a national trend indicator and to legalizers’ surprise; it was defeated 2 to 1.

Don Bessee lives in Alta Sierra.


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