Don Bessee: Measure W a middle of the road answer | TheUnion.com
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Don Bessee: Measure W a middle of the road answer

Recently some guy from Nevada City thought he would attack SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) by repeating some discredited bovine scatology from an old pot magazine article in an effort to attack Measure W.

He tried to kill the messengers by repeating the claim that pharmaceutical companies fund SAM and that’s why no one should listen to the latest science. I was invited to attend the closed SAM National Board meeting at the end of last year where the budget was reviewed. SAM gets no money from pharmaceutical companies.

He went on to disparage the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and the local drug free coalitions, like our own Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County, because CADCA has been the recipient of grants from opioid producing companies. Considering that CADCA and the coalitions have a remarkably successful record of reducing improper access to prescription medications, it is only right that the manufacturers help fund those prevention efforts.



Programs like the drug take back events and unneeded prescription medication collection bins at pharmacies have been wildly successful in getting excess medications out of the home so kids can’t pill poach.

The same basic issues that fuel opioid abuse are the problems with too much pot production — unscrupulous, greedy doctors and illegal diversions to youth.




The vast majority of opioid abuse is by people who are not under a doctor-supervised pain management regimen, as is the case with overdoses. Most overdose deaths are the result of a combination of drugs, not just a pain medication.

This person then went on to savage SAM Co-Founder and former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, because he had self-acknowledged issues in his life. He frankly and richly documents his journey and recovery in his latest book, “A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.”

Patrick and his family have the most tragic story in American political history, with his uncles, JFK and RFK, murdered, his cousin John Jr.’s tragic early demise, and the impacts of those events on the family of those American heroes. That he grew up with those experiences and is now an advocate, is an act of immense bravery. There are many people who have had issues and recovered who are involved in recovery programs across the county and they are some of the most dedicated drug prevention workers.

These gratuitous attacks on caring people were part of the disinformation campaign against Measure W that is largely funded by committees that have no local connections. Do they have a financial interest in illegal pot grows?

Why is a lawyer from San Francisco, a Washington D.C. money bundler, and people from the Los Angeles area spending so much money to deny the people of Nevada County their voice? They allude that putting this issue before the voters is bizarre and somehow improper.

They don’t want you to know that the counties of Butte, Yuba and Siskiyou, as well as the cities of San Jose, Davis and Sacramento, all have pot issues on the June ballot, just like Nevada County. Half of those were put on the ballot by growers. Letting the people exert local control is becoming the norm in California.

Their real problem is they don’t want us to decide, they want to force us to be their pot plantation in pursuit of profits, at the expense of our communities.

They point to Colorado and Oregon as models, but 75 percent of Colorado voters said no to the commercial weed bandwagon. Recently, Klamath County, Oregon voters kept their pot restrictions in place by 16 points, as did Littleton, Colorado.

While we were trying to get our first pot ordinance in place four years ago, Roseville restricted outdoor grows. While we were debating Measure S two years ago, Sacramento County restricted outdoor grows. Half of the state already decided that outdoor restrictions were the answer. We are late coming into balance with the rest of our region. We saw in the last two years what having the most liberal pot rules did to homeowners’ quality of life.

Measure W is a middle of the road answer that is neither the most restrictive nor the most liberal in the region. Right in the middle of the pack is where we want to be. We are a compassionate community and that’s why we went with 12 plants, when much of the region only allows 50 square feet.

Don’t let outside interests dictate our future by buying the election, let them hear your voice at the ballot box! Yes on W.

Don Bessee is the executive director of SAM of Northern California and a resident of Nevada County.


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