Norm Sauer: Why ‘Yes’ on W
Measure W, on which we in Nevada County will vote June 7, allows indoor grows of marijuana for medicinal purposes and prohibits outdoor grows, with our sheriff focused on eliminating large illegal nuisance grows and the undesirable elements that go along with them.
Many good reasons exist to vote “Yes” on W. On balance, these reasons heavily outweigh the arguments proposed by opponents of W.
Measure W is based on a sound drug policy whose purpose is to reduce the use and abuse of drugs and their harmful effects on individuals and our community. Such a policy is consistent with our elected officials’ duty to protect the health and welfare of the residents of our county.
Many arguing against W rely on the public misconception that marijuana is a harmless drug.
Some years ago I spent five years on the board of directors of Child Advocates of Nevada County. Based on numerous studies, we learned that marijuana was a gateway drug that was 10 times more powerful than in the ’60s and ’70s, and addiction was destructive of people, families, and especially children.
Recently, inquiry by me concerning our Nevada County high school students disclosed that most expulsions and suspensions were based on a student’s marijuana use. And, after marijuana legalization in Colorado expulsions and suspensions of school children increased from 3,800 to 5,300 per year. The negative and addictive effects of marijuana use on the attention span and conduct of our youth is real and inarguable.
Measure W opponents claim permitted outdoor grows could be monitored by California state agencies like fish and wildlife, water boards, etc. However, the most knowledgeable and effective monitoring and law enforcement is by our own elected sheriff who cares more about our county than any multitude of state agencies.
Measure W also draws a bright unambiguous line: all outdoor grows of marijuana are illegal. This bright line makes law enforcement easier and the public’s knowledge of unlawfulness more clear cut. On the contrary, the attempt to fashion outdoor grow regulations will lead to quibbling, ambiguities, and ultimately more contested court cases.
Culturally, banning outdoor grows will, with time, reduce the preexisting permissive drug culture in our county, and will continue to do so even if marijuana is legalized around the state. This new culture will tend to allow residents freedom to enjoy our county without fear of menacing profiteers, and will promote our county as a desirable place to live, work, move to, and raise a family.
The argument the county and its businesses will lose money if outdoor grows are banned is weak. Big money from illegal nuisance grows leaves the county for markets of large demand. A look at the vacant stores in Nevada City also suggests outdoor marijuana grows aren’t causing our businesses to boom.
Public safety is another good reason to ban outdoor grows and change our culture. While marijuana negatively affects reaction time and attention span, there is yet no tried and true way to determine whether a driver is under the influence. Hence, reducing the number of drivers under the influence is the best way to keep our roads safe.
Another element of public safety is to look at the number of crimes reported every day in our county which are related to drug use. Reduction of marijuana grows will correspondingly lead to the reduction of drug-related crimes.
Finally, Measure W will help preserve the beautiful environment we enjoy in our county. Less illegal grows, less stolen water, less pesticides, less butane bottles and the like will result.
And lest we forget, Measure W assures that those with true medical needs can obtain medical marijuana.
Measure W is fair. It is just. It is reasonable. A “Yes” vote is a vote for a healthier and safer Nevada County.
Norm Sauer, who lives in Nevada City, is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His opinion is his own and does not reflect the viewpoint of The Union or its editorial board. Write to him at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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