Read Between the Lines on Pot Initiatives

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Ray Pearson is a resident of Carlsbad, parent, a trustee for the Carlsbad Unified School District, and a board member of the North Coastal Prevention Coalition.

On September 12, the Carlsbad City Council approved in a four to one vote an ordinance to prohibit commercial marijuana activities and outdoor grows, with provisions to allow federally-approved research and development activities.
The Association of Cannabis Professionals is attempting to thwart these local efforts to protect public health and safety by submitting initiatives in many cities, including Carlsbad, to bring forward a local ballot measure that would allow the retail sale, commercial growing, commercial manufacturing, delivery and distribution of marijuana for adult use. Several of my colleagues report witnessing signature gathers in the City of Vista using misleading statements, such as “Do you want to keep marijuana away from schools?” in their efforts to get people to sign their petition. We’d like to caution the residents of Carlsbad not to sign anything unless they take the time to read all the fine print and understand what they are signing.
Marijuana advocates claim that the passage of Proposition 64 in November (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act) was a public “mandate” for support of all things marijuana. Just like the Prop 64 campaign, which outspent the opposition 25 to 1, this local initiative is heavily financed by outside interests.

Prop 64 explicitly allows local jurisdictions to make their own rules, including prohibiting commercial marijuana activity.

Even in Colorado and Washington, where voters approved marijuana legalization in 2012, as many as half of jurisdictions continue to prohibit commercial marijuana activity of any kind.
As the majority of our council members stated, a “wait and see” approach is more prudent than diving into California’s marijuana regulatory system that is still being developed. Cities that have moved forward on dispensary regulations, including San Diego, continue to fight illegal operators. In Santa Ana, where voters approved regulating up to 20 dispensaries in 2014, law enforcement continues to struggle to close the unlicensed ones. That led to the permitted dispensaries filing suit against the unlicensed ones in January, claiming they could put them out of business. So regulations that were supposed to “bring order to the chaos” continue to cause chaos and burden city departments, including law enforcement.
I am in support of the mayor and City Council’s vote. It is a reasonable step in the right direction and highlights the much needed research into marijuana’s potential medical benefits, and under Proposition 64, adults are allowed to possess, transport, and share marijuana, including for medical use. It does not allow retail sales or commercial growing or manufacturing, as proposed in the initiative.
Given marijuana’s potential risks and impact to our young people, we need to proceed cautiously. Marijuana is harmful for developing adolescent brains and at-risk adults. According to the Journal of World Psychiatry, THC potency in the U.S. has increased dramatically, from 3% in the 1960’s to 12% in 2014, and extracts and oils have been found with as much as 80% THC. Long-term use of these high potency products can have serious negative impacts on mental health, academic success, and future career prospects (National Institute on Drug Abuse, www.drugabuse.gov ). Our local student surveys show that more teens use marijuana than tobacco, and smoking is the most common way of consumption (SD County Healthy Kids Survey, 2014-15). And adolescents are more at risk for addiction than adults.
As a member of the Board of Trustees for Carlsbad Unified School District, my primary concern is creating a healthy and safe community in which our youth can grow and learn. I will not be providing my signature to the Association of Cannabis Professionals, whose mission is to empower the marijuana industry.

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