Local cities do right with marijuana bans


As California continues its worrisome slide toward marijuana legalization, Palmdale and Lancaster officials are doing the right thing in reasserting the cities' bans on marijuana cultivation, deliveries and dispensaries.

Facing a March 1 deadline contained in laws adopted in September by state lawmakers, the Palmdale City Council earlier this month voted to rescind and readopt the city's seven-year-old ban on marijuana dispensaries as well as enact specific new bans on growing marijuana or delivering it inside Palmdale city limits.

In Lancaster, the Criminal Justice Commission has recommended the Lancaster City Council take similar steps.

The possession of marijuana remains prohibited by the federal government, despite California's medical marijuana laws and legalization even for recreational use in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia.

California was the first state to allow for the medical use of marijuana with the approval of Proposition 215 by voters in 1996.

In 2000 in Colorado, voters passed that state's own medical marijuana law. Beginning in 2009, because of a court ruling and federal government actions, marijuana in Colorado became commercialized if not legalized, with pot retailers regarded as "caregivers" to people with marijuana cards.

In 2012, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational purposes for anyone over age 21.

There's no doubt that Colorado traffic fatalities involving marijuana have increased and the number of hospitalizations related to marijuana have increased, following first commercialization and now legalization. As adult marijuana use has increased in Colorado, so has use among teenagers and younger children.

Between 2006 and 2014, as Colorado traffic fatalities overall declined from 535 to 488, fatalities involving drivers or pedestrians testing positive for marijuana increased from 37 to 94, according to a law-enforcement organization called the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

Marijuana-related hospitalizations increased from 6,305 in 2011 to 11,439 in 2014.

When the Palmdale City Council voted in 2008 to expressly prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries, the reasons included a list of secondary effects including illegal drug sales and activity in their vicinities, robberies of persons leaving dispensaries, an increase in vacancies in commercial areas around them, and customers reselling marijuana to others or driving under the influence of it.

A violent robbery in which one person was shot and two beaten earlier this month at an illegal dispensary in Littlerock does nothing to argue against the marijuana ban. Neither does Colorado experience.


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