Oct. 27 2014 04:46 PM

Let’s move this time machine to 2014, shall we?


I suffer from election fatigue, thanks to the constant barrage of campaigning, the devious tactics of politicians and signature-gatherers, the endless pamphleting, the calls asking for money. (Please, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: Quit asking me to help Al Franken. The answer will always be no, unless the all-powerful electeds want to pay for my kid’s college education, which means properly funding our public schools so they can properly educate kids in the first place.)

The never-ending election cycle has largely become white noise for me, and I’ve mostly quit paying attention. Mostly. I do know about the scoundrel and palm pilot Carl DeMaio. And I know about Proposition F, the medical-marijuana initiative in Encinitas. 

No, I don’t live anywhere near Encinitas. But a lovely, graceful, terrific writer friend of mine does, and, last week, she—a cancer survivor and user of medicinal marijuana herself—drafted a lovely, graceful, terrific letter to some local publications about Prop. F. More specifically, it was about her opposition to it. 

And her beautifully presented two-fold argument? She doesn’t want her children walking past a dispensary on their way to school, and dispensaries are not on her list of “businesses that make for a vibrant community.”

Now, I highly respect, admire and am often in agreement with this friend on many issues. But Jesus Lord, Mary, Joseph and Great Scott. What year is this, 1936?

That was the year that FDR—campaigning on the popularity of the New Deal—creamed his Republican opponent to win reelection. It was the year Jesse Owens upset Hitler’s Aryan superiority contest by winning four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. It was the year stress was first recognized as a medical condition. And, perhaps not ironically, it was  the year Reefer Madness was released.

While engaging in a very civil online dialogue with my friend and others, and even as she was calm and clear in her own defense, she echoed for me the swirly eyed hysteria portrayed in the film, reminding me of a story my husband once told me: A college friend of his was in an argument with her mother, who said, at the height of frustration, “And don’t think I don’t know that you’re upstairs smoking the bonks!” He and his friend busted up laughing because, of course, they’d been smoking the bonks. 

My friend reminded me of the bonk mom, and let me say here that she is no bonk mom.

Admittedly, I can understand that a dispensary isn’t adding to her quaint beachside community in the way a restaurant or boutique would. I’m not obtuse; I’ve seen what dispensaries are like in my community, and they’re not exactly vying for any orchid awards or neighborhood-improvement shout-outs at this juncture. But my friend tiptoes dangerously close to NIMBY boundaries when she urges that such establishments be located in more industrial areas.

I’m not going to get into the possibly coded (even if unintended) language about which neighborhoods are more appropriate for dispensaries; there’s enough to unpack there for it’s own column. But were Prop. F to be approved, Encinitas could dictate what a dispensary looks like and how it contributes to, rather than detracts from, a community.

Which is all to say, I can relate to this position far more than I can her Helen Lovejoy attitude.

A building with weed inside is, to my friend, a metaphorical welcome mat for The Children. Additionally, the young adults she’s seen buying weed in the dispensary aren’t buying the medicinal kind of weed, and she’d prefer her kids don’t have to lay eyeballs on such stoners. That basically means she’ll need to steer clear of North County surfers.

And to be consistent in her I-don’t-want-my-kid-exposed-to-unsightliness stance, she would have to also be wary of exposure to the alcohol sold in the aisles of Target. And the grocery store. And gas stations. And that which her kids see adults consuming. 

The reality is that having legally regulated pot dispensaries in a community is not going to equate to little kids suddenly digging into their weekly allowance to fund the purchase of a dime bag (is there even such a thing any more?), just as they aren’t purchasing Mike’s Hard Lemonade because it’s on the shelf in the store. Neither is it going to make any of it more accessible than it already is. 

The key here is to legally regulate weed just like we legally regulate alcohol. And then have parents do that parenting thing called parenting and talk (openly and frequently) to our young’uns about drugs and alcohol, about their impact and about making good choices. 

My friend doesn’t disagree with me on the latter point, but she really believes that dispensaries near her community will somehow change the equation with deleterious effects. “The science on this is clear,” she said. “Marijuana affects the developing brain in potentially serious ways.” 

This may be true, but the science is also clear that there’s no benefit to assigning homework in elementary school and that it is, in fact, harmful to kids, causing them “stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance and even alienation from society,” according to a recent Stanford study of roughly 4,300 students. “Are you going to write letters to the editors about that?” I asked.

Fortunately, there are many treatments for stress and physical health problems and whatnot, pharmaceuticals being a popular choice; the bonks should be a legal alternative, and regulated dispensaries should be a part of that equation.

If the science is clear, the kids and I are going to need it.

Email Aaryn Belfer. Aaryn blogs at aarynbelfer.com and you can follow her on Twitter @aarynb.