Sunday, October 10, 2010


In a classroom filled by less than 50 observers, a presentation requested by the American Association of University Women was in session discussing the details of Proposition 19. Representing the pro-prop 19 side was Stephen Downing, a retired LAPD commander. In the other corner? Tom Lackey, Palmdale, California's own Mayor Pro Tem (or Vice Mayor), who is also a retired LEO with the California Highway Patrol.

Downing opened with an abridged history lesson in Cannabis while injecting bits of personal experience from his days on the beat. He explained that back in 1970 or 71 when he first became a commander there were virtually no gangs; His first territory -- South Central LA.  Stephen exclaimed, "The only gangs you could find in those days were territory gangs!" Envisioning the kind of harmless gangs depicted in movies and musicals like "Grease" or "A West Side Story."

The rise of gangs was fueled by the implementation of Nixon's "Drug War." Starting with the Crips and Bloods and ultimately becoming the thousands of gangs we see across America. Downing elaborated, "These gang's primary source of income is drugs, including marijuana. The Cartels supply the drugs to The gangs and the gangs send it into your neighborhoods."

Following this elaborate and well detailed testimony was the opponent of this initiative, Tom Lackey. Tom opened with a sort of fumbling of introductions. After trying to explain his background (qualifications?), he jumped straight into expressing his opinion about how important family is and that smoking marijuana destroys families. Lacking....Lackey proposed the typical rhetoric in an upbeat fashion, emphasizing mostly on how families would be ruined and that "If marijuana were legalized youth usage would skyrocket because children would get their pot from home." Just the same way kids steal a drink from their parents bar (legal), or some vicodin from their parents medicine cabinets (legal).

After a couple of surprising additional commenters and Stephen refuting most of the claims by Tom Lackey, the host opened up the floor for questions. One member of the AAUW asked Mr. Lackey what kind of problems Amsterdam is having with their legal pot (not really legal).  The former CHP Sergeant and special education teacher (seriously) really couldn't answer but by saying that they realized all the problems the coffee shops were causing and that they're cracking down on their laws.

After others got a chance to ask their questions, I chimed in by asking, "If family is so important..."

Lackey snapped quickly at me, "You don't think family is important?!"

The audience snickered and I corrected myself "Of course family is important to me. Rather, since family is important, what kind of affect does an arrest record or imprisonment do to a family? What happens when a father or mother or brother or even the child himself gets arrested? Does the family lose income? Does the child lose education benefits?"

Withdrawn, Tom came back with the assertion that our current policies keeps families safe and deters addiction not really addressing the specific question asked.

Post-presentation we mingled and I managed some face time with Mayor Ledford of Palmdale. Our conversation proved to be interesting and oddly jubilant. It was kind of nice to have a conversation with someone who had actual concerns that weren't necessarily fear based... I guess it was enlightening to see some sincere concern for the community he is responsible for. Unfortunately we don't necessarily see things the same way but there were some strong hints of opportunity I noticed.

Other conversations around the room involving me, involving others at this point brought me to an epiphany... we're really going to win this! A general feel to the conversations happening all around me all seemed to be pointing to a solid Yes on 19. And I think most astounding fact was the environment. The members of AAUW that had invited this forum topic, consisted largely from what I could see of women 30s+ of age. Many past 50. Even more so, the event took place at Antelope Valley College in a region outside of LA with conservative views especially known for its opposition to progressive cannabis policies.

But they got it! They saw through the veil of fear based rhetoric and captured the concept that pot... is really not that bad! They understood hat the criminal impediment given to the generally law abiding, hard working Americans doesn't fit the bill.

Is this where the page is turned? Is Proposition 19 really revolutionary? A game changer? Some conversations have chalked Prop 19 up to being of the same caliber as women's right to vote or even the Emancipation Proclamation. I think so. We may not all see it right now but the fact is, that the affects of ending the war on drugs and creating a more sensible policy will shake the foundation of the drug cartels, illegal immigration, street gang violence, prison and school overcrowding. It will take the black market down a peg and invigorate our economy. From farmers to snack food vendors and little Ma & Pop shops to hydroponics equipment businesses... enterprise and growth will ensue.

I see a WIN this November.... how about you?

No comments:

Post a Comment