Just when Laguna has its knickers in a twist over whether to support the BLOZD initiative, giving retirees with too much time on their hands the power to stymie new retail concepts, another, far more productive initiative is making the rounds unnoticed. One that can actually improve our mellow, instead of harshing it. Think of it as BLAWD—Bring Laguna A Weed Dispensary.
You know, cannabis, the ambassador to the plant kingdom, that magical, cosmic, medicinal flower that according to Gallop nearly half of America has tried and upwards of 12% use regularly. That’s one in eight people, 31 million adults, a staggering number for a federal Schedule 1 narcotic. Which of course boggles the mind since it’s legal recreationally in 18 states and the District of Columbia, and for medical use in 38 states. Can we bring it out from under the racially-motivated, career-enhancing folly of prohibition-era Harry Anslinger yet?
Can cannabis be harmful? Of course. So can getting on freeways. Or carrots, if you eat too many of them. The CDC reports that marijuana directly affects critical parts of the brain that are still developing in adults under the age of 18. And yet high fructose corn syrup is available to all.
Pot can also cause bronchitis-like symptoms and impaired pancreatic function among chronic users. Just like carrots can turn your fingers orange. But it’s also been linked to some very positive outcomes. According to fivethirtyeight.com, not only does it not lead to increased risk of lung cancer, it actually is associated with increased forced vital capacity, a measure of lung function (who knew those bong rips were actually lung exercises). Cannabinoids have shown great promise in treating cancer, neurological decline, and a cannabidiol-infused drug has been approved by the FDA in treating rare forms of epilepsy. THC is an effective appetite stimulator for chemotherapy patients. It works as a sleep aid for many. CBD has gained wide acceptance for pain mitigation and schizophrenia. And in one counterintuitive study, researchers found cannabis users exercised more, had better cholesterol levels, and lower BMI (Body Mass Index – which is significantly associated with mortality). And unlike alcohol or cigarettes, there is no evidence that cannabis shortens your life or makes you abusive to your family.
We’ve barely scratched the surface on medical applications of this wonder plant, but have discovered the reason cannabis can help resolve so many imbalances is because the human body has THC receptors known as the endocannabinoid system, which is a regulator of homeostasis.
Which brings me back to Laguna, you know, the one Councilmember Peter Blake told Fox News was the most radical city in the state. He’s actually right. Know why? Because way back in 1996, when California voted to legalize medical marijuana (Proposition 215), Laguna voted 71% in favor of it. Seven in ten adults! That’s 22% higher than the County as a whole. Then in 2016 Laguna voted again for the much broader legal recreational weed (The Adult Use of Marijuana Act) producing yet another 62% landslide in favor. That’s 10% higher than the County as a whole, and higher than all but eight counties in the state, including cannabis-friendly Humboldt, Mendocino and Santa Barbara.
You’d think with that kind of groundswell we’d have a flourishing cannabis sector generating sizable tax revenues for the city with the allowable two dispensaries and two delivery services. And our coveted seniors—the patients who need it most—would be better served and spared the indignity, expense, and danger of driving to Santa Ana (or allowing shady delivery people in their homes), instead receiving guidance from experts on safe use and applications. You’d assume that, but you’d be wrong. Because in a case of glaring nannyism, the City Council in 2016 voted against dispensaries out of pure fear. Fear of increased traffic. Increased usage. And of course, increased crime, with one emotional resident saying with a straight face, “First they’ll come for the weed. Then they’ll come to our neighborhoods. Then into our homes.” Maybe for Ben & Jerry, but not for you.
Now after six years, every single trope about the damage dispensaries would cause has been debunked. They generate good jobs, tax revenues, reduce carbon footprints, help street-front vitality, they’re Amazon-proof, and offer users a legal, vetted product instead of black-market, unregulated drugs sold on dark street corners or on Snapchat. Where your kids buy it. And they make streets safer because of the added security. So if our elected officials truly reflect the will of their constituents, they must enact what two-thirds of us voted for.
It’s time Laguna walks the walk of the progressive, artistic, tolerant (and okay, radical) community it’s supposed to be. Sign the petition to get this on the ballot. Tell your elected officials you support it. If the elements in it deviate from what the city concludes is the best path forward, then they owe it to us to offer a competing pro-dispensary measure that is fully vetted by all stakeholders (police, fire, schools).
Vote yes on BLAWD and no on BLOZD, because if BLOZD gets approved, they can actually block a dispensary from happening even if its approved. And that would be BLAUSEATING.
If you want to learn more about this initiative and the people behind it, listen to the interview I did with them last week on KXFM radio: kxfmradio.org/shows/laguna-talks.
Billy hosts Laguna Talks on Thursday nights on KXFM radio. He’s also the CEO of La Vida Laguna, an E-bike and ocean sports tour company. Email: [email protected]