Baked California

Wonder what life will be like the morning after Election Day if California voters approve the ballot measure to legalize marijuana? You are not alone.

Fortunately, Angelenos are blessed with a newspaper that has the answers. The Los Angeles Times editorial board slipped the bonds of time recently, sailing forward to witness the future and returning to tell a grateful public what it saw there.

Times editorial: "Proposition 19 could cause substantial harm. For instance, it would put employers in a quandary by creating a protected class of on-the-job smokers, bestowing a legal right to use marijuana at work unless employers could actually prove that it would impair an employee's job performance."

The morning after: Schoolteachers, nurses and ambulance drivers across the state strut in to work, crank up a Cypress Hill track, blow dope smoke in their bosses' faces and shrug, "What are you gonna do about it?"

Workplaces are filled with unrepentant stoners, the likes of David Crosby, Carl Sagan, Jerry Garcia, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Barack Obama and other guys who couldn't hold a job. If only that JetBlue flight attendant had waited a few months, he could have grabbed a bong instead of a beer from the galley and kept his job.

Fact check: Proposition 19 says, "This act is not intended to affect the application or enforcement of ... any law prohibiting use of controlled substances in the workplace."

Times editorial: "Employers would no longer have the right to screen for marijuana use or discipline a worker for being high."

The morning after: In the weeks after the weed initiative is approved, employers find they are powerless to keep out the legions of baked job applicants pounding on their doors. Hear that, boss? You're going to have to hire the sleepy-eyed guy in the Bob Marley tie-dye to drive your Brinks truck.

Fact check: Proposition 19 says, "This act is not intended to affect the application or enforcement of ... any law prohibiting use of controlled substances in the workplace."

Times editorial: "Common sense dictates that a drug-free environment is crucial at too many workplaces to name — schools, hospitals, emergency response– and public-safety agencies, among others."

The morning after: The vast majority of Californians, who once freely chose to go to work sober, now feel no need to exercise self-restraint. High school principals do bong hits in the faculty lounge. Cops spark up in patrol cars. Editors of major newspapers fail to fact-check their opinion pieces.

Fact check: Proposition 19 says, "This act shall not be construed to affect, limit or amend any statute that forbids impairment while engaging in dangerous activities such as driving, or that penalizes bringing cannabis to a school enrolling pupils in any grade, from kindergarten through 12, inclusive." Also, see above.

Times editorial: "Much of the new revenue [from taxing sales of marijuana] could be eaten up by the cumbersome process of permitting and licensing sales, consumption, cultivation and transportation."

The morning after: California's budget woes grow worse as the cost of regulating marijuana drains away money, including all of the new tax revenue from legal sales of weed. Profits from the sales of California's biggest cash crop go up in smoke as a bureaucracy rivaling the DMV swells out of control, spending at least 10 times more to regulate marijuana than the state agency that regulates alcohol.

Fact check: The Rand Corp.'s estimate of tax revenue in California from legal weed is $650 million to $1.4 billion a year. The state's Alcoholic Beverage Control agency costs $58 million a year to operate.

Times editorial: "Regardless of how the vote goes on Nov. 2, under federal law marijuana will remain a Schedule I drug, whose use for any reason is proscribed by Congress. Sure, California could go it alone, but that would set up an inevitable conflict with the federal government that might not end well for the state."

The morning after: California runs afoul of the federal government. Voters rue the day they bucked Washington. California now considered a rogue state.

Double-standard check: From the Times' editorial opposing Proposition 23, the measure to suspend the state's global-warming law: "What's more, that California can't defeat climate change alone is beside the point. Since the late 1960s, California has led the nation in environmental regulation — and where California leads, other states and Congress almost invariably follow. ... With Congress currently paralyzed on climate legislation, California is the best hope for a cleaner future in the United States."


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