Legalization vs. Decriminalization vs. Repealing Or Modifying Of Federal Prohibition…

by Mark Scaramella, January 11, 2012

Supervisor John McCowen wanted to discuss an item on the County’s never-gonna-happen “legislative priorities” list for the upcoming year.

“We have ‘support legalization of marijuana’ on both the state and federal lists,” noted McCowen. “I think more appropriate wording might be, ‘support the repeal or modification of federal prohibition,’ which is really the solution. … I think one thing we've found out in struggling with this issue is we really need a federal solution…”

Pinches: “Under federal advocacy on page 11 I think it addresses that. It says, Mendocino County supports the regulation, legalization and taxation of marijuana.”

McCowen: “I'm not suggesting changing that last sentence.”

Pinches: “Don't you think that addresses that?”

McCowen: “No.”

Hamburg: “I'm certainly not going to object to adding the sentence. The difference between having it in there that we support the legalization of marijuana and changing that to –”

McCowen: “Well, how about changing that sentence to ‘support the repeal or modification of federal prohibition’ and then leave the last sentence as it is?”

Hamburg: “And tell me what the difference is between repealing prohibition and legalization? I mean, we can get into the intricacies of how alcohol, the repeal of alcohol prohibition was done state-by-state as opposed to a blanket, but I just – it’s just too technical.”

McCowen: “I think it goes to decriminalization which is a lot more palatable to many more people and less threatening than legalization. I think it states it in a way that is more likely to gain acceptance.”

Hamburg: “I used to be for decriminalization of marijuana as opposed to legalization. But it was just too laborious and confusing to explain to people the difference. And I finally gave up. And I just became in favor of legalization. But I will defer to Supervisor Pinches who might have a comment on this.”

Pinches: “You can change it or leave it the same. The whole problem is here we have 435 people in Congress and not one of them will step forward with our position. We do have an opportunity, however. We are basically right now in a new Congressional district and there will be new people running for Congress here right now between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oregon border. I think the counties to the north of us, especially, have similar goals. So I think if the counties would get together maybe we could at least have in place a local congressman who will support our position and get done with the nonsense of this whole marijuana industry. We have to get the conversation going back in Washington DC. We have never been able to do that. It's just been: Oh, legalizing pot — that's just kinda laughable. We need to have a serious conversation about this issue and I think we need to start out by putting a representative in place who supports the wishes of the North Coast counties.”

Smith, incoherent as always, declared, “I think this comes down to semantics or just personal preference. I think, again, all I'd like to reference is platforms, and the kind of document that I think we’re working with should be, is a general platform piece, so I am very open to whatever the language is, I think any of the suggestions are fine, I'm fine.”

The conversation burbled irrelevantly over and under the head of the pin until it was decided to change Mendocino County's position to, “Like, whatever,” as everyone slowly realized it didn’t really matter what the wording was, much less what Mendo wants.

In living fact, Congressman Barney Frank has introduced HR 2306 — the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011. But so far it has only 20 cosponsors, not including Congressman Thompson. HR 1983 — the state’s option approach which a few more congresspeople have signed on to — represents a tiny step toward piecemeal decriminalization, but only for medical marijuana.

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