By Colleen O’Connor
The genius and wisdom in Aesop’s fables are eternal.
No more so than the tale of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse.
Remember the kindly country mouse who invites his rich cousin from the city to come visit? Disappointed with the sparse meal he is given, the City Mouse leaves, but extends an offer to his poor relative to visit the City and enjoy a grander, more sumptuous meal.
Seeing the splendid repast that the City Mouse provided, the Country Mouse sat down in wonder to eat—until disturbed by an intruder—a cat. Both mice quickly scurry away and hide.
Again, they sit down to eat—but are disturbed by another intruder—and must bolt once more.
“Goodbye,” said the Country Mouse. “You do, indeed, live in a plentiful city, but I am going home where I can enjoy my dinner in peace.”
The city, however, looked at the wonders of taxing and regulating the product, (a billion-dollar industry in just a year with increased tax revenues in the millions) and started its ineffectual “Buy Safe. Stay Legal” public relations campaign.
The County Board of Supervisors, by contrast—looked at Colorado—and saw more dangers lurking. They wisely voted “NO.”
As Supervisor Diane Jacobs remarked: “Its extremely obvious that legalization of marijuana in Colorado has been a disaster.”
Colorado has seen an increase in crime, homelessness, mental illness (such as schizophrenia), plus skyrocketing emergency medical costs associated with overdoses, driving under the influence, etc.
In short, the supervisors understood that the the legalization of marijuana, for personal use, will attract more than just a few nefarious fellows to disturb the peace.
Many also ask, “Why can’t they get a prescription for medical use—which is easy to acquire?”
Other well known arguments against legalization include:
- It is a “gateway drug” that can lead to more dangerous, un-treatable addictions
- More crime will follow, as will medical expenses to treat addiction-related overdoses
- The cost of enforcement will skyrocket
- Pot shops will proliferate in many neighborhoods
- Industrial-scale farming of marijuana plants will consume precious local water
- There are no tests (unlike alcohol) to accurately measure “drugged driving”
Hence, the strenuous opposition to Proposition 64 by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the California Hospital Association.
Odds are great that the costs to taxpayers will outweigh any increased revenue from legalization.
Additionally, federal, state, and local governments will be snarled in competing rules and regulations over the terms “medical” and/or “personal use” as well as “home grown” or “plantation” cultivation. Expect expensive, multi-year and multi-layered lawsuits to follow.
Also expect more cartel influence in this mostly “cash and carry” industry.
The business end requires a lot of overhead, including expensive private security guards, storage facilities, surveillance equipment, secure transport and crop protection—all of which makes the black market product cheaper.
According to commentator Sean Williams:
“In Oregon, the state with the cheapest legal marijuana on a per-ounce basis in the nation, legal marijuana is still priced at a substantial premium to black market marijuana. In Minnesota, the high costs of legal medical marijuana have caused some qualifying patients to ditch their monthly trip to the pharmacy in favor of buying the drug illegally.”
Which leads to the biggest threat—a growing organized crime problem, especially in Colorado where legalization of marijuana has already attracted cartels from Mexico, South America and Europe.
So, the answer to the question, which mouse is smarter? Who avoided the trap?
The County Mouse that voted “NO” and will probably slow walk, if not actually ban, any permits for dispensaries or land use for cultivation—plus, likely rescind what currently exists.
Or is the City Mouse smarter—that is, until grappling with the problems of “medical” uses, let alone legalization for private use? The “Buy Safe. Stay Legal” slogan has hardly proved an effective deterrent.
Then ask yourself, do you need or want additional pot dispensaries, farms or labs in your already deteriorating neighborhood when existing medically sanctioned outlets already exist?
So, back to Aesop’s Country Mouse who wisely remarked:
“Goodbye. You do, indeed, live in a plentiful city, but I am going home where I can enjoy my dinner in peace.”
Vote “No” on the grand promises of Proposition 64.
And bravo to the County Board of Supervisors for recognizing the dangers ahead and avoiding the mousetrap about to ensnare the City Council.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.