Posts Tagged With: fear

LEGALIZING CANNABIS

After three killings in Calaveras County this year over protecting marijuana patches, the county began to wrestle with the subject of legalizing cannabis. Commercial Growers and individual users who grow their own plants, if my assessment is correct, are following state laws, that conflict somewhat with Federal law. Something clearly needed to be fixed.

I’ve been waylaid on this subject for eight days as my hard drive in my computer began to gasp and die. I attended a meeting July 12th hosted by the Calaveras County Democrats Club. They invited speakers Merita Callaway, Bill McManus and Bob Bowerman to explain the benefits, the inherent problems, and possible solutions involved with legalizing marijuana/or banning it outright.

Former supervisor, Merita Callaway spoke for the Callaway-Stevenot initiative.  The initiative has qualified for the November ballot as Measure D and only deals with growing.

LAND USE:  A grower must have a minimum size of 2 acres. Set back from property lines  is 75 feet. Growing is not permitted in Residential-1 zones. Cultivation cannot exceed 15% of the growing  area. One/half  acre of total canopy is permitted.  Growers can use green house culture or outdoor plantings.

SECURITY: Grow must be secured by a 6 foot fence screening plants from the public. They must submit a security plan. Growers must allow reasonable on-sight inspections; Grower must be fingerprinted and submit to criminal background check. Generators must be operated from an insulated shed for noise compliance.

ENVIRONMENT: Growers using natural waterways must be Permitted by Fish & Wildlife. They must submit a water use plan. Well users will need a well permit and be metered for use. Outdoor light must be shielded by canopy to prevent light pollution and glare. Canopy cover must also shield plants from public view as they rise above fence height, in areas where the public is legally allowed to be. Growers must comply with regulations for use of fertilizers and pesticides and must get a permit through Environmental Health. Growers must comply with storage rules for hazardous materials. The grow site must be inhabited by a permanent resident of the county in a dwelling. (The grower is given a year to provide a permanent dwelling.)

The initiative is carefully constructed, looking to cover any loopholes of definition, plant type, and anything that will affect the quality of life of others.  The initiative also deals with caregiver and personal cultivation uses. It has an appeals process if needed. It discusses fees and enforcement. I am impressed by the 32 page document and the work it represents. I am also concerned with what I see as weak areas.

Number 1: The potential for noise other than a generator is also an issue. Gunfire, barking dogs, and increased traffic on rural roads. Our county Noise Ordinance is very weak and non specific, and in my opinion useless. They do not enforce it unless an inspector, a cop or someone official is there to hear it. They will not accept a tape unless it records noise levels in decibels, and the source is provable.

Number 2: Reasonable inspections does not do it for me. What constitutes reasonable?  More a concern for dispensaries than a grow, but certainly a surprise element, so no cover-up occurs. All inspectors should have access to grower gates for emergency services, like fire.  It should be available for inspection on demand at any time to effectively monitor regulations. I didn’t see, but may have missed whether dogs are used as warning security. It becomes an issue for neighbors. I saw nothing addressing dust. Where cultivation occurs, ATV’s can create enormous amounts of dust that affect neighboring properties and air quality. In general, the document is stricter than state requirements, and I believe that to be a plus. I commend Callaway and Stevenot for their efforts. Changes after the fact are always hard to make.

Speaker Bill McManus is a passionate proponent of banning marijuana grows, and thus, dispensaries,  in the county. His group of locals supporters got enough signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot as well.

McManus maintains that regulations do not work. They’ve been tried and they’ve failed. They are unenforceable. He sites Yuba County allowed legal cannabis, then banned legal outdoor growing after two shootings. Growers tend to protect their crops with deadly force. He says the industry always touts the jobs and money created by cannabis grows. But, the statistics don’t show an increase in taxable income. He also sited a legal grow in the county where a neighbor is afraid to let her children outside. The growers warn the children away asking them not to look in that direction nor go anywhere near the property. She owns the burned out property and can’t afford to move anywhere else. She is scared in her own house.

One question from a ban supporter, a nurse, cited a 17% increase in vehicular accidents since marijuana has been legalized. She also points out there is a test for alcohol, but not for cannabis impairment. A very valid point. She posits that a test can be developed but it won’t cut down on the impaired drivers. They will only increase with legalization. A given and a worry.

Another negative about cannabis use as compared to alcohol. You have too many drinks and from three to  seven hours later, you are sober. With Cannabis a user can remain impaired  for 24 hours.

I spoke with one person who cited the difficulty in Mendocino County. The growers often use Mexican labor, legal or not. They pay in cash or buds. Another huge problem that did not come up at the meeting is that Federal law prevents cannabis growers from having a bank account for their money.The law was made to prevent money laundering for illegal substances.  Growers have gobs of cash. They are vulnerable to criminals and violence. A grow and a dispensary can be a dangerous business in any neighborhood. A partial solution is to form a Union for cannabis employees, with benefits. It would benefit the county and provide a measure of safety.

Bob Bowerman is a member of NORML, which stands for the National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Law. He has visited legal marijuana grows all over the state and in Washington and Colorado. He claims, “I’m a realist. Marijuana is here and it is not going anywhere. I’m for regulating it and getting the illegal growers out.”

We’ve had illegal grows on Public Lands, and in hidden canyons on private lands where an owner may be unaware his land is being used. I remember trying to do the census some years back and the growers command some of the back roads and don’t allow anyone to trespass. It was scary to meet a man with a rifle who ordered me to turn around.

They use booby traps and guns and dogs to protect their grows.  They sell to the drug cartels. The drug cartels very professionally target college campuses and our young adults. Statistics show that 20% of the population uses cannabis.

The state, and other states are legalizing cannabis and it won’t be long before recreational cannabis is legal as well. The push for growing is for  medical benefits, but everyone knows, it is easy to get a medical card and do what you want.

When the county decided to accept grower applications at $5,000 each for a permit, they had no idea they would get, from last count, over 900 applications. They have yet to be sorted. Criminal  background checks have to be done. And, thus far, the $5,000 from applications is slated for enforcement.

One guy in the audience griped, “They want to fingerprint and background check every employee?  That is ridiculous.”

More tomorrow.

 

 

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WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU.

A boat paddle is shown on the bottom of the nearly dry Almaden Reservoir near San JoseThis photo is from Reuters Media.

Right now in Calaveras County, and throughout the state,  people are shocked and concerned about water usage;  their reservoirs are drying up. They are concerned for their future in a globally changed climate with an estimated 10 year drought.  In the worst drought on record, the California Sierra snow pack was at 27 inches. It is now at 2 inches. That is scary.

There is an urge locally to dam up all the water so we can to keep it. But damming doesn’t bring more water.  It is frightening and people are scared. But solutions have to protect people, fish, agriculture and the environment as the river serves many areas over miles of its flow. I wondered if there was a bill in our state to ban fracking?

Several states have banned fracking with good reason. Imagine waking up to find your tap water bursting into flames, or your horses going blind, and cows dropping dead. Admittedly, that is what happened in Arkansas, and is a worse case scenario where the entire town had to be evacuated.

The latest news from a peer-reviewed study by the Colorado School of Public Health and Brown University found an association between the density and proximity of  gas wells within a 10 mile radius of a maternal residence showed a prevalence of congenital heart defects as well as possible links to defects in the brain and spinal cord.

With a 25% mandatory water reduction, I began to wonder about fracking in California? I called Governor Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom our Lt. Governor. No one would or could  give me a direct answer about anything having to do with fracking. Newsom put me in touch with the Water Control Board. Everyone was in meetings. But an aide  put me in touch with The Division of Oral Gas and Geo Thermal. Their public relations person, Don Drysdale could not or would not answer questions directly but he emailed me.

More on this subject tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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RIDING THE HORSE OF FEAR.

Yesterday, I blogged the high cost of gun violence. Making people aware of the hidden costs of guns and their danger can help people realize that something has to be done. I was thinking kids shouldn’t have to be dodging bullets on their way to school in poor neighborhoods. And, shouldn’t it be considered a hate crime when Gabby Gifford was gunned down? And, when young adults shoot down children in schools? Shouldn’t the CIA or the FBI be involved in hate crimes?

I watched Frontline last night for answers and none of those things were discussed. I was right when sometime back I called out the NRA as the new MAFIA.

After Reagan was shot, he didn’t touch on the subject of reigning in the proliferation of guns.

President George H. Bush, when the NRA called federal officers and cops “…jack booted government thugs kicking down doors…” by the NRA’s most successful fear monger, Lobbyist Wayne La Pierre, Bush resigned from the NRA. La Pierre publicly apologized and was chastised by the NRA Board for “backing down”.  And from that point on, he very effectively got his message of fear moving forward and never backed down again.  What is the message?

THE GOVERNMENT WILL TAKE AWAY YOUR GUNS.

Is that what the American people bought into?  Yes.

When Clinton became President, he got gun legislation passed barring the sale of assault weapons, the Brady Bill, requiring identifications and some success toward other regulations. When Gore ran for President, the NRA pressed hard in their home states and won Arkansas and Tennessee to shame them. Their message? Fear.

THE GOVERNMENT WILL TAKE AWAY YOUR GUNS.

During George W. Bush’s terms, the subject never came up.

Now, Obama. After Columbine, he was warned not to buck the NRA. Any attempt would be met with no legislation passed by the Republican house. He shamefully walked away.

But, later, one Democratic senator, a member of the NRA, got movement toward closing the gun show loophole. And the NRA was actually talking compromise. But another gun organization, with 300,000 gun owners warned the NRA that they should never compromise. Always win. The NRA walked away from the table and speared one of their own.  They dropped the ball even though polls show that 91% of Americans believe our gun laws are too lax, and, 80% of NRA member households feel that better gun control is needed.

The assault weapons ban has, in the meantime, expired and was not renewed.

But, by Sandy Hook, Obama could no longer ignore his conscience. He moved fast hoping for some momentum after little 6 and 7 year old kids were gunned down in their school. Five white Republican senators killed that bill.

THE ONLY WAY TO PROTECT KIDS IN SCHOOLS FROM A BAD GUY WITH A GUN IS TO HAVE A LOT OF GOOD GUYS WITH GUNS.

That was La Pierre’s response. And, gun sales rose with fear the government was going to take them away. Get them now before they come after us.

What Frontline investigations showed is that is doesn’t take thousands of people to keep that fear moving. It only takes 100’s of dedicated members to call politicians, show up at meetings, to be outside the senators office, to be passing out NRA publications of fear that promise to defeat anyone who supports even basic gun controls. Then with a fat pocketbook, the NRA spreads that fear on television with well targeted ads.They are trying to get legislation passed to prevent lawsuits against them. “Get the government off our backs.”

They ride the horse of fear for the sake of ultimate power. They brag with pride that they stand up to presidents and control government.

The people whose children were gunned downed, and thousands of other gun violence victims feel betrayed by a government that is hobbled and refuses to protect them.

One woman from the gallery when the vote came up 5 short, shouted YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.

Joe Biden had to quiet her but in his heart he agreed:  “How could they vote down legislation for identifications at gun shows, the gun show loop hole, back ground checks and bans on assault weapons in public?”

And Frontline?  They did not name the five senators. They are as scared as our government.

The future?  All of the new Republican’s sworn in this month are white, Christians. Not exactly a cross-section of American demographics.

 

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TANG DYNASTY TEMPLE OF HELL.

The second phase of our trip to China in October of 2006 began with an early morning flight to the industrial city of Chong Quing.  We walked from the landing (visible in the distance) across this pontoon bridge, settled our luggage aboard and then walked back across the pontoons to visit the Hell Pagoda from the Tang Dynasty.

First we climbed 200 stairs up the side of a mountain. The view of our landing below in the misty rain was exhilarating after our breathless climb. .

As we neared the temple, tortured statues lined the steps.

There was about  30 of them and their meaning was unclear.

Our guide explained that this old Tang Temple is backwards from normal for modern Chinese. Almost like Christianity, you suffer for bad behavior and are re-incarnated to a higher plane for good behavior.  On our bridge to the temple grounds above, one side is for women, the other for men, unusual.

Even the colors here are different, blue and gold instead of the preferred and popular red and gold. The roof is guarded by a dragon, though.

The main pagoda has a wild geese  for the roof  decoration, in remembrance of the hungry monk at the Little Wildgoose Pagoda.   A couple of smaller pagodas had dragons.

Mark Maurur from our group tried balancing the Xing Chen Stone. The bottom stone weighs about 200 pounds, the top stone about 90 pounds. If you are able to balance it, it will cure you of heart problems the legend claims.

Mark  succeeded, but no one else attempted. I guess they weren’t worried about heart problems. The cure legend is unclear. Does it cure heart disease?  Or the misery of lost love?

All of us attempted the balancing ball. A perfectly round ball on a perfectly flat surface. If you can maintain balance for nine seconds, you will have a long life. I guess we are all destined to die young.

In  the Hell Temple, you come across  things that are twisted and not uniform so different from the ying and yang of balance in Chinese culture.

In the temple dungeon was a ghastly parade of fearful statues behind bars, a warning to behave or else. The Tang Dynasty incorporated fear in their religion to elicit good behaviors, as most religions do. Modern Buddhism encourages good deeds while reminding you of your human weaknesses, rather than fear of punishment, if I understand it correctly.

On the way back down the hill, I was tempted to give this young child a pat.  It was the only friendly looking statue in the bunch.

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SURVIVAL

I’ve always had a survivalist mentality. I think it stems from being raised on the land, with few amenities, and dependence on what you grew or raised to live. Subconscious fear may have played a role as well since we were put through air raid drills in grammar school. We were  instructed to hide our heads under our desk when the air raid siren went off during the Korean war. Of course, we now know hiding our heads under our desk  wouldn’t have protected us. The powers that be probably knew it then, too. It was just feel good stuff.

During the 1970’s, people were building bomb shelters in their yards for fear of a nuclear bomb from Russia.  We didn’t build a bomb shelter in our front yard during the 1970’s, but, I have to admit, we pondered the idea.  We read in the newspapers the way to survive nuclear fallout from a bomb was to fill your tub with water, stay inside, put foam rubber over the windows and doors, and buy a lot of flashlights and sterno. We were instructed to stock up on basic foods like rice and beans, but only canned goods. We took it seriously, and did stock up, except you couldn’t buy a flashlight or a battery within a day of the announcement.

Again, fear is in the air. Bomb shelter sales are up 1,000 %. Membership in  giant communal bomb shelters on the plains states, like Kansas, are selling like hot cakes, and many of them aren’t even built yet.( I read HOAX.)
Health food stores and pharmacies have run out of iodine as people stock up on the stuff even though “experts” say it isn’t needed. But then, various “experts” have lied to us so many times in the past, and we know many expert’s opinions are for sale to the highest dollar. Why would we believe them? Oh, I’m so cynical. Yes!

Germany has decided to wean itself off nuclear power. But, it won’t help unless  all countries do it. Nuclear Power is like playing with extremely, costly, destructive dynamite. But, there is no warning or protection from fallout  if you live anywhere near one, except to get farther away.  If a huge comet or asteroid hit the earth, with  hundreds of nuclear power plants in the United States and a couple thousand of them around the world? Oh, boy!  There is no protective measures anyone, governments or communities or individuals can take against a cataclysmic event that sets up nuclear winter.

Wars all over the mid-east have religious fanatics predicting that Armageddon is at hand and they are giving a precise date in May. I’ve lived through these predictions before as well. I don’t remember the year when a large group of people sold their worldly goods and waited on a mountain top to be brought up into heaven at the given date of the end of the earth. How do these people reconcile their lives after it doesn’t happen? And, that, or a similar event has been repeated several times in my lifetime.

Fear is understandable. We live in troubled times. But, there are practical things one can do to keep yourself comfortable and relatively safe. First is to just enjoy each day, and do what you normally do. Live one day at a time. You can’t do anything about it anyway. Its like taking an airplane flight. It could drop in the ocean, but you still take the flight.

Practical measures you should always take: Keep a decent stock of  staple goods on hand. Always, flashlights, batteries, candles, and simple medical supplies like aspirin, band aids,bandages, burn and antibiotic salves. Its easy enough to  keep a  couple gallons of distilled water in your garage for emergency use. A couple five gallon cans of gasoline might be helpful if you can safely store them. In your car? Keep a first aid kit, a couple blankets, flashlights and water, an umbrella, extra socks and lightweight jackets, a couple flares, matches, rope and a tarp. It sounds like a lot, but it can be packed tightly into a backpack and jammed into the corner of your trunk. This isn’t to protect against a nuclear event, but any event that leaves you stranded, be it a storm, a road closure, or a flat tire on a lonely road. Then, hope for the best.
When you have a  chance, read George Stewart’s novel, Earth Abides. It will give you a blueprint on how to survive anything. Its out of print, but available in those old book stores that deal in out-of-print novels. And, its based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its an eye opener even though it was written in 1931.

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