Connecting the Dots ~ Fred Allebach

Fred Allebach Fred Allebach is a member of the City of Sonoma’s Community Services and Environmental Commission, and an Advisory Committee member of the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency. Fred is maintenance chair of the Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards and an active member of the Sonoma Valley Housing Group and Transition Sonoma Valley. As well, Fred has a KSVY radio show on Sunday nights at 8:PM, participates in the Sonoma Valley Action Coalition for immigration issues, and with the Sonoma Climate Coalition.


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Pot paranoia inconsistencies

Posted on October 5, 2017 by Fred Allebach

A town and region whose economy is based on the permissive quest of respectively dressed up alcohol intoxication and general Dionysian hedonism does not have much consistent basis to limit marijuana. The example of the adults here is that it is perfectly fine, and even desirable “to get a heat on”, and in fact, about every picture advertising Sonoma County someone has a wine glass in their hand, and the city’s website link says: “Finest grape-growing, wine travel destination.” Sonoma has recently been rated as the #8 top drinking destination in the US.

Don’t forget craft beer, cider and artisan hard liquor. Getting wasted is legitimate here.

The Plaza is zoo on weekend and fiesta nights, which is now about all the time. Alcohol pots can’t call marijuana kettles black. This is why California is heading to full legalization. That train has already left the station. So, if it is legal why try to keep it out of town? Town is already full of legally sanctified intoxication outlets. Call them what you will. There’s no real difference.

There is a major alcohol public health problem existing here already. This is known, and ignored, because the economy is dependent on it. This impacts teens, and until the city et al can come to grips with this paradox, pot and its derivatives will be able to sail right in on the coattails of wine. Those who try limit pot without addressing alcohol public health issues will be revealed as complete hypocrites.

Cigarette smoking and selling is limited by the city. Rationales for public health do seem to resonate somewhat, but not to the extent that they would touch Sonoma’s prime value: money; money made by profiting off people’s weakness in front of intoxicants.

Now, if the standard-fare mitigations that suffice for wine and booze were applied to pot, would that be enough? For example, labels saying not to smoke too much, sting operations to bust those who sell to underage buyers, laws that regulate the level of blood intoxication for driving. Probably not. Why? Because booze and drugs make a person feel great and people like an easy path to happiness, and when there is money to be made, and people have the freedom to debauch as much as they want, to have as many guns as they want, who can put limits?

No limits on wine tourism, no weighing of the costs there. Those who profess to see limits as un-American need to get their houses in order to include pot in their rationalization.

This is the paradox of right wingers, they want no limits on what they see as OK, but are fine to find a way to limit others for what they see as not OK, for example: women’s rights, pot, LGBTQ, greenhouse gas sustainability etc. Limits are “regulations” which inhibit freedom and liberty. Why not apply the same thinking to pot?

Pot i.e. “cannabis” is now coming on with a medical aspect, but that’s clearly a Trojan Horse. Wine in moderation has health benefits too. Who calls wine “medicine”? Give me a break. Bottom line, people use these things to alter their consciousness and bodily states, and many are susceptible to escalation of use. Is not booze a “gateway” to doing other intoxicants and to dumb and worse behavior that is a scourge on college campuses and Silicon Valley workplaces? Yes, especially after the onion has been peeled and the inhibitions are down.

At the end of the day booze is legal because government and blue nose advocates could not stop people from drinking in Prohibition. The human urge to get fcuked up was too strong. Those alkaloid pleasure centers have a powerful siren song. The same can be said for pot. It has not been able to be stopped, might as well legalize it and not try to hold back the tide. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a right and an enshrined value, and if a person wants to throw their life down the drain by endless pursuit of getting messed up, who can stop them? Why limit that when other destructive and socially costly indulgences are defended?

With legalization, one prime benefit will be too free the millions of young black males in prison for stupid little marijuana possession charges. Possession of a drug everybody is doing anyway. Time to wake up and smell the reefer, or wake and bake, as they say. One benefit, high people tend to lay down the fight, so maybe all the partisan conflict will cool down after people are all stoned… This would be a perfect strategy for Republicans to further game the system, let those liberals all get high, then they won’t even show up to fight back.

If society cannot get it together to limit greenhouse gas emissions, or to do any number of clearly beneficial social programs like the ACA, the only reason I see to go after pot is to try and create some type of 1950s Leave It To Beaver white guy utopia. That is not everyone’s USA.  For those who want the freedom to buy a cheap gallon of vodka at CVS for $8.00 on sale, or to puff some weed and feel a sense of euphoria, well, to stop them you’ll need to change human nature and the founding myths of the country.

Bottom line: those who want limits see that they are working for a public benefit. The only problem is that in a country that has mythologically sanctified individual prerogative, there will always be major pushback to any limits, even if the program makes public health and policy sense. Welcome to the USA, where the freedom to be dumb and knuckle-headed will be our final undoing.

The impulse to limit always zeros in on behaviors that stem from what are known as the appetites, or the deadly sins etc. This is universal human nature to the extent that all are vulnerable to greed, gluttony, sloth, avarice, pride, envy, wrath, and lust. The particular flavor of a society merely represents which appetite group has managed to gain power and control. In the US, and Sonoma, greed, avarice, and gluttony rule, and lust for intoxication is a medicine to take off the edge.

You can see the pattern, imbibe in the evening, and in the day purge it all out with a big exercise regime and/or a bunch of vitamins, then the faults have been mitigated, conscience clear for another go at it the next evening.

I suggest the city council also address universal human problems with greed, by funding a movie on that topic at the Sebastiani theater. Maybe a Naomi Klein flick. That way we can all begin to understand what motivates Plaza landlords to charge such high rents, as we numb ourselves down by sipping a glass of wine and take a one-hitter to take the edge off and feel just right.

I really think the council is right to step up with proactive public policy education. This impulse should be more consistently applied for salient topics like why or why not to limit tourism, why or why not to shoot for sustainability and to limit transportation greenhouse gases, why or why not to limit Farmer’s Market vendors to “local” or not, why affordable housing is or is not necessary  etc. etc. Let’s have a city-sponsored movie series, there wil be no shortage of advocates to say what films shoild be shown.

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