Have you tried to wade through the California voter information guide yet? Did you weep a little? Me, too.
I discovered a reprieve from that sea of legalese: ballotpedia.org. This nifty nonpartisan little website aims for complete objectivity on local, state and federal elections. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the Red, Blue or Other team, there’s unbiased information on all the candidates, propositions and measures, wherever you live.
I’m still studying the propositions but my mind’s firmly made up on two: Proposition 57, allowing early release of non-violent prisoners, and Proposition 64, which legalizes non-medical marijuana.
First, Proposition 57.
If you’re thinking about supporting 57, you must read the list of “non-violent” crimes. It’ll curl your hair.
Under Prop 57, the following crimes are considered “non-violent” and eligible for early release:
* Rape by intoxication
* Rape of an unconscious person
* Human trafficking involving sex act with minors
* Drive-by shooting
* Assault with a deadly weapon
* Hostage taking
* Attempting to explode a bomb at a hospital or school
* Domestic violence involving trauma
* Supplying a firearm to a gang member
* Hate crime causing physical injury
* Failing to register as a sex offender
* Discharging a firearm on school grounds
* Lewd acts against a child 14 or 15
* False imprisonment of an elder through violence
If your curls aren’t tight enough yet, go to my Facebook page. On Oct. 27, I posted an op-ed by Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig and Sheriff Ed Prieto that includes the entire list of crimes that will be eligible for early release under Prop 57. The list is so shocking that I recently published the op-ed and exhaustive list of “non-violent” crimes in the Express. It covered two full pages.
Was that a lot of ink to dedicate to one item in a publication that’s very cramped for editorial space? Oh, hell yes. But it’s that important. People need to understand what they’re endorsing to be released back into their communities.
Now, I may be of the liberal persuasion, but not when it comes to crime. “Do the crime, do the time” works for me. Those who harm others — particularly children, women and the elderly — belong behind bars, for as long as we can keep them there.
Sure, we have a prison overcrowding issue in California. Here’s a better way to alleviate that problem: Proposition 64. Legalize marijuana and commute all sentences for possession or use, and that will free up some cell space the ones who really belong there.
Proposition 64’s virtues are many:
* Law enforcement will have more time to focus on crimes that actually harm people.
* Marijuana would have labels that certify where it’s grown, if it’s pesticide-free or organic, and the actual strength of the THC/CBD content.
* People can decide for themselves whether they want to use marijuana for everything from simple relaxation to alleviating severe pain and discomfort while undergoing chemotherapy or treatment for AIDS, and everything in between. If you object to with people using substances to relax, then you’d better outlaw all alcohol, and here’s the short story about how well that works: Prohibition.
Those who are all wrapped around the axle about the harmfulness of marijuana need to google a little harder. According to the Center for Disease Control, know how many marijuana overdoses are on record? One.
Compare that to the number who die of alcohol poisoning annually: 2,200.
So, let’s temper our anti-marijuana self-righteousness with actual facts.
Like this one: The CDC states that 610,000 Americans die from heart disease annually. One in every four deaths in the U.S. is due to heart disease, the Number One killer of Americans annually. Number two is cancer. Of that number, according to the American Lung Association, lung cancer claims 158,040 American lives each year. Also on the CDC mortality list is diabetes, with 76,488 deaths annually.
As for heart disease and diabetes, obesity is a major factor, and a major factor in obesity is sugar. Pound for pound (ha!), sugar is inarguably far deadlier than marijuana. And yet we don’t even blink about shoveling it to our kids, nor do we fret about putting health warning labels on candy or soft drinks, and all the foods that are laced with high-fructose corn syrup. (Read the labels: it’s in damn near everything.) We don’t fret about keeping sugar away from children and, in fact, put it right into their pudgy little hands every Halloween.
But here are the hard facts, people: Your child is hundreds of thousands of times more likely to die from sugar-related diseases than marijuana overdose. These are the facts, and you can scream and argue all you want, but math doesn’t lie and it’s also not concerned with your erroneous beliefs. Want to keep your kids safe? I’d worry more about keeping the Twinkies and sugary soda out of their hands than pot.
As for lung cancer, there’s one main cause for that: tobacco. Tobacco kills. Period. It’s grotesquely ironic that companies are allowed to peddle a product that has zero health benefits and is directly, irrefutably, linked to human mortality. If tobacco is legal, it’s ludicrous that marijuana (which has proven health and medical benefits) is not. Moronically illogical, in fact. On that note, Yes on Proposition 56 too. The more painful we can make it to purchase tobacco, the better.
There you have it: Legalize marijuana (Yes on 64), kick Big Tobacco in the shins (Yes on 56) and keep criminals who harm others behind bars (No on 57). It’s just a pity that the biggest criminals of all — the corporations that harm and kill hundreds of thousands of people every year with their deadly products — can’t be held just as accountable as your average garden-variety pot smoker.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com