Betty Yee to cannabis industry: Grow up and deal with stoned drivers
California Controller Betty Yee, injured in a car crash suspected to have been caused by a driver under the influence…
On July 14th, California State Comptroller, Betty Yee was in a car that was rear-ended by an impaired driver; to date the source of this impairment has not been conclusively identified, however press has noted the driver in question was allegedly under the influence of cannabis.
In a widely-reprinted interview with CALmatters, Yee said pot growers and retailers “grousing” about taxes and regulation need to accept that the legalization of recreational weed carries social obligations, including a need to do something about the increased risk to public safety.
“I want to have the industry step up and be responsible,” she said. “They have an adversarial relationship with law enforcement, so it’s not the easiest conversation to have, but people are getting hurt. So deal with it.” (Source link: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/08/25/state-controller-betty-yee-to-cannabis-industry-grow-up-and-deal-with-stoned-drivers/)
The interview cited above leaves me, and others in the legal cannabis industry, perplexed.
In 2016, Ms. Yee was the keynote speaker at the State of Marijuana conference on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. It was during this presentation that she lauded the positive impact cannabis can have on “California’s 122 Billion dollar a year tourism industry” and referred to the country’s stance as a “wrong-headed drug policy for decades and decades.”
The cannabis industry applauds the open dialogue with elected officials, and we were appreciative of your presence that day.
However, in the recent spate of press following the accident, this quote has come to light, “I want to have the industry step up and be responsible,” she said. “They have an adversarial relationship with law enforcement, so it’s not the easiest conversation to have, but people are getting hurt. So deal with it.”
The core ethos of cannabis is compassion; it is so intertwined that it was the title of California’s Proposition 215: The Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
This is an industry that understands pain, injustice, and fear.
To address the origins of the “adversarial relationship with law enforcement”:
That relationship began well before Prop 215’s adoption, and continues today. As State Comptroller, you are more versed than most on the State’s finances. Asset forfeiture became a means for regional law enforcement to break down doors, seize assets, separate families, and lock people away.
In the interview, the victims of the war on drugs become the ones who are shamed.
The California cannabis industry HAS welcomed dialogue; in March of 2017, the head of the California department of transportation was a speaker at the California Cannabis Industry Association policy summit in Sacramento. California Growers Association’s staff have spent countless hours participating in the California Highway Patrol’s Impaired Driver Task Force.
Proposition 64 provided that government-collected cannabis tax funds go towards public safety — solutions for road safety should be coming from government, the industry has shown good faith in providing feedback.