Vargas: Use of Marijuana Initiative is a misguided idea that should go up in smoke


I guess with all the serious social problems facing California today there is one issue that is getting more attention and funding than just about any other. I’m talking about an issue that supersedes homelessness, mental health or even gang violence.

Thanks to billionaires George Soros and Sean Parker, it looks like the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Initiative is probably going to be on the ballot for November.

Is it just me, or does anyone else have a problem when someone can buy a state proposition? It seems contrary to the “citizen initiative” concept when someone buys a slick signature campaign and marketing strategy then calls it a citizen-driven effort.

As a former police officer, narcotics investigator and someone whose family was torn apart by drug abuse, I’m not too keen on adding to the means by which people can get intoxicated.

There are some real common-sense concerns I don’t think most people are thinking about when discussing the issue:

Making marijuana legal will decrease the number of young people who experiment and use drugs and alcohol. Not!

Minors are very creative at finding ways to get access to alcohol and drugs. Legalized marijuana will only make it easier. Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012. The state now is seeing double-digit increases in the number of high school students using marijuana.

Most of us have figured out that frequent marijuana use decreases IQ points, ambition, motivation and drive. The stereotypes often portrayed have some basis in fact.

Imagine a generation of Jeff Spicolis.

Legalized marijuana will decrease the number of impaired drivers on the road. Not!

Running out for fast food and snacks after getting high is part of the experience. One very credible study says 50 percent of adults admitted to driving within three hours of getting high.

AAA found the number of fatal accidents involving drivers with marijuana in their system more than doubled in 2014.

That means people died because someone thought driving while high was OK.

Legalized marijuana will make for better families and decreased substance abuse issues. Not!

I’ve spent a lot of time with families struggling with drug abuse, alcoholism and other addictions. Usually these cases involved family disturbances where the cops had been called. Seems there always are kids around when this happens.

Marijuana is addictive. About 30 percent of the people who use marijuana do suffer from what is described as “marijuana use disorder.” There is always far-reaching family and social issues whenever addictive behavior is involved.

As a society, we still don’t have a handle on alcohol abuse, illegal drug abuse and prescription drug abuse. So what the heck, let’s just add something else to a mix we aren’t prepared to deal with.

Legalized marijuana will reduce crime. Not!

Just look at the headlines and you will see lots of crime related to robberies of medical marijuana dispensaries:

June 8 in Walnut Park, a clerk opens fire on two armed robbers wearing body armor.

June 15 in Los Angeles, a burglar is shot by a security guard as he attempts to burglarize the dispensary.

June 16 in Detroit, security guards and robbers engage in a hours-long standoff.

June 18 in San Diego, a pot dispensary driver is robbed at gunpoint.

June 20 in Denver, a security guard is shot and killed at a dispensary during a burglary.

The above news items came from just a quick Internet search. I’m sure every day across the country there is serious crime related to legal marijuana sales and distribution.

While homicide rates are soaring across the country, we will all feel just a bit safer knowing marijuana is now legal.

The upside to making marijuana legal is people would be able to get high to their hearts’ content.

I’m sure that’s exactly what Mr. Soros and Mr. Parker are looking forward to. While other societal issues are waiting to be dealt with, a lot of people can just take another hit off their bong.

Did I forget to mention the problem with second-hand smoke?

Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at