Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Published News Story: Ban the Weed or Take the Money (Random Lengths, 10/12-25/17)

Link to my latest Random Lengths article, "Ban the Weed or Take the Money," published in the Oct. 12-25, '17 issue:

Text follows, should above link not be functioning:

Ban the Weed or Take the Money:  Prop. 64 Controversy
By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter
Carson is considering its options regarding recent changes to state marijuana law:  ban commercial weed in a city designated “drug-free” since 2008, or take what could be considerable tax revenue.
Proposition 64 passed in 2016, which legalized marijuana for “recreational” adult use starting in January 2018. To reconcile systems for regulation and enforcement, the governor has signed the Medicinal and Adult-use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. The state is responsible for issuing licenses for marijuana businesses.
At the city council meeting on Aug. 1, assistant city attorney Chris Neumeyer explained possible courses of action. “If cities are silent, likely state licenses will allow folks to operate [any licensed marijuana businesses] in that city,” he said. “Cities throughout California are asking, what are we going to do?”
To shed light on that question, Carson recently held two special council meetings, also described as workshops, on Saturday, Sept. 23 and Thursday, Sept. 28, to “consider seeking the community’s input regarding” Proposition 64, according to the agenda.
About 100 people attended the Thursday meeting at the Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald Community Center. Councilmembers Lula Davis-Holmes, Jawane Hilton, Elito Santarina, and Cedric Hicks attended but not mayor Albert Robles.
As explained at the workshops, the new state laws will allow personal adult use of marijuana, and home cultivation up to six plants (enough for one ounce). Cities may ban outdoor cultivation (in public view) and regulate but not ban indoor cultivation (in private homes, perhaps also in businesses, a potential loophole).
All operations must have state licenses but cities may impose additional requirements for local licenses or ban operations except private indoor cultivation. Torrance and Lomita have already banned all commercial activity.
Carson already has a law to tax any allowed marijuana operations. There is a state excise tax on legal marijuana activity, and some of that money can go back to the local level—but only to cities that allow commercial marijuana.
At the workshops several panelists debated such activity. One, Matthew Eaton, a specialist in cannabis compliance, estimated perhaps 18,000 homes in Carson could be growing for personal use under the new law.
Panelists Tyler Strause and Susan Marks advocated for medical marijuana, to scattered applause.
Another panelist, community activist Dianne Thomas, argued in opposition, saying that for people who want medical marijuana, dispensaries are only a ten-minute drive away.
She produced statistics from the Internet showing that three years after Colorado legalized marijuana, there has been a fifty-eight percent increase in arrests of Black and Latino minors, and a majority of marijuana businesses are in communities of color.
She compared banning commercial marijuana to keeping liquor stores out of minority neighborhoods. She received thunderous applause.
Carson residents who commented at the Thursday meeting were divided. Some suggested Carson allow commercial activity for the tax revenue.
Others argued Carson is a “drug-free city,” referring to a council resolution passed in 2008, and minors should be discouraged from drug use.