Another year, and yet another city in California burning through taxpayer cash in the attempt to quell illegal dispensaries, continuing a multiyear debate rife with opinion and hyperbole.

Or that’s how it appears according to the Fullerton city website. The city council banned dispensaries from the city in 2017, despite Prop 64 passing the year prior, and voting in Ordinance No. 3289 this past November, which legalized a limited number of shops in the city. Unhappy residents expressed their grievances and after reconsideration, the city council withdrew the ordinance this past February.

The city appears to be doubling down on its decision by opening a new position. A part-time staffer to find illegal cannabis shops in the area, issuing citations daily while working 28 hours a week. The program will last for two years and will cost $72,194 over its duration, including the employee salary and equipment.

A gram of cannabis and marijuana-infused fruity pebble and marshmallow edible bars.

One gram of cannabis and marijuana-infused fruity pebble and marshmallow edible bars. Photo credit: Myron Caringal

The marijuana argument needs to end. Fullerton should reinstate Ordinance No. 3289, prioritizing local cannabis businesses and spend money elsewhere.

Legalization already passed. This showed a desire and demand for it within the community and the city council should have been able to defend their decision.

Mayor Pro Temp Nick Dunlap was quoted in the OC Register in late 2020, “How do you think our roads would look if we would have invested the same amount of time and resources over the past four and a half years that have been invested in this initiative?”

Legalization is optimal for Fullerton because prohibition does not work and only provides fuel for the black market that is alive and well in cities in the same way that alcohol prohibition gave way to the mob becoming more powerful and profitable than ever before. Why would it work with a different substance?

Choosing to put something in one’s body is not a crime. There is no victim, and there is no need to enforce these laws.

The inside of a black market&squot; cannabis vendor location in Fullerton. According to their website, Ash2Ash is an "Alternative Medicine Practitioner in Fullerton."

The inside of a black market’ cannabis vendor location in Fullerton. According to their website, Ash2Ash is an “Alternative Medicine Practitioner in Fullerton.” Photo credit: Ash2Ash Cannabis Dispensary

Uninformed or biased residents might frown at the sight of a dispensary and think: “see, it’s so easy to buy” while not realizing that laws never prevented cannabis from entering the community in the first place. They only serve to make them feel better about their opinion while cannabis is still smoked every day in the community. Fullerton appears to be intact despite that.

For those that believe cannabis destroys the community, brings in questionable people, or is too accessible: why? Dispensaries are more secure than one would believe.

Cannabis shops have an age limit and are noticeably more secure than liquor stores. It is arguable that the beer aisle in 7-11 is more accessible to kids over a shop with an armored guard and a locked door that’s on camera.

The current total expenditures of Fullerton.

The current total expenditures of Fullerton. Photo credit: City of Fullerton

Legalization could bring more traffic to the city from people who cannot buy in their own town, but that doesn’t account for residents of Fullerton. There is a demand for it in the city. People assume cannabis smokers are freeloaders when they are mostly just folks who prefer to burn a joint after work or before bed.

There are better things to focus on in Fullerton, and personal habits like smoking cannabis shouldn’t be on that list. Drunk driving, in comparison, is a habitual problem that resulted in a record number of DUIs statewide last summer and liquor stores are deemed safe enough for our communities anyways.

Fullerton should reinstate Ordinance 3289 and move forward with legalization, instead of continuing to spend money on something that is less of a problem than alcohol.

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