Unless you’re an anti-pot obsessive like U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, you accept the scientific consensus that marijuana is not a gateway to more dangerous drugs and is no more potentially harmful than liquor and tobacco.
More important, it’s foolish that we’ve gone for so long without regulating and taxing what is clearly a popular and commonly used product among many adults.
The legal market for pot in California is estimated at about $5 billion. Many users will continue buying black-market weed at first to avoid the 15% tax on its retail value, according to a study by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.
But they’ll gradually come around as the regulated market becomes more common and convenient, bringing state and local governments an estimated $1 billion in tax revenue and creating more than 1,200 jobs.
State officials project that legal recreational marijuana soon will make up 61.5% of the overall market, while nearly a third of users will continue buying pot illegally and 9% will purchase medical marijuana.
The basic rule of thumb is that you can now smoke recreational pot anywhere you can smoke a cigarette, which means forget about copping a cannabis buzz at indoor workplaces, restaurants, bars, theaters and most public places. Also, no imbibing within 1,000 feet of a school, day-care center or youth center while kids are present.
It’s still illegal to drive while high or to have an open bag of pot in the car. Under the new law, you can’t smoke pot or munch marijuana edibles while driving or riding in a vehicle, punishable by a $70 fine.
The new law also is intended to level the playing field for women, who are paid on average 80 cents for every dollar a guy makes, for no good reason whatsoever.
In fact, a woman working full time in California makes a median income of $43,335, compared with a median of $50,562 for a man, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. In theory, the new law will boost the total mean pay of women statewide by almost $79 billion.
When you apply for a job, employers are prohibited from “orally or in writing, personally or through an agent,” asking about your present or previous pay.
However, if you provide such info “voluntarily and without prompting,” the employer can legally use it “in determining the salary for that applicant.”
This is obviously some much-needed assistance for about 5 million low-income earners in a state with some of the highest housing costs in the nation. But the broader economic ramifications remain to be seen.
The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office says that “when the minimum wage goes up, workers’ wages increase, but employers’ costs also increase — giving them an incentive to hire fewer workers. As a result, basic economic models predict that minimum wages reduce employment.”
But researchers at UC Berkeley found that a higher minimum wage also can have a positive influ-ence on the economy. They predict that a bigger paycheck will improve workers’ productivity and increase their purchasing power, thus boosting the fortunes of other businesses.
File this under “wait and see.”
“This is a great victory for working parents and children in California,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), author of the new law. “With more women in the workforce, and more parents struggling to balance work and family responsibilities, our policies must catch up to the realities of our economy and the daily lives of working families.”
The California Chamber of Commerce, that champion of family values, calls the new law a “job killer.”
This law has its roots in reports of people thinking they were buying pricey pedigreed pets and discovering after the fact they were in fact on rent-to-own plans, and running up hefty financing charges in the process.
And if payments went unmade for too long, your pooch might get a visit from the repo man.
If you’re desperate for a fancy animal, at least use a credit card. That’ll grant you immediate ownership.
Better still, adopt a dog or cat from your local shelter. That’s what I did, and it’s one of the smartest (and most loving) deals I ever made.