Bouquets and brickbats

We applaud SLO City Council's sane approach to medical marijuana

letters@thetribunenews.comMay 8, 2014 

SLO City Council members Dan Carpenter, Kathy Smith and Mayor Jan Marx survey overflow crowd gathered to testify about proposed restrictions on medical marijuana.


We toss the SLO City Council a clear-headed bouquet for its enlightened stance on medical marijuana. On Tuesday, the council declined to approve additional restrictions on the growing and distribution of medicinal pot, and instead sent the issue back to staff for more study.

The proposed restrictions - which included a ban on all outdoor cultivation and on mobile dispensaries - were an overreaction to a single egregious case, in which 12 mature plants grown outdoors created such a noxious odor that a day care center had to temporarily close. (By the way, even that case seems to have been resolved, as the residents no longer grow marijuana outdoors.)

It's true that many other jurisdictions across California have outlawed outdoor cultivation; the city of Fresno bans all cultivation of medical marijuana - inside or out. We salute the SLO City Council for having the courage to buck that trend.

We aren't against regulations that help prevent medical marijuana cultivation from becoming a danger and a nuisance. For example, we would support placing a stricter limit on the total number of outdoor plants per household. But any solution must respect the wishes of California voters, who approved the Compassionate Use Act, as well as those patients whose pain and suffering is eased by medical marijuana.

Why now, counselor?

Paul Phillips, who is running as a write-in candidate in the district attorney's race, comes across as a thoughtful, well-spoken, experienced trial lawyer. As a defense attorney, he provides voters a choice, since the other two candidates are both prosecutors.

But why-oh-why did you wait so long, counselor? The campaign is in its final weeks, several forums have been held, endorsements bestowed and vote-by-mail ballots delivered. At this late stage, the most Phillips can accomplish is to draw enough votes away from the other two to deny either candidate a clear majority and force a runoff in November. Frankly, this campaign - one of most divisive we've seen in a long time - has already gone on long enough. If it drags on five more months, it's likely to reach a whole new level of nasty.

Paul Phillips may have been a viable candidate at one point, but in this case, better late than never doesn't apply. Phillips' bad timing earns him a delay-of-game brickbat.

Bouquets for the "Bigs"

Congratulatory bouquets to two amazing volunteers, Sarah Levanway and Bryan Gingg, who have been named California's Big Brother and Big Sister of the year.

Having even one recipient from SLO County would be an honor, but two? That's a testament not only to the volunteers, but also to the leadership of an outstanding organization.

Here's how it works: Big Brothers/Big Sisters pairs adult mentors with kids 6 through 18, many of whom are being raised in single-parent households. (There also is a program that pairs high school students with kids.)

As Tribune reporter Sarah Linn wrote in her moving Sunday story, Levanway is a sign language interpreter, and mentors a student who is deaf. She also facilitates communication between the teen and her Spanish-speaking mother, who doesn't know sign language or English. Gingg, who is paralyzed from the neck down due to an auto accident, first mentored a paraplegic boy and was then matched with a teenager whose mother had died and father was deported, which left him in the care of a 19-year-old sister.

Sarah's and Bryan's "Littles," Mayra Rios and Javier Valencia, will be heading off to college soon. That's wonderful news - and reason to order another round of bouquets for Mayra, Javier and all the "Littles" in the Class of 2014.


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