Archaic Pot Laws

Pete Gardner of Santa Barbara was arrested and jailed without bail last week for cultivating marijuana. He had 85 small plants, a half pound of processed weed, and some equipment. He was also busted in 2007 for cultivation. He was a pot-club grower.

Pete is a good son who regularly helped out his mom and stepdad. He is a former roadie and a guitar player, a kind and gentle man. He’s going to spend his next three years and eight months in prison.

This oft-repeated tale has become a scandalous, thoroughly modern twist on crime and punishment. Medical evidence claims marijuana is a beneficial, safe therapy for millions of patients. Many millions of recreational users have been smoking pot for decades. The only apparent danger from being involved with marijuana manifests itself in the form of search warrants, arrest warrants, felony convictions, and prison sentences.

Since so many choose to ingest marijuana, the pot laws defile community standards. They are based on archaic ideas that have wrongly created a class of criminals. These laws damage innocent Americans, ruin families, and dishonor our moral sense. They are a massive waste of our money.

Our policing communities and criminal justice system are better than this and should refocus resources. The State of California, Santa Barbara County, and communities across America should be served more wisely.

These laws are brutal injustices. They can’t possibly be applied fairly. Prison for pot is a crime.— Cyrus Clarke

• • •

I wrote this letter regarding the marijuana dispensary issue as a response to Assemblymember Pedro Nava’s March/April E-news email. (I still await a response):

I am interested in how many businesses sell alcohol and cigarettes in Santa Barbara, and their proximity to the community, schools, and dependency treatment centers. Has “attention been paid to location” for alcohol and cigarette distribution or availability?

How much domestic violence have people endured at the hand of a drunk? I have, for one, and have little tolerance for drunk people. I have lost family and friends to alcoholism. Yet I hear nothing of trying to take away anyone’s liquor, which has been proven to cause much more trouble than marijuana, on so many levels.

Marijuana was a godsend to my brother, whom I lost to the AIDS virus. It gave him and others like him the ability to eat and hold food down. Many people in chronic pain, who have multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc., have benefited from this weed.

Others use marijuana for relaxation, recreation. Just like alcoholic cocktails. Yet over my 50 years, none of my friends who smoke marijuana on a regular basis have ever been abusive or out of control.

I think it might be appropriate to regulate the number of alcohol dispensaries per square mile, or whatever formulae were used to decide how many marijuana dispensaries are allowed in Santa Barbara.

The whole anti-dispensary conversation sounds very hypocritical: Marijuana getting the bad reputation, but cheers to that after-work cocktail! In this day and age, with all of the science at our disposal! — Jane Copelan

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Dyer Returns as Interim Fire Chief

When Eric Peterson steps down, Mike Dyer will fill in for County Fire.

Santa Barbara Bodybuilder Wins Mr. Olympia Competition

At 43, Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden ties for the oldest champ in the contest's history.

Renovated Cabrillo Ball Park Now Open

The park got new exercise equipment, multi-use grass turf areas, and an upgraded softball field.

UCSB Researcher Charged with Molesting Child on Campus

Dr. Hongjun Zhou was arrested September 6.

Teen Serial Robber Caught and Confesses

The suspect was identified through an anonymous tipster.