It’s coming … one of the most important days of the year for us
Isla Vistans is rapidly approaching, and no, I’m not talking about
our most revered and renowned Halloween
. Actually, I’m talking about Election
. With less than a month to go until the November 7
election, it’s time to start thinking about the politicians,
propositions, and proposals we’ll be asked to say yay or nay to in
early November.

This year, there are a ton of issues on the ballot that will
directly affect those of us residing in I.V. And even though many
of us will only be here for four or five years, the decisions we
make at the polling places—one of which will be conveniently
located at the University Religious Center on Camino
Pescadero—could affect future generations of Isla Vistans for years
to come. With that in mind, this is the first of a few columns I
plan on devoting to decoding the ballot issues and, specifically,
discussing how some of the standout issues could affect I.V. Don’t
worry, I promise to take a break for some hot
Halloween-related article action
next week, but in the
meantime, let’s explore some election issues with an eye on Isla

A quick glance at the incredibly informative voter education Web
site,, makes it clear that there are enough
local and statewide issues on the ballot to provide plenty of stuff
for you to Google while
procrastinating on your latest paper-writing assignment. While all
of these issues are important, there are a specific few that will
definitely have an impact on I.V. and its residents. For this
column, I’d like to focus on the hotly debated Measure P. Lots of stuff has been written in
local papers, including The Independent, about Measure P.
You know the old saying, where there’s smoke there’s fire? Well, where
there’s a ballot issue about smoking, people often get fired up,
and Measure P is no exception. Essentially, Measure P is an
initiative that would make pot possession the lowest priority for
the City of Santa Barbara’s law enforcement officials. That means
the personal possession and use of marijuana by adults would be
considered only a minor offense, so joint-smoking would be the
legal equivalent of jaywalking, at least within the city limits of
Santa Barbara—which doesn’t actually include I.V. That means that,
unless you’re registered to vote as a Santa Barbara resident, you
don’t get to weigh in on the weed measure.


However, if you are a registered S.B. voter, you’ll get to get
in on the session, so to speak, if you vote in the November 7
election. Here are some things to keep in mind about Measure P.
According to the official—and obviously not entirely objective—Web
site of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana
, 1,429 people were imprisoned in California for marijuana
and hash possession as of December 31, 2005, as opposed to 1,289 in
2004. Now, I looked and looked and could not locate exact
statistics about how many marijuana-related arrests occur in the
City of Santa Barbara each year, but suffice it to say that
according to the annual Clery Report, drug-related
citations on the UCSB campus last year were higher than at UCLA, UC
Davis, and UC Berkeley, so it’s not as though our local community
is immune to the consequences of the war on


So the question remains, should smoking a bowl be grounds for
spending time behind bars or is it a “crime” that deserves to be
decriminalized? At the risk of incriminating myself—let’s hope the
IVFP is too busy prepping for the
“Halloween offensive” to check out this week’s
column—I’ll admit that I have no problem with indulging in a little
recreational reefer madness. In fact, I personally
think that pot is a lot less harmful to the mind, body, and soul
than alcohol, tobacco, or watching bad reality
—all of which are not only legally sanctioned in this
country, but socially sanctioned as well. Since the city profile of
Santa Barbara at reports that the FBI says the City of Santa
Barbara was home to 562 violent crimes in 2003, I definitely think
there are other things the SBPD could be focusing their time,
energy, and funding on. Personally, I find it a lot more abrasive
to be verbally assaulted by mobs of “macho” guys who drank so much
at Sharkeez that they think grabbing my ass is an
acceptable form of courtship than it is to see someone smoking a
spliff. Plus, despite what those anti-drug commercials where
smoking a bowl seems to be an invitation for kids to run under the
wheels of your car would have you think, high people are a lot
funnier—and generally a lot less likely to commit serious
crimes—than drunk people. Who wants to go out and start a fight
when you could sit on your couch with a pint of ice cream and
reruns of That ’70s Show on TV? Not people who are high, I
promise you that. I’m not saying we should make alcohol illegal,
but I am saying that we should put pot in perspective. If beer
bonging isn’t a crime, why should bong rips be? And let’s not even
begin to go into the incredible amount of uses the cannabis plant
itself offers as an environmentally sustainable source of energy,
food, paper, cloth, and more—all of which could be further explored
if more legislation is passed to make growing pot less socially and
legally objectionable. Of course, all of this is my own personal
opinion and I would love to hear some arguments from those who
disagree—that’s why the kind folks at The Independent put
that handy little “Comments” section below all my columns.


But, as far as I’m concerned, the SBPD does a great job of
dealing with crimes in which the criminal is actually victimizing
someone else—rather than their own lungs—and they should continue
to focus their energy and attention on those things rather than
trying to prosecute peaceful pot-heads. With social scenes ranging
from the folks at the Real Life religious group to drunken
debauchery on DP, I.V. is definitely a place where the dominant
attitude is live and let live. Why shouldn’t we extend that idea to
include allowing the City of Santa Barbara’s responsible adults to
toke up in peace?

HEMPFEST IN ISLA VISTA: In related news, the
Eighth Annual Santa Barbara Hemp Festival is
coming to Isla Vista this year, on Saturday, November 4, from noon
to 6 p.m. With performances by S.B. hip-hop outfit The Limbz, Chico’s
mixed genre masters Pyrx, and reggae stalwarts Cornerstone
plus guest speakers, a hemp fashion show, hemp product vendors, and
information about hemp and medical marijuana, the afternoon is sure
to be smoking. It goes down under the autumn sun in Anisq’oyo’


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.