Residents, guests debate online the legalization of recreational cannabis

It is unclear how many participants in unscientific survey are registered to vote

medical marijuana concept

A small majority of participants in an unscientific social media poll appears to favor a proposed ballot measure that would allow the sale of adult recreational cannabis in Avalon. Since the debate occurred online, it was unclear how many of the participants were Avalon residents or how many of the Avalon residents are registered to vote. 

Last week, the Catalina Islander posted a question on Facebook page, asking “on the record and for possible publication in the print edition of the Islander, what do you think about a proposed ballot measure to allow the sale of recreational cannabis (marijuana) in Avalon? Mayor Anni Marshall is proposing the idea as a way to raise revenue for the city. Although state law allows adult use of cannabis, the city code is currently limited to one license for a delivery-only medical cannabis business, which has not yet opened.”

The proposal is expected to be discussed at an upcoming City Council meeting. The deadline to put any measure on the March 2020 ballot comes near the end of October.

In all, 64 comments were posted, apparently representing the views of 42 individuals. Sixteen of the comments were clearly in opposition to the proposal. The Islander’s question received 22 “likes,” five “sad” emojis and six “angry” emojis. 

The comments that are directly quoted below have been lightly edited for spelling and punctuation. Some comments have been paraphrased. All ellipsis marks ( … ) found in direct quotations were written by the person being quoted. Space limitations in the print edition do not allow everyone to be quoted. 

Michelle Mendoza wrote, “I am a visitor there, and I love the peaceful atmosphere … I doubt I would even have a vote either way … but if I did, I wouldn’t change how things are now … tourists wouldn’t go to Catalina to get their CBD or other marijuana products, it would be very expensive … they would get from their local shops … 

“As for people living on the island, how relaxed do you need to be?” 

Jennifer Diaz wrote, “Hands down we need more money. The school and housing situation should make that clear.  Colorado’s benefits from it are amazing!!!”

Jack Bonni Antrim wrote, “As a Health Care Professional, I am opposed except for medical necessity, and with a Physicians’ Rx [prescription].”

In reply to Antrim’s comment, Carl Johnson wrote, “What do you think about people purchasing ‘adult-use’ and claiming ‘medical’ purposes?”

Johnson referred to news reports about a study that indicated recreational cannabis users also use cannabis for medical reasons.

Keith Allen, who identified himself as a former resident and frequent visitor, wrote, “I smell the telltale odor of burning marijuana whenever I’m on the island and if a delivery business is already approved then the only real difference is a possible storefront which could supply tourists if they know how to find it. Seems to me alcohol has always been a bigger problem. Never seen anyone stoned and angry. But drunk and angry is very common.”

Mark Hottendorf wrote, “This question was posed as a possible ballot measure, I find it funny that most of the people who are commenting live elsewhere than Avalon and are probably not registered voters. As part of California, shouldn’t Avalon residents have the same access as the rest of California? I personally don’t use it, but I am in favor of residents who choose to use it. Just like alcohol it is not for everyone. As a registered voter of Avalon, I would vote YES.”

David Simmons wrote, “Visitors don’t need the ability to purchase recreational marijuana. Residents on the other hand should have the ability for both medical and recreational cannabis.” Later, Simmons wrote, “I view it the same as alcohol, but honestly I think Catalina will be fine without it. I love the island just the way it is.”

Carl Johnson wrote, “Why adult-use? Because of reduction in teen use, because of tax revenue, because of the reduction in other drug/opioid deaths, because of the barriers with medical only, because it is a California right, because it is the clear [and] safe option … The proof is there.”

An individual identified as Christine Ws wrote, “Absolutely in favor. It’s already here everywhere so the city should benefit from revenue. It’s a natural plant and benefits people in pain or with chronic illness. It’s a peaceful drug.”

Renee Joyce Weber wrote, “Revenue would be good but too many people using pot and not for medical reasons like cancer, etc., even I don’t use it no matter how uncomfortable I have been through my treatments. Sorry, I guess I am old fashioned. no drugs for me.”

Eric Rogers wrote, “Horrible, horrible idea. Definitely not the way to keep things nice around here.”

Dennis Holt wrote, “Just what you need more money and from drugs! Are our citizens of such low value to allow this to happen? So kids won’t be allowed to get it, just like they can’t get beer.”

George Morgan wrote, “Better prohibit alcohol too then. Then see where your tax base goes.”

Keith Allen wrote, “Taxes on it in this small community won’t make a difference any so the dollars shouldn’t matter.

Michael Barton wrote, “If it’s legal and we all know under marijuana people act more responsible than people on alcohol and as long as it’s not in front of children, I don’t see the problem for each man or woman has the right to choose for themselves. That’s are rights as California Americans !!”

Jo Jo Moore wrote, “It’s always about the money not what’s best. Good luck.

Chad Holzer argued that marijuana needs to be regulated like cigarettes and taxed.

Mike Raymond wrote, “You’re giving into GREED.”

Valeria Schafer wrote, “No.”

Chuck Patten “Aren’t Avalon’s existing problems [with] intoxication significant enough to dissuade you?”

There was also a brief exchange over the legal question of shipping marijuana to an Island surrounded by Federal waters. 

Email your opinions on this issue to editor@thecatalinaislander.org.

Residents, guests debate online the legalization of recreational cannabis