Less is more

I went to the Butte County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on medical cannabis and joined maybe a hundred people queued up alongside the Elks Lodge building and on into the parking lot. We were mostly working-class people and some tiny-business owners not yet appreciative of the restrictive and punitive roles government plays in their lives.

There were a couple dozen cops blanketing the building, trained with taxes to control us. The crowd was well behaved, although they did individually and collectively express themselves. The chair warned us several times, but people continued to laugh at, hiss at, comment on, and sometimes applaud the speakers at the microphone. Quentin Colgan got an ovation.

Admission stopped eight people ahead of me, and so 12 or 15 of us claimed a space in the little hallway outside the big hall. One of the cops guarding the open doorway repeatedly ordered us to move to one side, clearing a path for the people coming and going. After the first few minutes, when the cop found something else to do, we got to figure out on our own how to let people in and out and still stay close enough to the actual doorway to hear what was going on inside. Our little crowd then parted—as crowds tend to do—and closed up repeatedly and successfully without authoritarian interference. I was there.

As people said their piece and left with their friends, we outliers were let in, even me. Most of the speakers seemed to think people capable of tending ourselves, although one poor woman said she knows we need regulating and maybe massa could go easy on us just this one time please your honor sir. I’m paraphrasing.

A prosecutor from the D.A.’s office tossed around some unsupported stories about the dangers of marijuana, including unattributed traffic accidents and unspecified allegations, as though marijuana caused the accidents and allegations are expressions of truth. I think he was hissed. The D.A. tried the same wheeze at a Chico Council meeting. It worked then, too; politicians eat that stuff up.

My bike taillight was on the fritz, so I left early. The meeting was clearly a put-up job, and the ordinance the board tentatively approved is intrusive and mean-spirited. No surprises there.

Larry Wahl voted against the ghastly ordinance, and I commend him for it while studiously ignoring why he did it. If the other supervisors (this “supervisor” business is nuts—super my ass) have half the self-confidence of Chico Councilman Bob Evans—who actually listened to people who didn’t agree with him and changed his mind on the Cafe Culture question—sense could eventually prevail. Maybe after the next election.