Burnout The Vote: Residents Offered Free Pot To Cast Ballots

Eagle Rock, CA — Anonymous fliers were distributed in this northeastern Los Angeles middle-class community offering $40 of medical marijuana to anyone who showed up at the polls in neighborhood council elections last Saturday.

About 800 residents voted in the Eagle Rock election, a ten-fold increase over last year, which raised eyebrows.

The fliers touted the Progress and Collaboration slate of candidates, who ran against the incumbent neighborhood council’s opposition to pot dispensaries. Only two of the eight pro-pot Progress candidates managed to win, however, so evidently the election results weren’t “baked.”

The future of existing pot dispensaries in Eagle Rock is apparently going to the voters next March. The neighborhood council had enacted an ordinance (that was due to go into effect last month) banning medical marijuana storefronts but opponents gathered enough signatures to put to a vote.

According to the CBS Los Angeles affiliate, the L.A. city councilman who represents Eagle Rock “believes the record voter turnout had nothing to do with the pot giveaway and was instead motivated by residents trying to take control of their community.” He is nonetheless asking authorities to look into the matter.

Eagle Rock only makes a minimal eligibility check to determine if a voter actually lives in the community. California has no photo ID law either.

Historically, around the country it’s not unheard of for for the big city political machines to offer certain inducements to get people to vote. Precinct bosses have over the years offered booze, cigarettes, and food, but marijuana may be new wrinkle. So-called walking around money is some precincts is also part of the turn-out-the-vote effort.

California’s medical marijuana law may or may not have been put forward with the best of intentions. That being said, according to the Huffington Post, California residents in some communities — perhaps like Eagle Rock — may be experiencing buyers remorse after approving medical marijuana in 1996 in part because pot shops have become “a magnet for crime, nuisance, and addiction.”

“Fast forward 16 years and most Californians know that ‘medical’ marijuana has become a sad joke. Scantily clad ‘caregivers’ and a few unscrupulous ‘on-call’ doctors line beaches and boulevards promoting marijuana use for everything from back pain to headaches …Homicides, increased youth drug use, property and neighborhood crime and advertising to kids have all become a part of doing business. Today’s dispensaries — really pot shops selling the drug under the guise of medicine — bear little resemblance to voters’ intent.”

In the meantime, possession or sale of pot for any reason is illegal under federal law, and as such, there is ongoing conflict between federal prosecutors and the state of California.

Watch a report from the CBS affiliate about the suspicious free pot fliers “passed out” in Eagle Rock, Cal.:

Do you think opponents or proponents of medical marijuana are taking the “high” road in this controversy? More seriously, do you believe that medical marijuana laws are being abused?