It's fair to call Napa County awash in drugs. The area's economy is based on intoxicants. After all, this is wine country, as an oft-perilous afternoon drive on Highway 29 after the tasting rooms close reveals.
One drug that's hard to come by in Napa, however, is medical marijuana. There are no medical cannabis dispensaries in wine country, despite Napa city putting a law on the books three years ago to allow them. And before a dispensary could open, that law was canned last week by the City Council.
The usual arguments about saving the children -- and a collection of said children in need of salvation -- were trotted out, but in voting to repeal the law 3-2, Napa leaders used a new precedent: fear of a lawsuit filed by the federal government, should they allow a pot club.
That has never happened -- but now, of course, it never will.
Napa followed in the footsteps of other cities, including San Jose, which has at least 100 dispensaries -- and taxes all of them. Yet Napa still can't get it together to do what it did back in 2010 when it passed its dispensary ordinance, but it's been on hold since then.
It's not clear what's motivating Napa legislators' fears. No California jurisdiction has been sued by the federal government for permitting medical marijuana within city limits -- not San Francisco, which permitted dispensaries in 2005, during an era when a Former Ronald Reagan appointee headed the local branch of George W. Bush's Justice Department, and not Oakland, which has sued the feds.
Either of those two cities would be higher priorities for the feds; same goes for Vallejo, where pot-seeking Napa residents must drive to find legal weed.
Educators and members of law enforcement came out strongly against Napa's modest marijuana allowance, and the dispensary ordinance was repealed, 3-2.
Napa would never have more than one dispensary, so it's not as if wine would somehow be supplanted by weed anytime soon. It is troubling, however, that the canard of "legal vulnerability" was able to roll through the debated, unfounded and unquestioned even by the the Napa Valley Register -- particularly in an area that markets itself internationally as an open-air drug market.
Reefer madness lives on in wine country -- but please do pass the Cabernet.