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California's training wheels for young adults
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If you’re between the ages of 18 and 21 and live in California, congratulations: The California Legislature is halfway to further eroding your rights.

The State Senate this week voted to increase the age that you can legally buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. If it passes the Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown signs it, California will embrace the concept of essentially putting training wheels on your adulthood status.

While you can’t legally buy alcohol already, the real question should be why not? There is no morally higher ground by having a higher age limit to legally buy alcohol and tobacco than it is legally able to do anything else.

But the big bad alcohol and tobacco companies want you to start doing something that could ultimately kill you.

Funny, State Senator Hernandez who sponsored the bill seems to have no major issue — at least publicly stated —with 18 year olds making decisions to join the military that certainly can lead to situations where they can get killed or seriously have their health compromised for the rest of their life.

You’re adult enough to essentially agree to lay down your life to protect the freedoms of people in this country — including other adults that can legally buy tobacco and alcohol products — but you’re not considered mature enough to buy tobacco or alcohol.

However, you can legally buy marijuana by simply obtaining a medical marijuana card which based on overwhelming evidence you can easily obtain for unscrupulous sources with a brief five minute exchange — basically long enough to swipe your debit card or fork over the cash to cover the fee of the physician issuing the card.

So how come that is OK?

Oh, right. I forgot. There are medical marijuana advocacy groups out there that cite research saying smoking pot is far, far less dangerous to your overall health than cigarettes. But at the same time legislators ignore similar claims of “research” cited by e-cigarette makers about their product versus cigarettes. Lawmakers are also targeting raising the age limit for the sale of e-cigarette products.

But wait — aren’t both advocacy groups self-serving and their research subject to being taken with a grain of salt? After all, lawmakers across the country did the same when tobacco companies rolled out research saying cigarette filters made smoking less toxic.

No problem as Hernandez and other politicians supporting the effort to raise the age to legally buy tobacco products cite the “bible” when it comes to setting the standard for tobacco research — the  American Lung Association. No one disputes their research.

That is why those politicians hell-bent on eroding the rights of a minority of adults might at least want to check out the American Lung Association website. It clearly states smoking marijuana has the same issues with toxics, irritants, and carcinogen concerns as smoking tobacco. Actually it states because marijuana smokers tend to inhale deeper that they are getting more potentially lethal exposure. In short, smoke is extremely bad for your lungs whether it is from burning wood, cigarettes or marijuana.

And yes, for pot use advocates reading the previous  paragraph who are about to go bonkers, the American Lung Association makes it clear health concerns are different based on how marijuana is consumed although they do note toxicity issues with children who consume pot.

So why doesn’t Hernandez —  or other politicians worried about the health of 18 to 21 year-olds — propose outlawing the sale of marijuana that can be smoked even if the adult with training wheels has a medical marijuana card?

Could it be political suicide to do so even by someone that embraces the nanny state as marijuana may not be viewed as harshly as cigarettes by a majority of people?

And if 18 to 21 year-olds can’t be trusted to make decisions that have long range implications on their overall health because apparently their “brains” aren’t fully developed, then why do we let them enter into long-term contracts to buy a car or sign up for college loans that may take 30 plus years to pay off?

It’s not too much of a stretch arguing having three decades or so of stress trying to figure out how to pay off a crushing debt you entered into when you were 18 while trying to keep your nose above the proverbial water can aggravate serious health conditions.

The real issue here isn’t how addictive smoking is or whether it can kill you.

It’s whether you are an adult at 18.

If you are, the government shouldn’t have any rules in place that conditions the general rights you have as an adult based on an age group alone.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.