Drug Policy

Why Not Mandate That Take-Out Containers Be Made of Hemp?

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By a vote of eight to three, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors yesterday gave initial approval to an ordinance instructing police to make marijuana possession by adults their lowest law enforcement priority. The Drug Policy Alliance notes that a number of other cities, including Oakland, West Hollywood, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Missoula, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas, have similar policies (a few of them approved by voters in this month's elections). No doubt this is progress of a sort, but it's hard for me to get excited about it. Even without the new ordinance, how big a law enforcement priority would marijuana possession be in San Francisco? Judging from the fact that the police department supported the ordinance, I'd say not very.

Nor am I optimistic that gestures like these will have much of an impact in places where pot possession is treated as a big deal. It seems to me the ordinances mainly tend to confirm that cities like West Hollywood, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco are licentious places that do not share the values of Middle America. It does not help that, at the same meeting where San Francisco's supervisors voted to leave pot smokers alone, they approved a $100 fine for the newly invented crime of using foam take-out containers. A city where marijuana possession is OK but plastic food boxes are verboten? The Rush Limbaugh bit writes itself.

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  1. Doesn’t Seattle have a similiar ordinance?

  2. What are those SFers thinking? Outlawing something that hurts others while relaxing laws on things that hurt only yourself? Barbaric! OK, it’s a bit of a stretch, but philosophically that’s where they’re coming from.

  3. There are environmental reasons not to use foam take-out containers.

  4. Hey, lighten up on the ynicism-cay! Or just, you know, light up! Light up and shut up, and move to Missoula (the Hemponopolis of the Rockies), and take a walk in Jeannette Rankin Memorial Park, the only U.S. rep to vote against U.S. entry into both world wars!

  5. Down the peninsula from SF, in Belmont, they are looking into the country’s strictest municipal smoking ban. You couldn’t smoke alone in your car. You could ONLY smoke in your single-family dwelling (sorry all you aparment- and condo-dwelling smokers). Smoking outside, in a private business, or in any building open to the public would get you a ticket and a stiff fine.

    I hope this crashes and burns. We just defeated an onerous statewide tobacco tax, seemingly indicating that there are some limits to the amount of smoker-persecution that Californians will stand. Enough is too much, already. (I don’t smoke and don’t like to be around smoking, but really, California — especially my own home town of Santa Cruz, where the cops now leave you alone for sparking a joint but will cite you for lighting a tobacco cigarette — has gone way overboard.

  6. I for one have never been hurt by a foam take-out container. I invite those who have to share their stories.

  7. Can you show us where the foam touched you?

    Yeah, I know, the environmental impacts are indirect, yadda yadda, but I just had to say that after reading RC’s comment.

  8. I for one have never been hurt by a foam take-out container. I invite those who have to share their stories.

    I once had a carton of them fall on me in a storeroom. Ouch! Does that count?

  9. It seems to me the ordinances mainly tend to confirm that cities like West Hollywood, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco are licentious places that do not share the values of Middle America.

    San Fran was one of the first places to outlaw smoking in bars and at the work place…if the trend of defacto legalization of pot follows that I would very happy. Also middle American seems more then happy to follow the trend of outlawing public smoking.

  10. Dan T:

    What are the environmental reasons not to use foam take-out containers?

  11. Buckshot, foam containers made of polystyrene do not biodegrade and are suspected to leak styrenes into the food/immediate air surrounding the container.

    I do not have time to do a full search on the potential health “hazards” that foam containers pose to individuals. However, I can relate many anecdotes of walks in the woods, parks, etc. where I have collected numerous foam coffee cups and other containers while on my ramble. Since they do not biodegrade, and since some people insist on not using trash cans, they can become an unsightly mess. My dander gets up when I see garbage floating around, no matter where or what that trash might be.

    There are some companies making foam containers out of cellulose from corn and trees that are considered bio-friendly since they degrade and are technically edible – however, they are expensive and not widely distributed and so offer no cost benefit to many restaurants, mom-and-pops, etc. to make the switch.

  12. My dander gets up when I see garbage floating around, no matter where or what that trash might be.

    Mine too, but isn’t that really about the people who throw trash on the ground rather than the type of trash? Seems like a better solution would be putting teeth into littering laws. That way you cover the full range of the problem.

  13. disclaimer: i am in the plastic foam biz, but i don’t make take-out containers.

    the environmental stuff is, to put it kindly, bullshit. the process of making cardboard or paper containers creates much more hazardous effluent (especially from the bleaching of the pulp and sizing) than foaming thermoplastics.

  14. “Seems like a better solution would be putting teeth into littering laws. That way you cover the full range of the problem.”

    Or you just put the problem out of sight. Part of the problem is about waste management, part of the problem is that polystyrene is a petroleum byproduct product, and part of it is good new fashioned idealism.

  15. Or you just put the problem out of sight.

    The problem to which I was referring is litter. Only a small percentage of what I see is actually Styrofoam ?. Banning polystyrene takeout containers doesn’t address bottles, cans, cigarette butts and most other litter at the source.

  16. That’s my point. That focusing on the litter doesn’t address the issue. It’s a deliberate sidestep designed to appeal to the who-tha-f*ck-cares club. We all hate litter, right? I don’t know if styrofoam is killing us or showering us with delicious convenience, but to say this is a litter issue is just plain wrong. There is some truth to the enviros’s concern, styrofoam doesn’t go away. To call the issue bullshit calls into question one’s credibility. Just because other containers cause the same amount or more damage doesn’t make styrofoam good for the environment.

  17. it isn’t good, it’s just less bad for the environment than the alternative that the morons running sf prefer.

    litter is an esthetic issue, not an environmental one.

  18. Glass, pottery, and most plastics don’t “go away” either. Should we outlaw all products made of these as well. I can personally testify that glass has caused me more, and more serious, injuries than all the styrofoam in the world. Does this make sense?

  19. edna,

    “the process of making cardboard or paper containers creates much more hazardous effluent (especially from the bleaching of the pulp and sizing) than foaming thermoplastics.”

    Well sure, if you’re only going to look at the process from the foaming forward. What about the production of all of those little beads?

    (Are you in Leominster by any chance?)

  20. no, i’m in napa valley.

    yes, i did consider the formation of the beads, though most of those containers don’t get foamed that way- they are extruded as sheets with a blowing agent (usually a simple hydrocarbon or water). more modern packaging uses material impregnated with nitrogen in an autoclave.

  21. J sub D:

    It makes sense if you don’t reuse the glass and pottery. I would say recycling glass is a robust industry, while recycling styrofoam is non-existent.

  22. recycling glass is only viable when subsidized.

  23. Waitasec.

    How can a material be both non-degradable but still leach styrenes into the surrounding environment?

  24. there can theoretically be monomer residues in the polymer. however, in order to be fda-acceptable for direct food contact, the monomer content is ridiculously low.

  25. edna: your viability comment is not a negation of my assertion, it is an attempt to bring the argument around to a subject more favorable to your view (i.e., private industry should be the only industry counted when deciding whether an industry is robust, by your logic, the defense industry isn’t robust). Your comment is a non sequitur when you look at the context. So here is my response to your comment: if my grandma had wheels, she’d be a cart.

  26. if taxpayer money has to be extracted to make a business work, it ain’t viable.

    glass is made from sand. there’s no shortage of that. the energy expenditure to recycle exceeds that of making fresh glass, thus the need for subsidy.

    as a side note, i’d encourage anyone interested to see penn and teller’s bit on recycling. absolutely fucking hilarious.

  27. “Why Not Mandate That Take-Out Containers Be Made of Hemp?”

    You know, the really good kind.

    I’ll have a gumdrop. Could you wrap that up for me?

    Sure. That’ll be $45.

  28. J sub D,

    While glass and pottery don’t biodegrade, that is because they are already in chemically inert, environmentally-neutral forms. The physical breakdown of those materials makes them indistinguishable from sand, soil, or very small rocks.

    edna,

    “recycling glass is only viable when subsidized.” Not recycling glass only makes sense if the subsidy, minus the market value, is greater than tipping fees at the landfill. Not recycling glass costs money, too.

  29. “If taxpayer money has to be extracted to make a business work, it ain’t viable.”

    Yeah, right. Tell Nicholas Chabraja that his business isn’t viable. In fact, his company employs over 80,000 people in a non-viable venture, and the stock is at a very non-robust $75 per share. Care to rephrase your moralizing bullshit? I may even agree with you.

  30. Not recycling glass costs money, too.

    If the bums aren’t fishing it out of the dumpsters there isn’t much of a market for it. Perhaps we need to put a tipping fee on the city trashcans?

  31. Care to rephrase your moralizing bullshit? I may even agree with you.

    Now there’s a sensible, proportionate response by an emotionally functional human being.

  32. Eric the .5b:

    Naw, I’m just that foul-mouthed. Forgot to change it to “BS” before hitting submit. Hey, pick on somebody your own intellectual caliber.

  33. In fact, his company employs over 80,000 people in a non-viable venture, and the stock is at a very non-robust $75 per share.

    how is that relevant to the degree of subsidy?

  34. by your logic, the defense industry isn’t robust

    It isn’t. How big do you think the U.S. defense sector would be without customer number 1?

    Further, U.S. defense companies have been encouraged to consolidate by that same customer. It’s so fucked up it’s only possible because of government.

  35. What’s the problem with styrofoam’s lasting “forever”?

  36. Give it up, Lamar. edna is pwning you on the viability/subsidy issue, and you appear to be completely oblivious.

  37. RC Dean: Great! All I’ve seen so far are “ifs” and “buts.” You don’t consider any government spending legitimate, and therefore you don’t count government spending towards the “viability” of an industry. Edna talks about a “subsidy” and juris imprudent is worrying about a world where the government doesn’t even exist. There are costs generated by society that are paid for by society. These costs are reletively few, and I’m not sure styrofoam recycling is one of them, but you are deliberately conflating the government as a customer with government subsidies. The difference? If the voters of Largo, FL demand glass recycling, and the city council hires a company, that is not a subsidy, that is a purchase of services. Perhaps you are against it, and that’s fine. But it isn’t a subsidy. Now, when businesses stay afloat by selling goods or services to customers, are those businesses not viable?

    By the way, did RC Dean just claim victory using kiddie slang? Or can’t use your ring finger to type? AYSOS?

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