Last year, I spent quite a bit of time in California. As is my custom when spending time in another state, I prepared by learning more about its people and government.

I started my California research with some of the basics. I assume the state flower is medical marijuana, because it’s everywhere. You can’t go anywhere without catching a whiff of it. The smoking area of my hotel was a 6-foot square landing separating two levels of outdoor steps. When I lit up a cigar in the cramped confines, people on the adjacent sidewalk below stared at me as if I was Quasimodo seeking sanctuary in the bell tower. Even the pair of stoners walking by in a cloud of their own smoke looked at me with disdain.

I quickly discovered the most prevalent medical condition in California is glaucoma, a diagnosis for which is apparently the easiest to obtain to legally purchase weed—I mean medical marijuana. Of course, glaucoma might explain the odd stare of the previously mentioned stoners.

California’s state motto is “Eureka!,” as in “Eureka! I can legally buy weed if I have glaucoma.”

The state’s official seal is a gender-neutral, multi-cultural Nanny surrounded by the motto “Servare Tu Ex Vos,” which is Latin for “Saving You From Yourself.”

California is obsessed with protecting you. Normally, in a column like this “you” means “humanity.” Many state legislatures pass laws to protect humanity. Not California. They want to protect you personally from anything and everything that might possibly harm you, including yourself.

For instance, there is a California law that requires anything having a 1 in 100,000 chance of upping your risk of cancer to come with a state-sanctioned warning. Buy coffee at Starbucks and it’s served with a warning. Park your car at an indoor enclosed parking lot and you get a warning. Go to the dentist—warning. I even got a warning when I checked into my hotel. And for God’s sake, don’t even think about buying anything dyed red.

I’m not sure if medical marijuana bought for the purpose of assisting a cancer patient with appetite issues comes with the appropriate cancer warning, but I digress.

The cancer warning is so prevalent and comes with so many products and services that Californians tend to ignore them all and spend a day at the beach without sunscreen. Since everything is going to kill them, they might as well die with a good tan.

Nowhere is California’s governmental protective dome more blanketing than when it comes to straws.

Just prior to my final left coast trip of the year, Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown signed legislation making it illegal to use plastic straws. Based upon data provided to Governor Moonbeam by some environmental group, disposable straw usage is—wait for it—“an average of 1.6 straws per person (in the US) per day.”

As I don’t need straws to drink Guinness or bourbon, I don’t use 1.6 straws per day. I don’t use that many a month. But groups pushing an agenda never lie. All of which leads me to the conclusion that some of you are going way overboard on personal straw usage. Knock it off. California is passing laws because of your irresponsible method of tasty liquid consumption.

At the Los Angeles Convention Center, I noticed a sign at the concession stand informing me that although I use too damn many straws one “may be provided upon ADA request,” ADA meaning the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Rather than justifying my personal straw usage or non-usage as it may be, I asked instead for an Emotional Assistance Straw. If an airline passenger can take a peacock or miniature horse on an airplane as an emotional assistance animal, I can have my damn straw. The manager denied my reasonable accommodation.

I stood up for my Constitutional rights for an emotional assistance straw and, finally, my loud protestations garnered some attention.

Did you know that the air in Los Angeles County lockup can cause cancer?

Rick Robinson’s latest novel, The Promise of Cedar Key, can be purchased on Amazon and at Joseph Beth Bookstore in Crestview Hills.

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