For those in the know — and that did not include a lot of employees or supervisor types with walkie talkies — there was a casual meet and greet at Casino Morongo with Fifth District County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt in the back room of one of Morongo’s recently refurbished restaurants last Friday.
For those walking in late as lunch was already being served to a handful of constituents, the conversation being led by Hewitt was evolving around cannabis.
It was not the only topic he touched upon, but in an abbreviated visit by this reporter, it was a hot one that commanded a chunk of the supervisor’s time.
“It’s been a Class I controlled substance for so long,” Hewitt noted. “Anytime something’s been demonized for years, there’s going to be a period of transition,” and pointed out the debacle of the Prohibition years that were not ameliorated overnight. “We’re trying to make this transition seamless and fair.”
He indicated that the House of Representatives is working to allow banks in states where marijuana is legal to accept the cash generated from such sales.
Since it is a federal crime to distribute or sell marijuana, banks cannot harbor accounts that receive such funds.
Having all that cash around invites a criminal element, Hewitt said.
What happens to the legislation now rests in the hands of the Senate, he said.
“The lowest unemployment rate is in Colorado,” according to Hewitt. And, “Teen use of marijuana is down,” suggesting that teens try marijuana against their parents’ wishes, making it a primarily rebellious act.
Removing the concept that ingesting marijuana is taboo, makes it less appealing for that demographic, Hewitt claimed.
Another topic that materialized over the Dutch treat meal was the trend of demonizing vaping.
Hewitt is in favor of seeking out the “black market” vape retailers that are not paying attention to any form of regulation and prosecute them.
The topic jumped to discussion of government involvement, or too much government involvement.
“Capitalism forces me to be as efficient as I can,” explained Hewitt, who owns Calimesa-based Champagne Pools, a swimming pool construction company. “When you apply that to government, good things happen.”
Government jobs should not have to pay better than the private sector, Hewitt said. It should be the other way around, he believes. “Public sector jobs should be more fulfilling and enjoyable, so we don’t need to pay them so high,” he said.
“If we want a society of people who make their own decisions, they must have the freedom to fail,” Hewitt said. “Failure leads to wisdom. If you take away the freedom to fail, you take away the ability to succeed. We need to embrace the ideas of free enterprise.”
As constituents around the table (they included folks such as Banning school board member Keri Mariner, or Cabazon Water District board member Alan Davis and a friend of his who is running for a seat on the board, Diana Morris) received their checks, Hewitt squeezed in thoughts on morale among the ranks of the county: social workers and others who do great things and yet receive little recognition from the public.
Quite the contrary, Hewitt noted: “We see in the paper the dozens of cases that go bad — never the thousands of cases that do well. County social workers have thankless jobs. I want to meet with them, without their managers, to hear them out and let them know we appreciate them.”
He also chimed in an update about the I-10 bypass that eventually will wind its way into Banning.
“I hope to see construction within a couple of years,” Hewitt said. “It all comes down to funding. This project really has the ability to help Banning, Beaumont and Cabazon, and will help reduce congestion on Highland Springs Avenue.”
Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at email@example.com , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.