California: Up in Smoke

October 29, 2013

Sonoma State Star

There seems to be a haze over government, society and individuals in the debate about whether or not to legalize marijuana.  California is on the verge of passing the legalization of marijuana in 2014, but is it the right thing to do for our state?

Prohibition can be deemed the main reason for the association between drugs and violence.  With marijuana legal in the Netherlands, violence over drugs has been miniscule over their 30 plus years of legalization.

They would rather have marijuana sold in regulated shops than by shady people making drug deals in their community, and it’s proving to be an efficient method for them. 

Proposition 19 from 2010 offered some pretty solid points on why the legalization of cannabis would be potentially beneficial to the state of California. 

It said that only people 21 years old or older are allowed to possess, cultivate or transport marijuana for personal use. It would have permitted local governments to regulate and tax commercial production, distribution and sale. It also would have prohibited people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public or smoking it while minors are present. An important aspect is that it maintained prohibitions against driving while impaired. Lastly, it would have limited employers’ ability to address marijuana use to situations where job performance is actually impaired.

Supporters of Proposition 19 argue that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes, with which I agree because marijuana is not an addictive substance. Legalizing marijuana would create more tax revenue, reduce government expenditures, and create a broader economy with more jobs.  

Economic examples include marijuana coffeehouses, tourism and a hemp industry.  In the Netherlands, coffeehouses are establishments that sell marijuana for personal consumption. Furthermore, they are tolerated by local authorities. Opponents say the proposition is a legal nightmare that will make our highways, workplaces and communities less safe. They also believe that legalization will lead to substance abuse and long-term public costs associated with the use of marijuana. Proposition 19 is also misleading and won’t have an established framework of laws. 

How would you rank alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana based on these oppositions? 

For me it is easy by judging the overall effects of each. As far as danger goes, I would say alcohol is the worst, followed by tobacco, then marijuana.  Maybe it’s because I have seen so many lives negatively impacted by alcohol and tobacco compared to marijuana.  

Mac Clouse, a professor at the University of Denver, believes legalizing pot could turn into“a major revenue-producer for the state.”