Swallow fear and regulate legal pot use
October 25, 2010 4:33 PM
In a California park, empty lot, festival, party, or any place where more than five people are gathered, there is a very good chance one can find pot.
It's an illegal substance with nearly the availability of cigarettes and California is putting the issue on the ballot for the midterm election.
Why not regulate a substance that is so prevalent in American culture? Forty-two percent of U.S. adults claim to have tried marijuana, writes Evan Wood in "Why conservatives should favor legalizing marijuana." So why not tax the individuals who use the substance and make a profit -- something this state so badly needs?
Proposition 19 has gained a lot of opposition recently, with a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California stating 49 percent of voters are now against the regulation of marijuana.
The No on 19 campaign has gained most of its momentum with fear. Fear that minors will have easier access, fear that no money will actually come back to the economy and fear that there will be a greater public safety hazard if Proposition 19 passes.
Since the "war on drugs" was declared more than 40 years ago, $18 billion has been budgeted toward anti-drug campaigns. But the International Centre for Science and Drug Policy Study reports that marijuana is almost universally accessible to American youth, and the use of the substance has actually increased among high school seniors.
The Yes on 19 campaign claims that $1.4 billion in revenue could come to the California economy if Proposition 19 passes and $44 billion a year could be saved in enforcement expenditures, according to a recent study by Robin Room for the British Medical Journal.
The No on 19 website claims that "a bus driver could arrive for work with marijuana in his or her system, thereby placing hundreds of school children at risk on a daily basis." But the passing of the proposition does not take away employers' rights to maintain a drug-free environment.
If fear is a successful tactic, then fear the Mexican drug cartels that gain an estimated 60 percent of their profit from sales of marijuana to the U.S. As voters, we have a chance to curb their income by passing a piece of legislation that drops the market price of marijuana while regulating the potency and sale to individuals.
While SB 1449 decriminalized marijuana earlier this month, and now slaps users with fines of $100, if caught with less than one ounce, the next step is regulation of the product itself.
There is a more effective path than fear. By passing Proposition 19 on Nov. 2, voters are given a chance to regulate a substance that has had a cultural stigma attached to it for so long, while generating new revenue for a state steeped in debt. Take a chance and challenge social norms and see what happens when marijuana becomes legal.
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