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Editorial: The Business Case For Marijuana

Posted By Al Stewart On March 27, 2010 @ 9:17 am In News | 6 Comments

In recent months, backers of The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act successfully gathered more than a half-million signatures from supporters throughout California. In November, the state’s voters can finally make it clear [1] that growing, selling or using marijuana should not be a crime.

We certainly hope they do so.

California is poised to adopt a sensible and long overdue approach to marijuana that will allow law enforcement to devote their resources to far more serious matters. The state can also begin collecting excise and sales tax revenue from legalized cannabis while organized crime takes a huge hit.

And let’s not forget that medical marijuana patients will no longer be made to feel like criminals when they seek pain relief and other medicinal benefits.

Still, even in the face of common sense and growing public sentiment, there are those who want the prohibition enforced. Given the uphill climb to see medical marijuana legalized in 14 states [2], this stubborn opposition is as predictable as it is misguided.

In fact, seldom do you encounter an issue where California law enforcement groups and Mexican drug cartels find themselves on common ground. But that, regrettably, appears to be the case in this issue.

The bad guys hate the prospect of legalized marijuana because it will cripple the highly lucrative black market. There will be no further need for human “mules” to risk their lives smuggling marijuana from Mexico and the cartels will lose a cash cow that bankrolls their other illegal activities. That, in and of itself, is a huge upside to legalization.

Far more baffling are police groups that have signaled their determination to push back against safe legal access to marijuana. In their quest to maintain the status quo, they insist marijuana must remain a crime regardless of public opinion or the cost of enforcement. Typically, they predict that more people will drive while impaired. But what they neglect to add is that drunk driving laws have long applied to all types of intoxicants–and will continue to do so. Marijuana users ask for nothing more than the same rights and responsibilities as those who choose to consume alcohol.

Opponents also trot out the old argument that more young people will have access to the drug if it’s legal. But, as any teen will tell you, it’s easier for them to buy marijuana these days than beer. The new law would strictly limit access to those over 21. Anyone providing marijuana to those underage would risk legal sanctions — the same as alcohol. If anything, legalization would bring marijuana out of the shadows and provide much needed distribution and quality control.

Those fighting to keep marijuana illegal seldom mention that the proposed law includes an “opt-out clause.” In the same way that some towns choose to remain “dry” or otherwise curtail the availability of alcohol, individual municipalities in the state could continue to ban marijuana sales. The law would also prohibit consumption in public places.

Many law enforcement groups persist in their ironclad opposition, apparently because that’s the way it’s always been. For example, John Standish, president of the 3,800-member California Peace Officers Association told [3]the New York Times, “We just don’t think any good is going to come from this. It’s not going to better society. It’s going to denigrate it.” As is typically the case, no evidence was cited to support this dubious claim.

The California Police Chiefs Association, meanwhile, has enlisted a hired gun: noted Sacramento lobbyist John Lovell. In an interview [4] with KABC-TV Los Angeles, Lovell dismissed marijuana legalization because “We already have significant problems with alcohol.” It’s worth noting that Lovell‘s website [5] touts him as a “former chief political troubleshooter” for E. & J. Gallo, a major California wine-maker.  

On the other side of the coin, State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano [6] is predicting that legal marijuana would net the state an estimated $1.5 billion in additional revenue each year while saving the state tens of millions of dollars in prison and law enforcement costs. He notes that the money could go to restoring funds for education, including drug awareness programs that were slashed because of budget constraints.

The money issue, while huge, is not the only thing driving the movement to legalize marijuana. The more pressing issue is simply this: the status quo has been a disaster. Until now, handcuffs, jail cells and ruined lives have all-to-frequently defined the state’s approach to enforcement.

It’s time for California to lead the nation and declare that using marijuana should not be a criminal offense.



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URLs in this post:

[1] make it clear: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/25/local/la-me-marijuana-initiative25-2010mar25

[2] 14 states: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-03-08-marijuana_N.htm

[3] told : http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/26/us/26pot.html

[4] interview: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/state&id=7351437

[5] website: http://www.johnlovell.com/news.htm

[6] Tom Ammiano: http://www.tomammiano.com/

[7] : http://www.socialmarker.com/?link=http://marijuanabusinessreporter.com/?p=323&title=Editorial%3A+The+Business+Case+For+Marijuana&text=In+recent+months%2C+backers+of+The+Regulate%2C+Control+and+Tax+Cannabis+Act+successfully+gathered+more+than+a+half-million+signatures+from+supporters+throughout+California.&tags=the+state%2C+marijuana%2C+it%E2%80%99s%2C+california%2C+their%2C+enforcement%2C+would%2C+those%2C+state

[8] Social Bookmarking: http://www.socialmarker.com

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