California: up in smoke

There seems to be a haze in government, society and individual debate about whether to legalize marijuana or not.  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 as 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 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 of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. 

It also 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, in which I agree with 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.  Proposition 19 is also misleading and won’t have an established framework of laws.  They also believe that legalization will lead to substance abuse and long-term public costs associated with the use of marijuana.  

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.” 

One grey issue I see in legalizing marijuana is that there is no way in telling if someone is under the influence of marijuana like there is if someone is under the influence of alcohol. 

 Law enforcement in Washington are using police officers trained to be Drug Recognition Experts to tell if someone is high on marijuana, cocaine, heroin or prescription drugs.  

The way the Drug Recognition Experts test to see if you’re under the influence of marijuana is through a series of eye, balance, counting and remembering tests.  It does not seem very clear and concise like a Breathalyzer test for alcohol.  

In a telephone poll conducted in early October by Gallup, 58 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana.  Out of the 1,028 adults asked in the poll, the only age group against legalizing marijuana was 65 years or older, which still voted 45 percent to legalize it.  

Knowing that California is a more liberal state, I believe marijuana in California will be legal soon. In 2010, California voters opposed legalizing marijuana defeating the proposition with a 53.5 percent vote win.  Also, seeing that two other states legalized marijuana, I feel we might follow suit. 

After all, the Emerald Triangle stretching 10,260 square miles from Mendocino County, Humboldt County and Trinity County is arguably the best place in the world to cultivate marijuana.