Marjuana: Legalize our economic savior

IUS Horizon

“Legalize it, don’t criticize it.” These words by Peter Tosh echoed throughout America in the late 1970s. Even throughout the 1960s and 1970s, when the “drug craze” hit the United States full force, activists were trying to get marijuana legalized.

This was an effort that first began after marijuana was officially  banned in 1937. Now, the controversy continues to heat up since California’s Proposition 19.

Prop 36 was first put to the California voters on the ballot in the November 2000 election to reduce the sentences of small-quantity marijuana possessions. It was passed by nearly 70 percent of the voters, and the government began regulating marijuana on July 1, 2001. Thus, minor possession offenders often received drug treatment instead of incarceration.

Prop 36 was just the beginning. After lesser sentences were given, medical marijuana became legal — to an extent — and now Prop 19 will be on the November ballot for California voters. Within the guidelines of Prop 19, marijuana would be legal in California, allowing residents who are 21-years-old and older to carry up to an ounce for personal consumption. Also under Prop 19, residents will be able to grow marijuana in a space up to 25 square feet for personal consumption. California smokers will be able to smoke in their residence and in establishments licensed for marijuana consumption.

The proposal would also allow local governments to regulate the sale, taxation and transportation of marijuana from licensed establishments. This means someone can walk into a store and buy marijuana by the bag, joint or however else the government sees fit. Local governments could also decrease or increase the legal amount that can be carried and grown.

Prop 19 is indeed a huge milestone toward the legalization of marijuana. This paves the way for other states and hopefully even the federal government to legalize cannabis. For me, and probably many others, California’s steps toward legalization are seen as a desperate ploy to generate revenue for a bankrupt state.

Face it, governments need money and when a piece of legislation gives an entity the ability to push taxes, they are going to take it. However, a lot of people feel this is beyond a step from taxes on goods, gas and even cigarettes. But is it really? The New York Times recently reported legalizing marijuana would generate an extra $1.4 billion for the state. Of course, only
allow those 21-year-olds and older to purchase it and limit the amount someone can carry.

With the lesser punishments of possession and use, the corrections system is open for murderers and rapists — those who commit a more heinous crime than smoking or selling pot. Treatment centers also save money. People won’t abuse marijuana as much if it is legal. This would save money and resources for people with addictions to harsher drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine. It’s been proven that marijuana is far less harmful to a person than other drugs and even alcohol.

Often the counter-argument against Prop 19 is, if regulated, it will make the person incapable to drive a car, operate machinery and even function properly. I see the logic, but alcohol is legal and regulated though people still drive drunk and kill others every day. Marijuana’s effects are totally different than alcohol — some people often feel a sense of calmness and total relaxation and don’t commit violent actions, but, there are exceptions to everything.

Hopefully, when  November rolls around, California’s residents will vote on what they believe but also realize the next generation is here. It is time to understand extreme measures have to be taken for the common good.

The common good is to provide resources for the people and resources require money. Money makes the world go around.


Features Editor