Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Marijuana battle continues in California, making huge strides yesterday towards legalization. Pot activists filed a ballot measure on Tuesday in Oakland, California in support of taxation of medical marijuana. If passed this would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of pot. According to the Associated Press, "homeowners could grow marijuana for personal use on garden plots up to 25 square feet." Oakland is a microcosm of the larger picture in California, where earlier this year a Field Poll found that 56 percent of California voters supported legalizing and taxing marijuana. The debate over the pros and cons of legalization has been going on for a long time and it seems that recession was the missing ingredient to the marijuana activists' potential success. How this will work out and whether or not this is going to do more good than harm is very difficult to determine; both sides have shown great arguments to support their cause.
"It's one more pretty amazing element in the momentum toward ending statewide prohibition," said Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance. The statewide measure needs nearly 434,000 signatures to make the November 2010 ballot. This would be two years earlier than planned, but, as far as they are concerned the earlier the better. Two weeks ago several Northern California criminal defense lawyers filed an initiative, the "Tax, Regulate and Control Cannabis Act of 2010," that would set no specific limits on the amount of pot adults could possess or grow for personal use. The measure would repeal all local and state marijuana laws and clear the criminal record of anyone convicted of a pot-related offense. Basically this would make marijuana legal for everyone - medically or not! On the other side of the coin, El Cerrito Police Chief Scott Kirkland believes the health costs of increased statewide substance abuse would overpower the financial gain from legalization.
This is a very difficult subject where both sides seem to have very valid points to support their causes. I feel like the drug trafficking industry would not be inclined to pay any tax if marijuana were legalized since they have been getting away with it for so long. Obviously, the increased tax revenue in the state of California would do a lot of good, but we have to imagine that legalization will only bring the state more problems that cannot be controlled. I am interested in your thoughts on this subject, whether or not this would do more good than harm.