The Pros and Cons of Legalizing Marijuana To Financially Save the Golden State.
The Newest California Legislation: AB390-Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act.
The Argument for Legalizing Marijuana:
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s landmark bill (AB 390) to tax and regulate marijuana just like alcohol and tobacco is being considered by state lawmakers.
A grainy black-and-white film fills the dark room. The audience shifts in their seats nervously as a young woman walks into her room and looks in the mirror and suddenly starts to scream! The words “Marijuana Madness” appear on the top of the screen.
The myths are starting to lift like fog dissipating in the light of day. The lies and racist reasons for making marijuana illegal are dropping out of the sky like a steady rain, forming puddles destined to dry up.
Californians, and the other states that allow medical marijuana, have received some good news. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s landmark bill (AB 390) to tax and regulate marijuana just like alcohol and tobacco is being considered by state lawmakers.
This is a legitimate effort to legalize marijuana. The bill would make recreational use of marijuana legal. Users would have to be 21 years old, the same as for alcohol and tobacco. It wouldn’t change the medical marijuana guidelines for those involved in that growing industry, according to Ammiano.
There’s no way to tell how many California residents smoke pot, but according to the Zogby Poll “Fifty-eight percent of respondents residing on the West Coast agree that cannabis should be taxed and legally regulated like alcohol and cigarettes.”
The failing national economy makes headlines every day across America. Wouldn’t it be nice to lead the country out of this depression with an unprecedented economic recovery in California? We could be the model and other states would follow with similar legislation.
Betty Yee, who chairs the state Board of Equalization, which collects the sales tax in California, is in favor of this landmark legislation.
Right now Californians pay $170 million a year for arrests, prosecution and imprisonment of pot offenders, according to statistics released from NORML. Poof! That would go up in smoke, and reduce the prison population as well.
Right now there’s talk among lawmakers of an early release program for as many as 58,000 prisoners in the next couple of years because of overcrowding and fiscal shortfalls. There are plenty of good reasons to support AB 390. As It Stands, it’s time to legalize marijuana and jumpstart California’s sagging economy into the 21st century.
Legalizing marijuana will not solve our budget woes, nor will it be good for public health. Introducing marijuana into the open market is very likely to do some other things, however: increase the drug’s consumption, and with it, the enormous social costs associated with marijuana-related accidents, illness and productivity loss.
The example of legal alcohol and tobacco reveal an unsettling pattern. Legal drugs are by definition easy to obtain, and commercialization glamorizes their use and furthers their social acceptance. Their price is low, and high profits make promotion worthwhile for sellers. Addiction is simply the price of doing business. Any revenue gained from taxing these drugs is quickly offset by the heavy costs associated with their increased prevalence. Because today’s high-potency marijuana is much more harmful than once thought, a spike in use from legalization would result in a financial burden California cannot afford to bear.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s justification for AB 390 relies on the myth that marijuana laws are costing taxpayers millions of dollars and wrecking the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. But a closer examination of the facts reveals a very different reality. Although there are thousands of arrests for marijuana possession every year in our state, most of these arrests result in little or no consequences. Most of those who are charged with possession plead down from more serious charges, such as trafficking. Researchers from Rand report that many marijuana arrests result from drinking and driving violations at alcohol checkpoints. “The police also find joints, and then (the offender) is in jail for both offenses. People’s images of the casual (marijuana) user getting hauled off to jail are not true,” a Rand researcher recently commented.
Rand-sponsored research reveals that in the Netherlands, where the drug is sold openly at “coffee shops,” marijuana use among young adults increased almost 300 percent after a wave of commercialization. The country has also become a haven for producers of high-potency marijuana, and other drugs like ecstasy and methamphetamine. These unintended consequences have led many Dutch officials to advocate for rolling back the status quo.
O.K., time for your opinions. Chemically Green wants to hear from you, for or against.