Monday, October 18, 2010

Prop on Pot

Here in California, ballot propositions grow like weeds. You may remember our infamous "stop the gays from marrying" prop from 2008. If you love something or hate something, you can try to legalize it, outlaw it, regulate it, or tax it with a proposition. Over 90 were filed with California election officials or proposed in the State Legislature for 2010. Nine will be on the November 2 ballot.

Of course, before I vote, I always do my homework. I study the pros and cons and try to read the actual bill if it's not too daunting. But the one proposition I'm already schooled in is Proposition 19: The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.
Official summary:

Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Permits local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old. Maintains current prohibitions against driving while impaired.

Summary of estimated fiscal impact:

Savings of up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Unknown but potentially major tax, fee, and benefit assessment revenues to state and local government related to the production and sale of marijuana products.
The list of people and organizations endorsing prop 19 is quite diverse, and don't forget about the Facebook billionaire who donated $50,000 in support.

So, with so many voices agreeing with my own pro-legalization views, why do I still feel so anti-establishment? Because marijuana will still be illegal by federal law. And Attorney General Eric Holder doesn't want us to forget that:
We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law.
I get it. Holder is committed to the enforcement of federal laws. And maybe some people will be impressed that the administration is preemptively acting tough and warning the liberal entrepreneurs to not get brazen when setting up shop. But if he thinks he's going to send in loads more DEA goons to pick up the slack in enforcement, well... I don't think sensational raids and photo-ops will impress anybody.

I'm voting yes on Prop 19. We'll see what happens. Simple possession of marijuana in California is now only a $100 infraction thanks to the governator, but we still need to take a bolder step. Maybe other states will follow? Maybe this ill-conceived war on drugs will finally end.

1 comment:

pinkpackrat said...

I'm with you-- legalize it, regulate it, tax it, and forget it. Brings in money, empties the jails, and ruins the business of the Mexican drug cartels-- what's not to like? California would benefit more than most states.