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Momentum Builds for Marijuana Legalization

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In a dramatic shift in public opinion, the latest poll on California’s Proposition 19, which would legalize personal growth and possession of Marijuana, shows the initiative taking a slim lead with 50% of likely voters in support, 40% in opposition and 11% undecided.

This is the first poll to show a clear lead for the ballot issue and continues a remarkable trend where in the course of 3 months the poll ratings for the proposition have reversed from an early 89% opposition to this latest result showing broadening support.

Proposition 19 may be gaining legitimacy because of growing public support from a wide range of interest groups. police chiefs, sheriffs and even judges have expressed support for the measure, as have doctors groups, several city councils and even California’s NAACP, which described its support as “unconditional” and said in a press release:

“We have empirical proof that the application of the marijuana laws has been unfairly applied to young people of color…We are joining a growing number of medical professionals, labor organizations, law enforcement authorities, local municipalities, and approximately 56% of the public, in saying that it is time to (depenalize) the [adult] use of marijuana.”

A study from the Rand Institute shows that legalization would drop the price of marijuana by almost 90%, effectively rendering the illegal trade in cannabis so unprofitable that the drug cartels would be put out of business.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Deano

    Hmmm….I expect the cartels would migrate “upstream” to other narcotics, since they still have their infrastructure in place. It would probably kick off the biggest drug war in history.

  • AlansK

    I you believe we all have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness then I don’t know how you could support the jailing of adults for possession of a plant.

  • http://yes19.org YES on Prop 19

    Here are the reasons why Proposition 19 is good for California. A YES vote on Prop 19 will have the following effects. To read the studies demonstrating these outcomes, please visit yes19.org

    • Reduce violence and crime
    • Reduce racially biased arrests
    • Generate $1.2B to $1.4B in taxes
    • Create 60,000 to 110,000 jobs
    • Reduce police corruption
    • Increase respect for police and the law
    • Free police to focus on property and violent crimes
    • Reduce prison costs and prison overcrowding
    • Expand California economy by $16 to $23 billion
    • Reduce drug cartels’ revenue
    • Reduce environmental damage from illegal grows
    • Allow adults to choose a safer alternative to alcohol
  • http://truespiritofamericaparty.blogspot.com Ajax the Great

    “Hmmm….I expect the cartels would migrate “upstream” to other narcotics, since they still have their infrastructure in place. It would probably kick off the biggest drug war in history.”

    That is unlikely for several reasons. First, the markets for the other drugs are already saturated, thus there is nowhere for them to go. Secondly, their infrastructure is piggybacked on the cannabis trade. Thirdly, any business that loses 60%-70% of their income (how much cartels currently make from cannbis) will go under. Fourthly, the other drug markets are much smaller, and more resources could be devoted to them by law enforcement. Finally, look at what happened when alcohol was legalized in 1933. Crime rates plummeted, even though not every state legalized simultaneously (some states waited years to do so, with Mississippi being the last to do so in 1966).

    Yes on 19!

  • Deano

    I’m not honestly sure whether it would kick anything off or not, just musing about the Law of Unforeseen Consequences.

    I will note that had you legalized beer but not hard liquor, I would have expected the illegal dealers in beer would probably migrate up to the other products seeking new markets rather than quietly folding their tents and slinking away…

    I can’t see the Mexican cartels along the borders states suddenly going home – they have too much at stake. They would fight for a piece of the pie, even if the pie was suddenly much smaller.

    Nature and capitalism abhors a vacuum, and dealers gotta eat…

  • Duncan20903

    I To come to the conclusion above, one has to believe that there are criminal opportunities out there that aren’t currently being exploited by criminals, and gosh, it sure sounds like you think it a good idea to keep cartel product moving to keep them busy lest they decide to do things that are truly heinous.

  • http://antinomian-peacenik.blogspot.com Bill Harris

    The short answer is [YES] to liberty. One need not travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to the ongoing open season on hippies, commies, and non-whites in the war on drugs. Cops get good performance reviews for shooting fish in a barrel. If we’re all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance global credibility.

    The drug czar’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as lives are flushed down expensive tubes. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. Behold, it’s all good. When Eve ate the apple, she knew a good apple, and an evil prohibition. Canadian Marc Emery was extradited to prison for helping American farmers reduce U. S. demand for Mexican pot.

    The CSA (Controlled Substances Act of 1970) reincarnates Al Capone, endangers homeland security, and throws good money after bad. Fiscal policy burns tax dollars to root out the number-one cash crop in the land, instead of taxing sales. Society rejected the plague of prohibition, but it mutated. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment.

    Nixon passed the CSA on the false assurance that the Schafer Commission would later justify criminalizing his enemies, but he underestimated Schafer’s integrity. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA shut down research, and pronounced that marijuana has no medical use.

    The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. Americans shouldn’t need a specific church membership or an act of Congress to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. God’s children’s free exercise of religious liberty may include entheogen sacraments to mediate communion with Him.

    Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t enumerate any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? The Mayflower sailed to escape coerced conformity. Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

    Common-law holds that adults are the legal owners of their own bodies. The Founding Fathers undersigned that the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Socrates said to know your self. Mortal lawmakers should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate seekers’ self-exploration. Liberty is prerequisite for tracking drug-use intentions and outcomes.

  • Deano

    Duncan20903,
    To come to the conclusion above, one has to believe that there are criminal opportunities out there that aren’t currently being exploited by criminals

    No, not really. The point is that it will engender a very strong and violent competition for control of the now tightening drug trade. It will be a situation that will see the cartels move towards making up lost revenues in some other fashion – either by taking over or consolidating with other groups, or migrating more resources to moving alternative product (i.e. meth, cocaine/crack, heroin etc.), which will doubtlessly drive down prices (increased supply) of those particular drugs and result in an increased level of competition in the illegal drug trade.

    gosh, it sure sounds like you think it a good idea to keep cartel product moving to keep them busy lest they decide to do things that are truly heinous

    From the inherent snarkiness and tone of your comment, you seem to be under the impression I’m against the legalization movement. There are some very good points on why legalization would make good sense (most of them made by previous commenters)and it is probable that in the long term the savings in policing, court and prison costs would be considerable.

    I do however question the belief that the only thing standing between us and a hemp-scented paradise is legalization – it will have consequences and impacts that go beyond your immediate fixation…

  • denbee

    The billions of dollars we have spent on the war on drugs have bought us nothing. We need to realize that in any society there will be individuals who will choose to abuse drugs. Legalize all drugs and let those who desire purchase these drugs cheaply. Offer addiction help if wanted but quit spending billions of dollars just to keep a very small percent of our population away from these drugs. This is America. Land of free choice. If these people choose to throw their lives away using hard drugs then so be it. The other 99 percent of us are tired of the financial effort to prohibit them. Legalize drugs, regulate them and tax them. The rest of us have better things to do.

  • Econ

    Deano, why don’t you care about demand curves? Tobacco companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing tobacco and I’m not a smoker; discuss.

    Can you please give us an overview of the “unforeseen consequences” you and many prohibitionists so we can analyze the likelihood of their occurrences together?

  • anHonestPerson

    Let’s be pragmatic and go for the “lesser evil,” if you need to use a word like “evil.” NO ONE HAS EVER DIED FROM OVERDOSE ON POT. We need to stop the criminalizing of it IMMEDIATELY. It is overwhelmingly apparent that the law does far more harm than the drug itself…and many credible scientists agree that cannabis is a very small risk, if any, while also showing numerous medical and relaxation benefits.

    However,

    20 years from now we may be putting 5-10 million people in jail (at least fines and labeling them as criminals for their lifelong resumes) for simple possession. Currently we incarcerate nearly ONE MILLION of our own people who commit a victim-less crime. It must stop.

    Why do Californians plead for prop 19 b/c it will be a budget bailout? Everyone should plead for it because we, the United States, spend a fraction (a hefty one) of a 40-50 billion dollar grant on Drug Enforcement to fight a war (which grows larger every year) on the ideal that the government should be in control of what you put in your body because you (US citizens) can’t be trusted to make good decisions for yourself…aka there must then therefor be a “reservoir of Americans who, as soon as legalization occurred, would rush to ruin their lives.

    Police, one created to serve and protect, break down doors, shoot hundreds of house dogs (true statement), and incarcerate their fellow otherwise taxpaying loyal Americans for the nonviolent and non-lethal ingesting of a plant known to be used extensively for thousands of years by people all over the world…and idolized for its beneficial effects.

  • jsknow

    YES ON 19!

    The Constitutional right to freedom of religion, free speech, a free press, to keep and bear arms, to be secure in your person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, to life, liberty and property, to be protected from having your property taken by the government without due process of law and without just compensation, to confront the witnesses against you, to be protected from excessive bail, excessive fines, cruel and unusual punishment, to vote and others have been unjustly denied to millions of Americans in the name of the drug war.

    ALL MAJOR AUTHORITIES AGREE THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF DRUG-RELATED VIOLENT CRIME IS CAUSED BY THE PROHIBITION AGAINST DRUGS, RATHER THAN THE DRUGS THEMSELVES. THIS WAS THE SAME SITUATION WHICH WAS TRUE DURING ALCOHOL PROHIBITION. ALCOHOL PROHIBITION GAVE RISE TO A VIOLENT CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER DRUG PROHIBITION HAS.

    Unless you are living isolated from the world, you know millions of Americans are breaking not only the marijuana laws but every other drug prohibition law on a huge scale. Who is profiting from this?… Criminals, gangsters and terrorists, BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OUR GOVERNMENT. Regulating drugs will instantly put virtually every illegal drug dealer out of business. Preventing criminals, gangsters and terrorists from being funded by the multi billion dollar annual illegal drug trade is a major reason but far from the only sound reasoning supporting regulating rather than prohibiting drugs.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    Deano: as if they’re not already involved in every other illegal drug under the sun.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    BTW it’s because the CIA needs the dirty money to fund covert ops, that’s why the gov refuses to legitimize it in any way.

    drug cartels can undercut banks with lower interest rates, and they invest their money by providing LBOs, leveraged buy outs, for multinational corporations.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    Oh and the US federal Gov is the largest, most successful drug cartel on the planet, including the Bush family.

    Alcohol is the most dangerous drug on the planet because no other drug turns its user into a fat, stumbling, belligerent moron. In short…

    Alcohol makes you fat and stupid; that’s why it’s legal.

  • Deano

    Econ: Deano, why don’t you care about demand curves?

    Why would I? I’m not talking about demand curves, I’m talking about the consequences of removing the revenue stream of a large illegal enterprise and how it will impact those existing organizations. It will mean less money and more competition for other revenue streams – might be other drugs, might be guns, might be people-smuggling over the Rio Grande. Most probably it means a drug war to control access and supply/distribution to the remaining elements of the narcotics trade. Demand curves are a different topic.

    Can you please give us an overview of the “unforeseen consequences” you and many prohibitionists so we can analyze the likelihood of their occurrences together?

    a). I just did – unforeseen consequence is a potential drug war and increased flow of other narcotics.
    b). I’m not a prohibitionist, so get off your high horse.

    Phil: as if they’re not already involved in every other illegal drug under the sun.

    Some are, some aren’t. The Columbian and Peruvian cartels are mainly involved with cocaine, while the Mexican cartels tend to have their fingers in a much wider range of product due to their geographic location – they are more a middleman than a production centre.

    None of it changes the fact that when markets disappear, organizations change. When that organization is heavily armed, well-funded and prone to violence, increased competition tends to mean a large number of bodies piling up in the streets until a new market equilibrium is reached.

    I’ll note that it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t move ahead with legalization – these are illegal power structures servicing an illegal market and the fastest (and probably most efficient and cost-effective) way to gut them would be to take away their revenues through legalization, commercialize it, tax it and direct the tax monies to anti-drug/anti-addiction programs. You will get a short-term period of violence but in the long-run it will be cheaper than building more prisons.

    But just don’t expect it will end up with a hemp-scented paradise by the sea…

  • http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/author/danmiller/ Dan(Miller)

    I think that Proposition 19 is a good and useful experiment; one of the reasons for having states is to have different laws and procedures and see what works. Workable ideas can be adopted by other states, and unworkable ideas can be rejected.

    Unfortunately, if Proposition 19 passes the Department of Justice will have a difficult time not going after it under the doctrine of federal preemption, as it did with the new Arizona immigration law. As I noted here, if it does not do so,

    the inconsistency of its treatment with that of the new Arizona immigration law would be blatant and further demonstrate that law enforcement in the United States has become a matter of whimsical political convenience. That tendency must be reversed if we are to have any realistic hope of living under a government of law rather than of transient political and ideological whimsy. A good start would be for the federal government to seek dismissal of its recent complaint against the new Arizona immigration law.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Justin

    Speaking of the drug cartels, I wonder… How much money are they donating to the anti-Prop 19 groups?

  • rick

    Hmmm….I expect the cartels would migrate “upstream” to other narcotics, since they still have their infrastructure in place. It would probably kick off the biggest drug war in history.

    You say that like they already haven’t. If marijuana is illegal, then alcohol should be too. This war on drugs is DUMB and has costed billions of tax dollars, and millions of lives.

  • rick

    I vote YES YES YES on prop 19!!!!!!!!!!!!! The time has come!!!

  • James

    The problem of drug abuse should be treated as a medical problem and not a criminal problem.
    I am all for legalizing pot, and decriminalizing everything else. Treatment centers are cheaper than prisons. I wish NC. had a proposition 19 on our ballot this fall.

  • Bob Constantine

    When we don’t have to ask permission to own OUR bodies we are free.

    When peaceful people are incarcerated for the “crime” of self ownership it’s impossible to maintain there is freedom in this country. The particular substance prohibited is irrelevant, if YOU don’t control YOUR own body, somebody else owns you.

    Who owns YOUR body? Who should in a “free country” ?

  • Linus

    Deano,

    There might be fighting between the existing suppliers when their product is removed from the black market. You make a good point. I think it would be foolish for reformers to ignore that as it will then be used as evidence that legalization causes crime. That could cause a backlash against the movement.

    We will see the savings in crime from the lack of new recruits. As it is now, for every supplier or gang member we put in prison, he will be quickly replaced. Under legalization, with an oversupply of drug suppliers, new recruits will be unwelcome in the gangs. Gang membership should shrink. This will be a major benefit to society. It wasn’t so long ago that many states were gang free, and now every single one reports gang problems. Hopefully that is the direction we will head.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/realist Realist

    Who knew that under that gruff, investor-class Dave Nalle visage breathed the lungs of an ex-hippie?

    Careful, Dave! They’ll start calling you a liberal!

  • bill

    the brain has cannabinoid receptors.

  • jim

    really starting to look like legalizing in cali in nov will create de facto legalization nationwide.

    many cops are gonna spin in rage and their redneck brethren are gonna turn purple in fear.

    and let the freak flag fly.

    yassuh

  • ChristopherKelly

    Has anyone mentioned that alcohol is more toxic and addicting than marijuana? need i say more? I don’t see the issue here, it should be legal and taxed as is alcohol.

    I have a family which is mostly in law enforcement and they acknowledge the benefits and are for of the taxation of Cannabis.

    It’s not a War on Drugs, It’s a war on personal freedom.

    My friend of mine, a policeman, says “Your right to swing your fists ends at the tip of my nose”. People should have the right to do what they want with their body and not be incarcerated for it. But if they violate another persons’ rights they should pay the consequences.

    Vote YES on Proposition 19

  • Adam White

    Why stop with just legalizing weed? Why not legalize everything? Imagine how much safer our streets would be if it were no longer profitable for gangs to deal in drugs, and if drug addicts could get a cheap fix without out having to commit property crimes to pay for it! Our street criminals would have return to their traditional sources of revenue, prostitution and gambling; wait, maybe those should be legal too!

  • DeanG

    “Hmmm….I expect the cartels would migrate “upstream” to other narcotics, since they still have their infrastructure in place. It would probably kick off the biggest drug war in history.”

    People generally desire cannabis to restore balance to our natrual endo-cannabinoid system. It is grossly inadequate to believe in the simple coincidence that our brain has cannabinoid receptors… reality is these receptors regulate almost everything in our bodies. Religious people should believe in god more strongly because cannabis exists on Earth… it is the clearest natural proof that the world is not a bad place. But a funny phschology ensues when most Western religious people try pot… they find massive relief from anxiety or other ailments… but in back of their head feel guilty. Then with guilt can come compulsive behavior and possible over-use. Not necessary! Feel glad cannabis exists, use it in moderation to get desired effects, and be a balanced productive person. Enjoy chemical balance through addition to the body of plant-derived exo-cannbinoids!

    Mental illness and stress will decline drastically with cheap and legal access to cannabis. Forward thinking, optimism, return of common sense, and peace will result. Pot is NOT merely a tranquilizer or appetite increaser. Everyone needs to research this for themselves!

    Summary of my long winded post in response to “Deano”: with mental health helped along by legal cannabis… people won’t want ‘hard’ drugs… I just don’t believe cartels will have any extra advantage and upscale to the harder drugs more than already. 99% of people already know and believe in their heart of hearts heroin and meth are super deadly 1-way streets to really ruin your life. I don’t see how cartles will be able to further saturate use of the hard drugs.

  • DeanG

    @Adam White:
    “Why stop with just legalizing weed? Why not legalize everything?…and if drug addicts could get a cheap fix without out having to commit property crimes to pay for it!”

    You seem to think pot is similar to huffing paint fumes or overdriving opiod receptors like heroin does. Cannabis is NOT a cheap high or escape. It is chance to rebalance a natural internal system in the body.

    Many many many rational and sane people have suspected this for a long time. Valid and science-based research has only recently (last 15-30 years) unlocked many of the mysteries of cannabinoids and how they interact with the natural endo-cannabinoid systems.

    Adam White – I interpret your comment as stemming from fear and lack of knowledge. Pot is NOT a cheap high… an easy escape, etc. I have a PhD in chemistry from UIUC, eng at Intel corp for 7 years, and now make guidance systems for unmanned aircraft… My point is I am highly trained in critical thinking and not a hippie stoner looking for any and all excuses to prove pot is good for people so I can use it. I am NOT a cannabis user currently. But the facts and current research on cannabis are becomging OVERWHELMING in favor of personal use.

    This is NOT only an issue of personal freedom. This fight is for the future of human society and sanity. My definition of evil is when a good thing is warped and destroyed, especially when done so unnecessarily and via ignorance.

    Responsible use of cannabis needs to come about just like the Berlin wall fell in 1989. It has been building for years and will resistance will eventually crumble to nothing. The DEA and Federal Govt bully tactics and mis-direction will be exposed foor what they are when the full truth is know by most adults in the USA.

  • Dubya

    If you arent for the war on terrorism you support them and therefore are a terrorist by proxy…

    so in essence if you support the prohibition of marijuana (or any prohibition for that matter) you support the dealers/pushers who make their money with its illegal trade…

    who then support the cartels they buy from and the gang/civil violence related to it…

    who then support (at least in strong part) the terrorists who piggyback on these illegal activities funding the violence and fear (terrorism)…

    therefore that means if you dont support legalization, taxation, and control, YOU (by proxy) ARE A TERRORIST!

    so sayeth the Dubya!

    but really…

    yes on 19. let true freedom spread through this country like initially intended by our countries first colonists and founders. lets stop ignoring our rights provided by the constitution and the injustices carried out by current legislation and the mislead Americans who negatively judge a person based on a social stigma that was created by fear-mongering and misrepresentation.

    simply put, take the time to learn about what it is you so vehemently prohibit. ignorance should NOT rule our society as it so plainly does now.

    weight the pros vs. cons (all of them), dont be so foolish as to think immediate trends will be the norm after the initial chaos. dont be afraid of that chaos either as it is the surest sign of change needed and change occurring (darkest before the dawn).

    prices WILL fluctuate… first down with initial competition being fierce, then up as the (initial) demands will be high. it may continue on that same trend with changes being less and less each time until it finally reaches an equilibrium and standardized pricing.

    Violence WILL occur. well thats just obvious. competition breeds aggression no matter what you are talking about. as stated by so many others however that will reach a boiling point and those for prohibition will use this as an “I told you so” to all those against. however, big-picture is what matters. that violence WILL subside as demands from criminal elements will be negated by the lack of need to break the law (in that regard or over that substance).

    kids WILL continue to find ways to try out these controlled substances. its inevitable that if its taboo then its a mystery. if its a mystery then its interesting. curiosity will always abound and push kids (or otherwise) to have a desire to learn more and/or “try” it.

    just a few views, but it seems like common sense is just ignored. do you walk down the street with blinders on? then why would you choose to walk through life with them on? learn, grow, think, and apply your knowledge and experience. do NOT let fear keep you from growing.

    lastly i must say YOUR PARENTS LIED TO YOU. sadly its true. not with malicious intent, but simply regurgitating what they themselves were told. they are/were JUST as ignorant as you may be. there is a TON of information that can be found online. a simple google search with the word “cannabis” will give you more information then youll ever know what to do with, but get the facts BEFORE taking such strong negative and pessimistic stances. we HAVE to stop the blind from continuing to lead the blind.