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Should Marijuana Be Legal in California?

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With California’s economy rapidly sliding down a very deep hole, something needs to be done. Democrats and Republicans can agree on that. Is legalizing marijuana the answer? Democratic state assemblyman Tom Ammiano has been pushing legalization for months and now Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is “open to debate” about the legalization and the tax revenue it could bring in.

Ammiano’s plan is to allow people over 21 years old  to grow, buy, sell and possess marijuana, California's biggest cash crop. It’s responsible for $14 billion a year in revenue. Second place are milk and cream, which only brings in $7.3 billion a year. The bill would bring in about $1.3 billion a year in taxes from marijuana. California’s economy needs that money.

In a response, Schwarzenegger’s exact words were: "I think it's time for debate. I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues — I'm always for an open debate on it."

There are some major arguments to legalizing marijuana in CA, the biggest one being to help our economy. Being a student at public high school, I wouldn’t be opposed to a little more money for my favorite teachers or maybe some new textbooks. A lot of people say that it’s no worse than alcohol. And the truth is that people do marijuana anyway even if it’s illegal! Might has well make some money off of it.

But drugs are always tricky. Exposing yourself to random chemicals is generally not a good idea. It’s addictive (But then again, so are a lot of legal prescribed drugs.) The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 says that pot has "a high potential for abuse" and is linked to drugs like heroin. You don’t want to get mixed up with heroin. Not a pretty drug.

I don’t hang out with potheads. I’ve never tried pot and I’ve never wanted to. I know people who do pot and I just avoid them. However, I have to side with Mr. Ammiano here. My philosophy is that it’s impossible to stop people from doing marijuana, so it’s like free money for the government. Who can argue with that?

But would the people of California be able to accept it? Apparently they might. A poll shows 56 percent of the state favors legalization. Whatever happens, California has to address this controversial issue and if it can help address some of the problems created by the failing economy, so much the better.

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About Maddy

  • http://nitpickingnightdragon.blogspot.com Mark Edward Manning

    A few years ago, I was very pro-legalization of cannabis — especially when using market theory and the supply-and-demand argument — but now I’m not so sure. I used to believe that cannabis users can never be violent, but a decades’ worth of society’s experience with heavy cannabis users here in Britain has shown me otherwise.

    I no longer think there’s any doubt that the artificially grown super-strength marijuana is harmful, but the jury is still very much out on “regular” grass. We need the science community to really come together to support a project determining just how harmful (or not) regular cannabis is, or indeed, if there are some varieties that are less harmful than others that could be legal in CA and elsewhere.

    I don’t think it’s beyond the law’s scope or ability to deferentiate between differing strengths of cannabis. In fact, California should adopt Canada’s policy of providing only gov’t-grown pot.

  • ResponsibleAdult

    Legalize it. Treat it like alcohol – plain and simple.

    And I’m sick of hearing that it’s a gateway drug. Alcohol is the ultimate gateway drug. It’s most people’s first buzz.

    Sure it will be exciting for 6 months, then things will calm down. The people who smoke will still smoke. The people that won’t smoke won’t. Things won’t change much.

  • http://wwwstevenphibbs.com Steven

    I think some of the major counter arguments against marijuana being legalized are all symptoms of it being illegal in the first place. MJ is a gateway drug because it is dealt in the black market, with drug dealers motivated by profit who also use other illegal substances to make money. Normal, law abiding citizens are exposed to a part of society they wouldn’t normally be.
    When was the last time you were offered cocaine or heroine in your local beer aisle?

    People also have the mentality after experiencing marijuana for the first time and realizing it isn’t so evil, What else was my DARE officer lying to me about? It breeds rebellion against authority and a distrust for information (which isn’t a bad thing in all cases – we should come to our own conclusions and not rely on the telephone game for our information to be handed down to us). If we teach people the truth about these substances from the beginning, they might respect our opinions more about really addicting and serious drugs.

    I would also check your information regarding it’s addiction potential, in comparison to prescription medicines and cigarettes and alcohol, it is barely habit forming at best. Just ask any 30 year old cigarette smoker how hard it is to quit, or how sick someone gets after they stop consuming alcohol after everyday abuse. MJ is nowhere close to both these legal, regulated, readily available substances.

    If we spent half the money on drug education and treatment that we do on arresting, prosecuting, and jailing marijuana users I think we would have a much better society. Portugal is a great example of this – they have successfully legalized all drugs for the last 8 years.

    The major issue for me, is personal freedoms. We cannot continue to let the actions of a few irresponsible users ruin it for the majority of cannabis users. You don’t hear about your lawyer or doctor relaxing after a long work week with a glass of wine and a joint on the back deck because the average cannabis user has to hide the fact. The majority of us are law abiding citizens who just want the right to enjoy ourselves responsibly, without the fear of being arrested.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Mark, we regulate the strength of beer and wine and we could do the same to marijuana to control the dreaded “skunk” which appears to be a problem in the UK.

    In legalizing marijuana they probably ought to put it in two classes like alcohol, with normal marijuana treated like beer or wine and skunk or hashish treated like hard liquor.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    In addition, Dave, there are other issues besides marijuana use involved in the violent behaviour in Britain that Mark alludes to.

    Steven hit the nail on the head when he observed that the arguments against legalization hinge largely on the fact that it is illegal.

    Case in point: Maddy citing a piece of anti-drug legislation in support of the anti-legalization argument. In other words, ‘marijuana shouldn’t be legalized because it’s illegal’.

    (!)

  • Doug Hunter

    Yes, definitely marijuana. I was sceptical of some of the harder drugs, but results in Portugal do seem to indicate success. The money spent on prisons and enforcement could be put to so much better use.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    I am off to the Dead concert to check out the parking lot scene. I will conduct an informal poll among the Caleefornians there and report back.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Good for you, Doug. That’s progressive thinking.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Should Marijuana Be Legal in California?

    Yes. Next question?

  • Alex

    mary i love

  • John

    I highly support legalization of Marijuana.Marijuana is not physically a gateway drug.It wouldn’t be a gateway if it wasn’t sold on the black market.We also wouldn’t be getting our drugs laced in it.
    Legalize it.

  • Richard Steeb

    To keep Cannabis illegal while tobacco and alcohol are dispensed freely is murderously stupid.

    Henningfield-Benowitz
    Tashkin

    Any questions?

    Richard Steeb
    San Jose, California

  • Aaron DelCour

    ok so all i have to say is that, weed in NO WAY can lead to use of other drugs like “heroine”. its not a gateway drug!
    ok go to Youtube and look up Marijuana Union. and then se what you think about weed. MAKE MARIJUANA LEAGAL EVERYWHERE!

  • Mr. Dock Ellis

    “I know people who do pot and I just avoid them.”

    By legalizing it, you’d have a tougher time avoiding them wouldn’t you?

    Once you let the genie is out of the bottle, so to speak, you’d better learn to like potheads.

    Once this is legal, then it will be some other drug legalized and then another (Soma?).

    Why? It’s a distraction.

    “The human capacity for distraction is infinite” Aldous Huxley

    Drugs help you ignore that man behind the curtain.

  • Spencer Brothers

    OK, people. Please do a little research prior to making the it’s bad because it’s illegal argument. With that kind of logic, the Jim Crow Laws were justifiable as was desegregation. It is up to us as citizens to push for social reform when we see problems in our laws.

    Marijuana was made illegal in the 1930’s due to the yellow journalism printed about it. Blatant lies were printed like “Boy smokes reefer goes on killing spree” and such. William Randolph Hearst was the spearhead of these clearly false accusations and was the one who introduced the term “marijuana.” I rarely give conspiracy theories any validation, but Hearst did own a rope production company and did want to see hemp made illegal so as not to threaten his business. Just one look at Reefer Madness, a 1930s propaganda film against marijuana, is enough for you to see why marijuana was made illegal. It claimed is was the most deadly of all narcotics, more so than heroin or cocaine, and drove people to hopeless insanity, murder, and suicide. There were no health hearings when marijuana was made illegal. These are all facts. So that debunks the “it’s illegal for a reason” argument.

    Also, the gateway theories are irrelevant, just because people who use harder drugs also use marijuana has no meaning whatsoever. The extremely vast majority of people who smoke pot do not do harder drugs.

    The number of chemicals in marijuana is also an irrelevant statistic because there are hundreds of chemicals in other substances we put in our body, and not just drugs.

    Marijuana does not kill brain cells, that theory has also been medically debunked. In ‘Super High Me’ comedian Doug Benson quits smoking weed for 30 days, then smokes weed all day everyday for 30 days, and tests his condition before and after. The doctors found NOTHING wrong with him. Almost every case against marijuana has been debunked or dismissed by lack of evidence by professional health studies, but for some reason the government has not promoted this information.

    I think that the primary obstacles in the way for people to embrace the fact that marijuana is in fact “One of the safest, therapeutically active substances know to man”-DEA Judge Francis Young is fear, close-mindedness, and moral hauteur.

    People who smoke pot responsibly are not psychologically or socially different from people who don’t except I notice they tend to have more relaxed, tolerant personalities. This is coming from someone who hangs out with stoners all the time, and someone who used to smoke pot on a regular basis. My personal experience is, there is nothing wrong with pot, I have never built up a “tolerance” and needed a stronger “fix,” pot just does not work like that.

    We really need to dispel 70 years of lies and give this- a PLANT which is GROWN IN THE GROUND, like any other PLANT, there are no super chemicals added into it by dealers, it is not a narcotic, a chance to show us the good it will do for our nation. A safer alternative to alcohol, medicinal value, and millions in tax revenue for our flailing economy. Sounds good to me, maybe it sounds good to you? People who are going to smoke are going to smoke, people who aren’t, aren’t, and keeping it illegal doesn’t stop millions of America from indulging in smoking this PLANT every day.

  • http://www.webmd.com/lung-cancer/news/20070417/marijuana-may-fight-lung-tumors Nate

    Okay first off. marijuana is not physically addictive. It is only psychologically addictive, and can therefore fit into the same level of addiction as food. Second off, what is meant by “random chemicals”. Hell, were exposed to random chemicals everyday. In the air, in our food, in our water. A study just found that the chemicals found in marijuana do not raise the risk of Cancer. Even if heavily smoked. in fact, Marijuana has been shown to help kill aging cells which could become cancerous. The story can be found here.

  • steven

    dont trust the gov just watch reefer maddnes and see all the lies they put out. alcohol is by far the worst drug on earth and its legal and yes if its legal so should weed. when was the last time u heard of someone high on weed crashing his car and killing a whole family, with alcohol it happens all the time, and people except it as part of life, why the hell is alcohol legal.

  • Tap

    Not only should Marijuana be legal, but Hemp should be allowed to be grown by farmers in the U.S. The US not only has outdated laws, but laws that should never have been passed in the first place. We have criminalized our citizens for using a natural herb, and we have prevented our farmers from producing a useful and productive crop – Hemp. The same people who are against legalization of Marijuana because of harm to children are the same people who want less government. Let us have less government and let concerned citizens educate children about drugs. The real harm is ignorance and not knowing the facts. I know Marijuana possession has been lowered in many states to a misdemeanor but that was not always the case. I have two brothers that were incarcerated for 2 years for possession in the 1970’s. We have more dangerous criminals to fill our jails – don’t you think. I could go on and on about the legalization to grow Hemp in the US – it’s benefits and profit, but there is not the time on this blog. I do not smoke marijuana, but it is not the government’s place to assume every pot smoker is an addict or deviant, just as every drinker is not an alcoholic, every smoker is not killing themselves (okay – scratch that one), and every person who overeats become medical burdens (okay scratch that one too) to our society. If that was the case, all vices or pleasures would be illegal. I not only think California should vote on the legalization of Marijuana and Hemp, but it should be put on a national ballot as well :)

  • Tap

    Oh I forgot to add – we can fuel our cars with Hemp! Tax revenue and solve our energy problems at the same time :)

  • Shane

    Just look at Amsterdam, their teen drug abuse is almost half what it is in America.

  • Sunjay

    Okay fine we get it. Pot is not anymore addictive than say chocolate, but it is addictive to some extent. POTENTIALLY make a lot of money from the legalization of pot.
    Fine some people will never smoke pot weather it is legal or not and some will always smoke pot.
    BUT can anyone think of the consequences of making a substance or “plant” that has been illegal for so long, legal.
    Yes maybe after a few YEARS, the demand will settle down, but if pot is made legal demand will skyrocket.
    Those that were detered by it being illegal (some people are against breaking the law [crazy huh], and do fear jail time) will now have no reason not to try it.
    So can we all agree demand for pot will increase if it is made legal? I’d say so.
    Now can we all agree pot is not good for you? Maybe that one is more difficult. Yes it does have a substantial amount of benefits, but those benefits do not out weight the negative aspects, except for a minuscule percentage of the population.
    LET’S FACE IT, POT WILL NEVER BE GOOD FOR A PERSON. I’m not saying it is as bad as alcohol, cigs, or heroin, but it definitely isn’t something people should do because it is unhealthy. I’m sure you know all the statistics about what it does to lungs and etc.
    This leads to my next point. We all agree that it isn’t as bad as some legal drugs like alcohol and cigs, but this is NOT basis for why it should be legalized. Everyone knows alcohol is not good for you, so would anyone be for legalizing another substance like it?
    NO. Just because there are worst substances out there that are legal does not mean we should legalize pot. Why legalize more unhealthy substances? It will create more bad than good. The negatives outweigh the positives.
    Yes, every pothead wants it legal, but theses vocal few cannot be the legislators for California. The public needs to informed on its merits and if need be have it put to a vote. It will not pass a legalization vote, but sure, I’m more than willing to put it to a vote to see what fellow Californians think.
    Fine we get it, the government could

    Just a small note, the governator allowed this issued, that is not being debated in any other state, to be debated here in California because California desperately needs money. It is on the verge of not being able to pay state employees, like teachers and we need teachers. Would this issue be up for debate if California didn’t desperately need money? If so, will it really bring in the amount of money predicted? Highly Doubtful. There will always be a black market for pot.
    Finally let’s suppose pot really will bring in the amount of revenue it is supposed to, how much is “$1.3 billion” going to really do for California? The federal government could easily get that money from somewhere else if California desperately needed it. I’m just saying 1.3 sounds like a lo more than it is, if you look at how much the government is spending on things like the war, you’d laugh at 1.3 billion.

    So in conclusion pot should not be legalized because it is unhealthy, harmful, and its legalization would increase demand. Also it may not increase revenues quite as much as predicted.

  • Bliffle

    “Just a small note, the governator allowed this issued, that is not being debated in any other state, to be debated…”

    The gov does not have the power to allow or disallow any debate. And, in fact, legalization was discussed long before Arnold dreamed of entering politics.

    Pot should be regulated just like beer.

  • Jordan Richardson

    LET’S FACE IT, POT WILL NEVER BE GOOD FOR A PERSON

    This is so wrong it’s not funny. A friend of mine with Crohn’s disease uses medical marijuana frequently to help with her symptoms. I know others who have experienced the same through using medical marijuana, which is entirely legal up here.

    Here where I live in Vancouver, pot is essentially legal. There is also a government motion in Canada to legalize it and to offer a regulatory framework with which to monitor marijuana production in conjunction with public health strategies and public education. This has come from Vancouver’s plan from a few years back (“Preventing Harm from Psychoactive Drug Use”).

    Stephen Harper’s conservative gov’t doesn’t really seem all that interested in furthering these ideas to a national level, though, even going so far as to overturn Liberal gov’t drafts of legalization.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Sunjay, you have no idea what you are talking about in regards to this issue.

    Here’s another error in your comment: “Everyone knows alcohol is not good for you”

    Actually many studies have shown that alcohol, particularly wine and beer, in small amounts is good for a person. For example, red wine is good for dealing with cholesterol.

    There are a few others that haven’t been addressed, but I don’t have the time right now to point them out.

  • Joseph

    Let them smoke it. Cheeze…

  • wak e miss

    after 50 years. i’m still here. I retired after 30 years. I’m a native american and I wish this was the land of the free. I’ve never hurt anyone on it. but alcohol. is different. get high on alcohol and you do stupid things. and you forget. i

  • Bliffle

    Marijuana should be regulated and taxed just like beer.

    CA spends about $10billion/year on prisoners, and most of those are in for smoking MJ. We could save about $5billion/year.

  • IT SHOULD BE

    I THINK IT SHOULD BE IT DOESNT MAKE YOU DO ANYTHINK CRAZY AND IT WILL HELP THIS STATE GET OUT OF THE HOLE THAT IT MADE

  • Lunae

    YES YES YES, it needs to be legalized. if america feels just about achohol and tobacco being legal, which could result to something much more lethal, than why shouldnt marijuana???? people make a huge heep over it and it makes no sense at all. Legalize it, the world will be in a better place.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Repeal of Prohibition paralyzed Mexican cartels in the 30’s. Legalization of marijuana would do the same in 2010. It’s time to get with the program, folks. It’s not only about the “high”, it’s about a versatile plant that could very well become a cash crop like tobacco. The war on drugs is a waste of our tax dollars. That money could have been put to better use bailing out Studebaker.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    2- RA,

    I heard milk is the gateway drug for scotch.

  • http://lizcrouch.com Liz C

    I think it is a very good idea to legalize and regulate it. Much more harm is done by alcohol consumers than by marijuana smokers. We don’t have “Mothers Against Stoned Drivers,” do we! I never have understood the logic behind keeping MJ illegal – a substance that makes you want to think deep thoughts, sit quietly, listen to music, read or write poetry, and then raid the refrigerator. Give me a break! Let them smoke it, and take the MJ enforcement money and go after the drunk drivers.

  • kaiser

    just legalize it already, no big deal.

  • Dan

    I say make it legal, it is much safer than some of the alternatives people use. Some herbal incense products are even remaining legal in states that ban them, and they are way worse when consumed than marijuana.

  • kevin

    its da best thing u could do

  • Weed

    should be legal and free … like alcohol and tabbaco and other drugs .. STOP THE DISCRIMINATION !!!