I don’t know about you, but all this election madness is making me queasy. The attack ads, the polls, the air of desperation on all sides. I’m definitely voting (of course!), and I hope everyone who voted last time around will exercise their right and civic duty this time. But I’ll sure be glad when it’s all over.
However, there is one issue that I am watching with particular interest. Next Tuesday Californians get to vote on legalizing marijuana—the private possession of a limited amount of the stuff by individuals 21 and over. For recreational use.
Isn’t that interesting?
It would still be against federal law, but California law enforcement would be freed up to focus on more serious crimes. And passage of this law would be a huge step towards overturning a failed and dangerous nationwide policy that has done much more harm than good--much like that other Prohibition in the 1920s.
Legalization just makes so much sense. What easier way to reduce gang violence? Take away their trade. Or at least part of it. The news we keep hearing about Mexican drug cartels and murders on both sides of the border is just horrifying. Evidently these cartels are now expanding their reach, joining up with American gangs in every state. It's true they deal in all kinds of drugs, besides marijuana. (There’s another argument for staying off drugs: Just say no and undermine the gangs.) But dealing in marijuana is clearly big business.
There are a lot of sensible arguments for legalizing marijuana, as supporters of Proposition 19 will tell you. Besides taking business from drug traffickers, this measure will save enforcement resources and generate revenue from taxes and fees, while still ensuring public safety. Besides, marijuana is less toxic and less addictive than alcohol.
To be sure, I’m not advocating marijuana use. I’ve never used it (honest), and I don’t care to. But it’s already so prevalent in our culture, and so relatively harmless, that it seems ridiculous to outlaw it. Think of all the TV shows and movies showing people getting high—usually to great hilarity—from Cheech and Chong to 9 to 5 to That '70s Show. Think of all the song references (in the Beatles alone). Think of every other person you knew in college.
For some more amusement, here’s a video parody in support of legalization.
And I agree. Legalize it, regulate it, tax it.
If you live in California, vote for it! The rest of the country is sure to follow—eventually.