While the ethics of this can go both ways, it is a controversial proposal at all levels. The bill would create a more controlled environment for marijuana, and stop the war against drugs, at least on the marijuana front. Lets review how that war on drugs is going for a second. It is wasting taxpayer dollars on failed marijuana prohibition in California, it is putting a disproportionate number of minorities in prisons, and costs taxpayers billions in law enforcement efforts and prison related expenses. Legalizing marijuana gives the state more income from marijuana taxes, similar to that of alcohol. How is that alcohol thing doing, by the way. It is still a problem, and will be a problem until we perish as a species I imagine, as there will always be those whom are prone to substance abuse of any kind. The organizers at MADD are opposed to proposition 19 due to the fact that it will allow drivers to be able to smoke pot up to the moment they get in their cars and drive, thus, endangering the safety of the public. It also may jeopardize 9.4 billion in school funding, billions in federal contracts, and thousands of jobs. Of course this is opposes by the California Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, Firefighters and District Attorneys.
I do not have all the facts about funding, loss of contracts, and jobs, and that would be a big problem if that were the case. It will, however, if it passes, weaken the drug cartels, generate billions in revenue, and save taxpayer money. Criminal penalties will be enforced if anyone is caught distributing marijuana to anyone under the age of 21, and they will enforce road and workplace safety rules.
The current law is that the possession and/or cultivation of marijuana for personal use and commercial marijuana-related activities are illegal, unless under the states current medical marijuana laws. The passing of proposition 19 means that anyone over the age of 21 may, under state law possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. Also, the state and local authorities can authorize, regulate, and tax commercial marijuana related activities under certain conditions, however, any of these activities will remain illegal under federal law. So in essence, you could be legally okay to do so, but if the feds come in, they could bust you.
There is another issue at stake, and that would be Columbia’s drug laws. Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has stated that if Proposition 19 passes next week in California and marijuana is legalized in the state, it could force his country to rethink their drug policy. “Tell me if there is a way to explain to a Colombian peasant that if he produces marijuana we are going to put him in jail… [while] the same product is legal [in California]. That’s going to produce a comprehensive discussion on the approach we have taken on the fight against drug trafficking,” said Santos, who, a couple of months earlier, endorsed the call for a debate on drug legalization made by Mexican president Felipe Calderón. However, Santos has also said that he believes that legalization will increase drug consumption, a presumption that has been rebutted by evidence in countries with liberal drug policies such as Portugal.
These are legitimate concerns, and should be taken up in accordance with California Proposition 19. We should take a global look at our drug laws, primarily marijuana, and rethink the strategy globally, if not at the very least nationally. The drug wars have not gone so well, there are still plenty of drugs to be had. Drug cartels have taken over parts of Mexico just south of the border, and have corrupted many Mexican officials. Deaths and kidnappings are a daily occurrence everywhere over some drug related issues, whether it be turf, laws, money, or other issues. Legalization would be a way to curb some of that violence and control most of the problems from drugs. And no, we should not go about legalizing every illegal drug, but marijuana is something that we can do something about. It isn’t as dangerous or addictive as most other illegal drugs. If we take away some of the power from the cartels and their funding, that will be the ultimate way to wage war on them, not with our current strategy. This is a never ending war that we will ultimately never win, due to human nature. Those that desire the drugs will ultimately get them, and those that want to traffic in them will always do so, no matter how many laws we make, or how many cops we have, or what the consequences are.
So the bottom line here is this, California Proposition 19 will either be a wake up call to the rest of the nation and world to review their drug policies and will be a good thing for most of us, or it will create more financial stress and more problems in an already overburdened state. We can all help in this matter and encourage drug reform debates elsewhere, and really make a difference in the war on drugs without spending billions and risking the lives of many in the process, and also help our brothers and sisters in California so they won’t have to bear the burden of this alone. Peace my friends!