California voters will be voting on whether or not to legalize marijuana this fall. Personally, I am split on this issue. For the most part, I think marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed. However, there is a small part of me that dreads this. For some reason, second hand marijuana smoke gives me a headache on the better days and a migraine on the worst days.
Will California lead the way into breaking the prohibition on pot? Will the federal government crack down and attack California citizens if Prop 19 does get passed? With so much going on here (including the Prop 8 fiasco), California citizens are once again in the spotlight. Where are you standing on this issue?
People on both sides of the marijuana legalization debate have strong feelings about Proposition 19, the California ballot initiative that promises to regulate, control and tax cannabis. But science and empirical research have been given short shrift in the discussion. That’s unfortunate, because the U.S. government has actually funded excellent research on the subject, and it suggests that several widely held assumptions about cannabis legalization actually may be inaccurate. When the total body of knowledge is considered, it’s hard to conclude that we should stick with the current system.
One important question is whether laws criminalizing marijuana have effectively reduced supply and use. It would appear from available data that they have not. Despite billions spent on anti-cannabis law enforcement and a 30% increase in the number of arrests in California since 2005, marijuana remains the most frequently used illegal drug. Nationally, an estimated $10 billion is spent each year enforcing marijuana laws, yet an ongoing study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has concluded that over the last 30 years, the drug has remained “almost universally available to American 12th-graders,” with 80% to 90% saying the drug is “very easy” or “fairly easy” to obtain.