Legalizing Cannabis in California
In November, 2010, the State of California will be adding an initiative to the ballot to legalize marijuana. If the measure passes, California will become the first state to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for general use. Currently, California has instituted measures to allow the use of medical marijuana. As well, since 1975, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana has been a misdemeanor that is accompanied by a $100 fine.
If the ballot to legalize cannabis passes, it would mean California residents could grow limited amounts of marijuana, and local governments would have the option to permit the sale of marijuana in retail outlets. Known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, the November 2010 ballot includes the following measures:
1. Adults 21 years and older will be legally permitted to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use.
2. Adults will be permitted to grow their own marijuana plants on a plot up to 5 feet by 5 feet per home or land parcel.
3. Counties and cities in California will be legally permitted to tax the cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana.
This November 2010 ballot measure comes with its share of controversy. There are opponents and proponents lining up on each side of the issue. Proponents of the measure make the following arguments:
1. There are financial benefits to legalizing marijuana in the state of California. Taxing marijuana would bring a considerable amount of revenue. Many experts, including California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, estimate over a billion dollars a year in revenue which would help California’s budget crisis. Also, many experts estimate that $8 billion would be saved annually in government spending on enforcement which includes border security.
2. Legalizing marijuana has a number of law enforcement benefits. Law enforcement officers will be able to focus on serious crimes. The costs of law enforcement would be greatly reduced. The courts would not be tied up with marijuana cases. The overcrowded prison population would decline. Crime and violence at the U.S.-Mexico border would be reduced. The lives of youth would not be ruined because they would not receive a permanent criminal record and prison time if they were caught with marijuana.
3. Many health experts say marijuana is not anymore detrimental to a person’s health than tobacco or alcohol. As well, marijuana has been shown to benefit patients with such conditions Cancer, AIDS, and Glaucoma.
Most opponents of the November 2010 ballot measure argue on the basis of their own personal moral beliefs. They believe the use of marijuana is immoral. Others argue that there are long term health consequences when using marijuana and it can also lead to more people moving to more hardcore drugs.
No matter how you view the issue, one thing most people can agree on is that marijuana is here to stay in American society. It would seem that those reflecting on which way to vote on the measure in November should look at both arguments and decide which one makes the most sense. It is also helpful to look at various cannabis websites such as CannabisSearch.com.