Legal marijuana, death and taxes

By Chris Giglio

Opinions Editor

This November, a proposition to legalize recreational marijuana for those over 21 years of age will be put to vote in California. Proposition 19 has divided politicians, law enforcement officials and Californians. Those against the proposition stand by arguments we have all heard: marijuana is a gateway drug, it creates motivational problems and it will cause consumption to increase. There has been no hard evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug and in fact most experiments conducted on this matter seem to suggest otherwise.

Opponents who note the motivational problems related to marijuana might be onto something. I’ve spent too many days trying to convince my friends that throwing a football would be better than watching the DVD menu of Life, but this is hardly a reason to continue banning marijuana. We might as well be against marijuana usage because the obscene amount of food you eat contributes to obesity in the United States.

I fundamentally disagree with the argument that consumption will increase if marijuana is legalized. Los Angeles is the best example of why this not true. In this city the use of medical marijuana has become so liberal that it is effectively legal. In this environment there hasn’t been a dramatic increase in marijuana usage and I’ve even seen instances where consumption has declined due to the higher prices of medical stores.

Furthermore there are a number of opportunities California can capitalize on through this proposition. The first and easiest sell in a state that has a $19.1 billion deficit is the tax revenue that can be gained through legalization, according to USA Today. Potential tax revenue from marijuana is estimated at $1.4 billion dollars. The effectiveness of our police force would also rise significantly.

Right across the Bay from where I live, Oakland struggles with one of the highest murder rates in the United States. I’m sure police in Oakland would be happy to stop arresting thousands of people for minor possessions and divert those resources towards dealing with the serious problems they face.

The violence across our border is another compelling reason to legalize marijuana. The drug-cartel wars in Mexico, which have left over 20,000 dead, have been mainly caused by factions fighting over drug routes into the United States. Cutting off this lucrative market from these cartels would do the Mexican government, its civilians and the U.S. a favor.

Marijuana is a still a drug that, like alcohol, should be used with precaution, but prolonging a 73-year-old ban that has been completely ineffective puts our citizens in danger and just doesn’t make sense. Whether or not this proposition passes, states and the federal government should look at ways to responsibly decriminalize marijuana.

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