Half baked, half legal: California’s smoky new bill

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By Corinne Love / Senior staff assistant

Giving light to Mary Jane (Stock.xchng)

By Corinne Love / Senior staff assistant

It’s time to rehash some old Californian stereotypes.

How about the stereotype that constantly plagues this state as a state of potheads, valley girls and surfers?

In November, one of those stereotypes will almost see the light of day, as California is on the path to legalizing marijuana.

If this bill is passed, California will be the first state to legalize marijuana for personal and profiteering usage.

Already, marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes, and one doesn’t have to go far in Los Angeles without seeing a marijuana clinic.

Under the initiative, anyone over the age of 21 or older would be allowed to “possess, share and transport up to an ounce for personal use and grow up to 25 square feet per residence or parcel. It would allow local governments, but not the state, to authorize cultivation, transportation and sale of marijuana to impose taxes to raise revenues” writes the Los Angeles times.

Like many issues, this one is split down the middle.

Some people think that the legalization of the plant will bring in revenue for the state as a tourist commodity.

Think of it this way, people from all over will flock to California to purchase marijuana. For instance in those “it’s great to be a Californian” commercials that run on local TV every ten minutes, the commercials could feature “did we mention you could buy pot here?” as an added perk. Don’t count on it though.

In this same breath, supporters consider that the legalization of marijuana can help California out of its stranglehold of a debt.

That’s a bit far-fetched. The deficit is so big now that the numbers seem made up, just allowing people to freely buy marijuana is not going to magically solve that problem. However, it could be a start. Already, Californian police spend a staggering amount policing and tracking down individuals who sell and consume marijuana.

That money could be then relegated to actual crimes that are pretty serious in comparison, like homicide and sexual assault.

Also, the legalization of marijuana could have an impact on the dangers of drug violence and Mexican cartels that are harming Mexican and American communities.

On the flip side of this issue, is the other group that believes legalizing the gateway drug will lead to, more drug use.

John Lovell, a Sacramento lobbyist for law enforcement groups, said that voters will reject many of the arguments in support of legalization. “Why on Earth would you want to add yet another mind-altering substance to the legal array?” he said.

There are plenty of mind-altering substances already on the market.

Through countless celebrities’ deaths, prescription pills have proven to be the deadliest of cocktails and those can be purchased over the counter.

To the chagrin of parents, marijuana is indeed a mind altering substance; however, on the same token very few reports have actually been published in which people have overdosed on marijuana.

Pop cultural stereotypes aside, the many problems associated with marijuana usage come at the expense of the user, and unlike the harder designer drugs that can completely destroy a life like Crystal Meth, Ketamine, Cocaine and Heroin, marijuana, Mary Jane, “pot” is nowhere near as dangerous.

This isn’t to say that marijuana as a drug does not create tension; on the contrary, young adults who are not able to handle the drug should plainly stay away from it.

Which is why the age on the bill is so important, like alcohol, it’s regulated for those 21 and over.

Furthermore, the bill also states that minors can’t use it and its consumption would be banned in public places, much like alcohol.

Some against the bill say it’s already bad enough dealing with drunken people on the street and the possibility of people under the influence could be a rather annoying combo.

Not to sound crude, but, legalized or not, people are still going to act ridiculous in public with or without an altered substance. Probably the biggest surprise in this development is that a sector of the marijuana community is against its legalization.

These opponents are against the taxation clauses.

If it is legalized, people who sell marijuana will practically lose the ability to price it as they see fit since it’s illegal. Its legalization will mean a price spike.

One has to consider the long term effects is it worth getting arrested and likely at the end paying an exorbitant fee or just paying the extra few dollars.

Another factor in this sticky situation is the slippery slope appeal.

Critics of the bill have gone on to question if California legalizes it, will the other states follow suit?

What would that mean for the nation? What does it mean for the war on drugs? Legalizing marijuana can be seen as a step in ‘decriminalizing’ it.

Personally the legalization of marijuana will do little to affect me. I don’t buy it and I don’t use it, but, I know that my vote counts and it will affect the person who does want it to be legal. I’m sure my situation is not singular, and many Californians will face a similar task come November.

The question is do we allow our personal attitudes towards the drug to influence our votes or do we look at all sides and weigh the pros and cons?

Either way, it’s reefer madness indeed.

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