A full fourteen years after California decided cannabis could be used as medicine and ignited a national debate, the state is now likely to vote on whether to take a decisive step into drug liberalization. They are weighing up the possibility of legalizing the weed for fun and profit.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles election officials must turn in their count of valid signatures collected in the county on a statewide legalization initiative. The number is virtually certain to be enough to qualify the initiative for the November ballot, according to a tally kept by state election officials.That again will make California the focal point of the long-stewing argument over marijuana legalization, a debate likely to be a high cost brawl between adversaries.
Supporters will cite the obvious financial and social cost of enforcing pot prohibition and argue that marijuana is not as dangerous and addictive as tobacco or alcohol. Whilst opponents on the other hand will highlight marijuana-linked crimes, increasing teenage use and the harm the weed causes some smokers. But the debate also will play out against a cultural landscape that has changed substantially over the years, with marijuana moving from dark street corners to neon-lit suburban boutiques. In the months since the Obama administration ordered law enforcement agents to lay off dispensaries, hundreds have opened.
The measure’s supporters hope this dynamic will shift the debate, allowing them to persuade voters to replace prohibition with controlled sales that could be taxed to help California’s cities and counties.
California is not alone in weighing legalization. Several state legislatures have considered bills, and two other Western states may vote on initiatives. A campaign in Washington hopes to put a legalization measure on the November ballot. A Nevada measure being pushed for 2012 would allow retail stores.
In our opinion, prohibition is obviously not working, and if everyone who chooses to is smoking cannabis anyway then it makes sense that the government should make the money from it rather than criminals and undesirables. So many problems are caused by alcohol and legalisation and taxation of cannabis could go a long way to solving these both socially and economically. We’re gonna smoke anyway so they may as well tax it!