Jenny EriksonIn less than two weeks, California voters will have an opportunity to legalize marijuana (at least at the state level) for recreational use. If passed, proposition 19 would allow the state to regulate and tax the drug, which could be sold to adults ages 21 and up.
The arguments for prop 19 are fairly straightforward. It would generate massive amounts of money to put toward things like parks, schools, public safety, and bloated pensions for government employees. It would put police priorities in order, since hundreds of millions of dollars would no longer be spent arresting non-violent pot smokers.
Maybe the biggest argument for legalizing marijuana is that it would cut off funding to violent drug cartels across the border.
The arguments against prop 19 are clear-cut as well: We're talking about legalizing a mind-altering, gateway drug. What's next? Heroin? Coke? Are we headed down the proverbial slippery slope?
The libertarian streak in me wants to legalize pot. At first glance, I like the points for passing the proposition. Not to mention that I'm all about the personal freedom to make our own decisions, for better or for worse.
Upon further examination, I don't like what I see in the legislation. I'm one of those crazy Tea Party people who actually thinks you should read a bill before voting on it, so read it and read about it I did.
It turns out that while pot sales would be taxable, it would be left up to each city or county to design its own system of regulation and taxation. Furthermore, dealers would not be required to pay the taxes to the state, because marijuana sales are still illegal at the federal level, and the Fifth Amendment protects us from self-incrimination.
Prop 19 would create a ‘legal quagmire' for employers across the state, as well as threaten public safety. There is no definition for what constitutes being under the influence of marijuana in the legislation. While smoking a joint on the job or behind the wheel is or could be prohibited, there is nothing preventing someone from lighting up before operating heavy machinery.
I even had one conservative friend say she would vote against the pot prop because it would kill the free (drug) market, wiping small sellers off the map and out of business. You know that we right-wingers love our free markets!
On a completely personal note, I think the best argument against legalizing weed is that California voters are already boneheaded enough. After all, we've been voting Barbara ‘Call Me Ma'am' Boxer to the Senate for over two decades. We're also responsible for Nancy Pelosi and one of the only true RINOs around -- Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Maybe this whole thing is a moot point anyway. Our farmers can't even get any water to their crops. Not even cannabis can grow without a little H2O.
What do you think? Should pot be legalized?