Most Californians now agree that we should legalize marijuana to help solve these crises. Legalization wouldn’t substantially increase the availability of marijuana, since the Federal Drug Administration reports that 80% of American high school seniors already have easy access to the drug. We also know that legal regulation is safer and more effective than criminalization-- liquor stores have cut down teen alcohol consumption far more than police enforcement has reduced marijuana use. Parents should be comforted by the fact that stores legally selling marijuana to adults would put drug dealers out of business.
The editors of the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and San Francisco Bee say Proposition 19 is the wrong way to legalize marijuana. Local governments may create inefficient marijuana tax systems (we’d still save billions of dollars). Prop 19 would bring California totally out of line with federal drug policy (that’s the point). Your office will be full of “on-the-job smokers” (this is false, marijuana would be treated like alcohol in the workplace). They argue that we should wait until 2012 to legalize marijuana. The Chronicle also warns against “the stench and potential height of marijuana plants.”
I will vote YES on Proposition 19. These editors have forgotten that if we wait four more years, California’s drug dealers will earn $56 billion, California police will arrest three million people for marijuana possession (8% of our state’s population), and another 28,000 people will die in the drug war we have exported to Mexico. Marijuana has never been legalized before, so it’s natural to be worried about the consequences. Opponents of Prop 19 demonize the uncertainties as if we should feel safer with the status quo. But we cannot forget that Prop 19's minor flaws and uncertainties are insignificant compared to the cost of four more years of our destructive marijuana policies. Please don’t be afraid to vote for change this Tuesday.