Friday, December 25, 2009

Should CA Legalize Marijuana?

The much-debated leaf

In a recent blog post, the LA Times' Steve Lopez describes an initiative that will likely make the Nov. 2010 ballot to allow cities and counties to legalize, tax, and regulate the sale of marijuana for those over age 21, and make it legal to possess an ounce and grow the plant for personal use statewide. Here's how this is related to planning. California is broke and has been for years. Supporters of this initiative claim it could raise $1.3 billion per year in new tax revenue and save costs related to police work and locking people up. When California is broke, it does things like reduce the amount that it pays to support public transit. A new $1 billion cut is in the works now, to attack the state's massive budget deficit.

Recall that the California Legislature is ruled by Democrats, but the state is ruled by Prop. 13, a 1978 voter initiative which requires a damn-near-impossible 2/3 vote to pass a statewide tax increase. Republicans don't have the votes to cut spending, and Democrats don't have the votes to raise taxes, so we get budget deficits, year after year.

Although many people are smoking now, legalizing pot will probably make it easier to get, thus raising the prospect of more people smoking and damaging their lungs. There are also driving under the influence issues to consider. On the other hand, marijuana's effects are not as severe as many other illegal drugs, and has effects similar to some legal ones, like tobacco and alcohol. Shouldn't adults have the freedom to smoke? Or will it lead to a slippery slope that isn't worth the financial gain?

Well, that's up to you, voter.

1 comment:

  1. Why is it that when considering a policy that would keep from needlessly imprisoning people, free up money for more productive uses in police work, expand civil liberties and greatly reduce if not eliminate drug violence, liberals focus on the chance to enact a new regressive tax?