Pubdate: Fri, 20 Oct 2006
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2006 The Times-Herald
Author: Gerald Clift


Here is why Solano County should tax and regulate marijuana:

Regulation of marijuana would reduce organized crime and access to 
adolescents, just as the regulation of alcohol has. Teens report they 
have easier access to marijuana than they have to either alcohol or 
tobacco, according to a national survey released in 2002 by the 
national Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia 
University. The results marked the first in the survey's history that 
adolescents said it was easier to buy cannabis than cigarettes or alcohol.

Marijuana is safer to both the user and the community than alcohol.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice-Bureau of Justice and 
Statistics, 40 percent of those convicted of homicide had been under 
the influence of alcohol at the time of their offense. The national 
highway traffic administration has concluded that 47.4 percent of all 
highway deaths involved a driver intoxicated by alcohol. Marijuana 
users, however, have "the same or lower incidence of murders, highway 
deaths, and accidents than the general non-smoking population as a 
whole," according to a study at UCLA. Even more interesting is that 
despite the thousands of deaths from alcohol overdose annually, there 
has not been a single reported case of anyone dying from marijuana use.

Solano County is behind other counties and California is behind other 
states on marijuana reform. Several states have issued a tax on 
marijuana for $3.50/gram, including Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, 
Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, 
Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, 
Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. California counties, including Santa 
Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Santa Monica, currently have initiatives to 
be voted on in November that require no money be spent prosecuting 
marijuana offenses similar to Oakland's Measure Z.

Otherwise law-abiding adults in Solano County are more likely to be 
targeted for non-violent marijuana offenses than counties in states 
that have taxed and regulated it. Marijuana arrests and funding for 
those arrests are steadily increasing, with 785,545 people arrested 
in 2005 (more than twice the arrests of 1993), according to the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation's Annual Uniform Crime Report. Even 
worse, the report stated that 42.6 percent of all U.S. drug arrests 
were for marijuana, refuting previous claims that minor marijuana 
offenses aren't targeted in the drug war.

Marijuana is not addictive. Unlike tobacco and heroin, which 
reportedly both have a 75 percent chance of relapse after quitting, 
complete with withdrawal symptoms, marijuana creates no physical 
dependency. It is no more habit-forming than playing video games or 
drinking tea.

Legalization would generate needed money to our budget. Harvard 
Economist Jeffery Miron estimates in his report "Budgetary 
Implications of Marijuana Prohibition" (signed by more than 500 
economists) that $96.3 million would be generated annually from tax 
revenue in California alone if marijuana were legalized.

The alcohol prohibition didn't work and marijuana's prohibition isn't 
working. The current laws mislead people into believing marijuana is 
worse than alcohol. People will always drink and people will always 
use marijuana, so why is it that those choosing to leisure with a 
safer substance are the ones being thrown behind bars? Other counties 
are doing it and we can do it too by informing our district 
representatives and telling them it's time for Solano's laws to make sense.

Gerald Clift, Vacaville 
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