Pubdate: Sun, 2 Aug 2009
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Record Searchlight
Author: Alana Marie Burke
Referenced: AB390
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Assembly Bill 390)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - California)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Regulation)


Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United 
States. It damages the lungs; impairs memory, concentration and 
motivation; and contains more carcinogens than cigarettes. However, 
California is economically in the tank, and this may be a boon for 
those who believe that smoking pot is "no big deal" and want 
marijuana legalized.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, has introduced Assembly 
Bill 390, which removes all criminal penalties for personal marijuana 
possession and cultivation for adults over age 21, allows persons 21 
or older to grow up to 10 mature plants, and makes possession and 
sales of marijuana paraphernalia legal for adults 21 and up.

According to Ammiano, efforts to eradicate marijuana have not 
succeeded, so it is time to bring "a major piece of our economy into 
the light of day."(0x00A0)In other words, if at first you don't 
succeed, give up. Other ballot initiatives in recent months indicate 
that California potheads have found their voice and, since the state 
needs money, lawmakers are listening.

If taxed like cigarettes and alcohol, marijuana could generate an 
estimated $100 million a year, with additional savings in law 
enforcement resources. These funds would ameliorate California's 
budget issues. However, when the smoke clears, the collateral damage 
from the government pimping dope will exceed the monetary benefits of 
retailing and taxing it.

California, fraught with inept government and a populace bent on 
pushing every sociopolitical limit, cannot afford to be dumbed down 
by legislators championing drug use to make a buck. The big question 
is not whether marijuana use for recreation is unhealthy and 
dangerous, which it is, but whether the right to do self-harm is a 
civil right and, if so, if all drugs should be legal for personal use.

One argument purports that drug use is a victimless crime; after all, 
the user is not necessarily recruiting or dosing others. Moreover, if 
we follow the Roe v. Wade model, people have the right to control 
their own body and should be able to alter their consciousness 
however they see fit. If marijuana is legalized, then this opens the 
door to all illicit drugs - there is no ideological difference 
between any of them even if the physical consequences vary.

No man is an island and the actions of one create a ripple effect. 
Drug use is an indolent way to alter or avoid reality, and abusers 
become less and less of a viable resource. Consequently, addicts 
become a drain on society, as individuals, employees, students and 
parents, and this makes them everybody's problem, especially in this 
new age of universal bailout.

The arguments for legalizing marijuana cite the legitimacy of alcohol 
and nicotine, the high rates of crime and the cost of enforcement 
caused by the prohibition of illicit drugs. Alcohol and nicotine 
abuse already exact a hefty medical, financial and sociological 
price. It is neither right nor necessary to endorse yet another 
substance that will create more addicts and further drain.

It is more than reasonable to enforce dealing and smuggling laws and 
continue to discourage drug use. If this were not the case, then why 
does Assembly Bill 390 contain a hypocritical clause levying a 
$50/ounce excise tax earmarked for state drug education and treatment 
programs? A percentage of the taxes on cigarettes and alcohol fund 
drug and alcohol education. Promoting a new drug, so that it can be 
taxed, so that the taxes can be used to discourage the drug use is 
just asinine.

Marijuana is medically useful in alleviating pain and certain medical 
conditions. However, board-certified physicians, not yahoos with 
Kool-Aid stands writing "prescriptions," should regulate dispensing - 
in pill or inhalant form. Neighbors with their prescriptions, pot 
farms, uncut pit bull "pets" and multitudes of "friends" are blights 
on any community.

It is right to continue the war on drugs, even when the costs are 
high. It is illogical to expect to win it completely, but the fight 
is a worthy one. It is absurd to take the low road and promote a drug 
known to distort perceptions, impair coordination and adversely 
impact memory and learning. As Jefferson Airplane said in their song 
"White Rabbit," "When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead .. 
Keep your head!" 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake