Pubdate: Sun, 10 Jan 2010
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Page: 5E
Copyright: 2010 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Paul Armentano
Note: Paul Armentano is the deputy director of the National 
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML). He lives in Vallejo.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


On Tuesday, members of the state Assembly will vote on California
marijuana policy. The Public Safety Committee will vote on Assembly
Bill 390, the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act, which
seeks to regulate and control the production, distribution, and
personal use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older.

Tuesday's vote will mark the first time since 1913, when California
became one of the first states in the nation to impose criminal
cannabis prohibition, that lawmakers have reassessed this failed policy.

It is high time that they do.

Only by enacting state and local legislation on the use, production
and distribution of marijuana, can state and local governments
effectively impose controls regarding:

.  Which citizens can legally produce marijuana;

.  Which citizens can legally distribute marijuana;

.  Which citizens can legally consume marijuana; and

.  Where, and under what circumstances, is such use legally

By contrast, the prohibition of marijuana provides California law
enforcement and state regulators with no legitimate market controls.

This absence of state and local government controls jeopardizes,
rather than promotes, public safety.

For example: Prohibition abdicates the control of marijuana production
and distribution to criminal entrepreneurs (e.g., drug cartels, street
gangs, drug dealers who push additional illegal substances).

Prohibition provides young people with unfettered access to marijuana
(e.g., according to a 2009 Columbia University report, adolescents now
have easier access to marijuana than they do alcohol).

Prohibition promotes the use of marijuana in inappropriate and
potentially dangerous settings (e.g., in automobiles, in public parks,
in public restrooms, etc.).

Prohibition promotes disrespect for the law and reinforces ethnic and
generation divides between the public and law enforcement (e.g.,
according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 75 percent of all marijuana
arrestees are under age 30; African Americans account for only 12
percent of marijuana users, but make up 23 percent of all possession

AB 390 features fiscally conservative, common sense proposals that
seek to raise revenue, promote public safety and limit the access that
young people have to marijuana. These are goals that lawmakers and the
public ought to support.

It's time to end 90-plus years of marijuana prohibition with a policy
of legalization, taxation, regulation and education.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake