Pubdate: Mon, 26 Apr 2010
Source: Daily Bruin (UCLA, CA Edu)
Copyright: 2010, ASUCLA Student Media
Author: Jake Greenberg


Supporters of Act Are Generally Younger Voters, but Personal Beliefs 
Are an Important Factor

Marijuana remains a controversial issue in the minds of American 
voters, and it may require a joint effort by Republicans and 
Democrats to make California the first state to legalize cannabis for 
recreational use.

A third of Americans across the country support legalizing marijuana, 
but the majority still oppose it, according to a recent poll by the 
Associated Press.

California alone, however, is a different story.

Voters will decide in November if anyone more than 21 years old can 
possess up to an ounce or grow up to 25 square feet of marijuana for 
personal use. A poll released on Tuesday by SurveyUSA revealed 56 
percent of Californians believe marijuana should be legalized for 
recreational use.

Women, people more than 65 years old and Republicans were most likely 
to be opposed to the measure.

"Though we believe in limited government, (many Republicans) see 
marijuana as so bad, and the issue so important ... that the laws 
that exist should be heavily enforced," said Andrew Kreitz, Bruin 
Republicans chairman and a fourth-year business economics student.

But a group does exist within Bruin Republicans that supports 
legalization, Kreitz said.

With a strong libertarian base, he said Bruin Republicans are not 
categorically opposed to legalizing marijuana.

Some of the benefits Republicans see from decriminalizing cannabis 
are reducing violence from drug trafficking across California's 
southern border and tax revenue, Kreitz said.

"People have to consider the social cost (of legalizing marijuana). 
.. Pot is simply not good for you," he said.

This contrasts with the 74 percent of Americans who believe marijuana 
has medical benefits for certain conditions.

Democrats are also divided on the prospect of legalization, said 
Rebecca Barrett, external vice president of Bruin Democrats. The 
issue is potentially good because it leads to political interest 
among students, who are especially active in the debate, she said.

There is no official position for Democrats, and members of the party 
lean either way based on their personal beliefs, Barrett said.

"We should be focusing on larger issues like the environment and 
health care reform, but if we see even a 5 percent increase in 
students turning out to vote because of this, then it's a good 
thing," she said.

But the issue is not so ambiguous for some people. Los Angeles 
County's District Attorney Steve Cooley released a statement on April 
19 detailing his opposition to the November bill. The measure lacks a 
means for the state to regulate and tax marijuana, according to the statement.

"This is a bad initiative that will create tremendous harm and no 
good at all," Cooley said in a statement.

The controversy surrounding the legalization of marijuana will not be 
put to rest in November, but the measure is sure to be a significant 
step depending on voters' decisions
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake