Pubdate: Tue, 22 Mar 2016
Source: Modesto Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Modesto Bee
Author: Gavin Newsom
Note: Gavin Newsom is the Lieutenant Governor of California and 
served as Chair of California's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy.


"War on Drugs" Has Failed, Costing US Billions of Dollars

If We Want Use to Be Healthy, Safe We Have to Regulate Weed

This Is Not a Short-Term Process; Our Laws Will Evolve Over Years

Increasingly, Californians understand the war on drugs has been an 
abject  and expensive  failure.

Today, we incarcerate too many Americans for non-violent drug crimes, 
while too few resources are available for effective treatment and 
prevention. Since drug dealers don't card, youth are often more 
likely to have access to marijuana than they are alcohol or tobacco.

Given the high cost and ineffectiveness of the status quo, you don't 
have to be "pro-marijuana" to be "anti-prohibition."

Simply put, we need a smarter approach.

By establishing a legal, taxed and tightly regulated system, we can 
offer new protections for our kids, our communities and our 
environment, while adopting a best-practices framework for 
responsible adult marijuana use and its impacts. We can also raise 
much-needed revenues to expand drug treatment and prevention 
programs, and protect our public lands from the environmental and 
water impacts of illegal marijuana grows.

Since announcing my support for a new approach to the responsible 
adult use of marijuana, I've been focused on bringing an 
unprecedented coalition of stakeholders to the table and making sure 
California develops new public policy the right way.

That's why I convened the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy 
in 2013  to look at the best thinking and best practices from 
academics and leading voices from public safety, public health and 
communities around the state to make sure any transition to 
legalization protects children and ensures public safety.

Four states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize adult 
marijuana use, and each offers important lessons for California. But 
there are circumstances unique to our state that require any policy 
to take a California-specific approach.

Last year, the Commission released its report with a series of 
recommendations and best practices for proponents to consider as 
various ideas were being discussed. While the report did not endorse 
any specific legalizative proposal, it set clear guidelines for what 
a responsible and cost-effective policy would be.

First and foremost, all legal and regulatory decisions around 
legalization should be made with a focus on protecting California's 
youth and promoting public health and safety.

A successful marijuana framework would also reduce the size of the 
black market, offer legal protection to good actors who strive to 
work within the law, and raise enough revenue to provide resources 
for substance-abuse treatment, education, public safety and 
environmental protection.

I believe the California Adult Use of Marijuana Act  which has been 
endorsed by groups as diverse as the NAACP, the California Medical 
Association and the California Council of Land Trusts  achieves all 
of these objectives and I will be urging voters to support it this November.

Passing this consensus initiative will put California on a path 
toward reasonable and responsible legalization of adult use of 
marijuana, and sets up a regulatory framework that will allow state 
and local officials to protect public health, public safety and the 

But it's important for Californians to understand that passing AUMA 
is just the first step in the process of regulating adult use of 
marijuana for non-medical purposes. (Medical use of marijuana was 
legalized in California in 1996.)

It will be a process that unfolds over many years requiring sustained 
engagement from law enforcement, regulators and the public to ensure 
it is implemented properly in a way that best serves California.

AUMA strikes the right balance, setting in place strong protections 
for the public while allowing enough flexibility for regulators to 
tweak the marijuana market to make sure our kids and communities are safe.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom