Why on Earth would you want to add yet another mind-altering substance to the legal array?” asked John Lovell, a lobbyist for law enforcement groups.

Uh, because a large number of Californians want to smoke it, and an even larger group want to see the state release its death grip on what people choose to put into their own bodies, John.

Momentum in the Air

According to the L.A. Times, state election officials are confident that the 433,971 petition signatures needed to put marijuana legalization on the November ballot will be more than met when L.A. County adds its own 142,246. The initiative only needed 15,000 more signatures. With L.A. County’s addition, the state will have about 127,000 more signatures than it needs.

The arguments—for and against—are so familiar we could probably recite them chapter and verse by now.

Pro: Legalization would cut the financial and social cost of prohibiting a substance that is less dangerous and addictive than alcohol and tobacco.

Con: Marijuana causes marijuana-related crime and physical harm to those who ingest the burning weed. Also, marijuana use by teenagers is on the rise.

Opponents Desperately Need New Material

“Marijuana-related crime?”  What does that mean, exactly?  The selling, growing and smoking of an illegal substance, I guess.  Though it’s been a while since I took Logic in college, I’m pretty sure that circular argument is crushed by the weight of its own fallacies.

Or are they referring to driving while high on the stuff?  We already have very strict and popular laws against driving under the influence of any substance that impairs driving.

If their “crime” refers to money stolen to purchase the insanely expensive stuff, well, it seems to me that legalization and controlled distribution of marijuana in the competitive marketplace would likely exert downward pressure on the price, and kick in a load of much needed tax revenue for California.

Physical harm? At least this one makes some sense (inhaling tars and such), but the physical harm argument can be applied to Big Macs and Twinkies as well—two items that, as far as I know, continue to be manufactured, sold and used by people without fear of going to prison.

As for teenage reefer madness: It is easier for a kid to find a pot dealer at school than an art teacher these days.  How would the legalization of marijuana–which would expressly outlaw sales to minors–make things any worse?

Full Disclosure

I do not have a dog in this fight.  My last social toke was some ten years ago, and I’m still working off the calories of both the Entenmann’s Pound Cakes I devoured that night.

Though I spent the first half of my professional life working in the drug-fueled rock & roll business, I never developed a taste for pot. Even the comparatively impotent stuff of yesteryear was enough to give me terminal dry-mouth, headaches, and a deep and abiding fear of everything. Audiences, hummingbirds, my left hand—all seemed to take on a certain menace when I was in the grip of that $10-per-lid devil-drug.

However, through the bad breath and terror, I did recognize the pleasurable aspect of the drug’s effect from time to time, and understood why some people — people far better adjusted than I — might enjoy it.

Prohibition

My concern is prohibition itself—the state’s totalitarian chutzpah of determining what one may or may not put into his or her body. We tried that with alcohol a few decades ago and got a thriving underworld and thousands of deaths by bathtub gin in return.

There seem to be two main groups actively supporting marijuana prohibition: The Moralists (thou shalt not do anything I don’t do) and the more formidable, well-heeled Prohibition Sluts–the ones who have gotten rich from the continued ban on the drug: Drug cartels, booze distilleries and prison guards unions, to name a few.

The cartels protest the decriminalization of marijuana (and any controlled substance) by their very existence; The end of pot prohibition would put a big dent in the revenue stream of los narcotraficantes.

The other Sluts, whose investment in drug prohibition continues to pay handsome dividends, take the more traditional route of politician purchase and public relations.  But, the longer and louder they protest against common sense decriminalization, the weaker their arguments seem to be.

Inalienable Right

Some of my good chums use pot a lot.  Though I don’t understand how they’re able to do it without diving into bed and pulling the covers over their heads, smoking it should be their inalienable right, whenever they choose, for whatever reason–medical, spiritual or just plain old fun.

Judging by the tally of signatures,  I’m not the only Californian who feels that way.

*

As always, for the best information on this subject and other drug policy issues, visit the Drug Policy Alliance and NORML

Click the “Sign me up” button on the left for email alerts of Buchanan’s latest screeds

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Comments
  1. m says:

    Mr. Lovell neglects to mention he is the senior registered lobbyist for the California Prison Guard’s union. That’s right, Mr. Lovell is the guy
    who has become rich by throwing innocent humans behind bars.

    The overcrowded prison population in California has mad Mr. Lovell a very rich man and he wants to keep it that way. He couldn’t care less about California’s children. In fact, every time our children, or their parents or anyone you love goes to jail, Mr. Lovell laughs all the way to the bank.

    Like

  2. ppp says:

    Marijuana was criminalized through racism, yellow journalism, and corrupt politics. Hopefully its legalization will put a nice dent in the corrupt alcohol & tobacco companies’ revenues, and help keep harmless people out of overcrowded prisons.

    Like

  3. Dizzle says:

    http://sensiblewashington.org/

    Sensible Washington is a political committee dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition in Washington State and to enacting sensible civil regulation of marijuana in Washington State. Sensible Washington is sponsor of a proposed initiative for the November 2010 General Election that would remove criminal penalties from the adult use, possession and cultivation of marijuana in Washington State. Petitions for initiative 1068 are being circulated now.

    Like

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