Legalization of Marijuana in California
The history surrounding the legalization of marijuana can be traced back to the 30s when the Federal Bureau of Narcotics issued a statement regarding the negative effects of marijuana. This led to the ban of marijuana for all purposes it may serve such as medical, recreational and industrial (Bloom n.pag.). As the pharmaceutical industry grew in the U.S in 1900s other alternative cures such as marijuana used as a pain relief remedy were replaced by synthetic drugs. Hemp the industrial relative of marijuana was also phased out during the same period. It was used to make rope, clothing fiber and notably it provided the material on which the Declaration was drafted and signed. It was in the 70s that the National Organization for reform of Marijuana Laws made an upfront to legalize marijuana. The1961 International Single Convention Treaty placed marijuana in the same tier as LSD and Heroin (Bloom n.pag.). This level contained drugs with no medical use and created a strong abuse environment. The signing of this treaty took place under Nixon’s regime but after his impeachment several states rallied to legalize marijuana during Carter’s regime. During Regan’s “Just Say No” drug campaigns a surge in the use of cocaine with debilitating effects was experienced this led to the view that marijuana was a safer option. With the coming of the Clinton administration medical use of marijuana was advocated leading up to the proposition 215 which won in California and spread from then on. This led to the stocking up of local dispensaries with marijuana and even its edible forms for medical purposes (Bloom n.pag.). The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tried regulating the widespread use of marijuana by raiding outlets and taking in of patients. During the Obama administration medical use of marijuana was supported and justified. This led to reduced break-ins by the DEA and other law enforcement agencies (Bloom n.pag.).
In 2010 an ACT known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis otherwise known as Prop 19 was placed on the Nov 2nd California ballot. This scenario for taxing and regulating marijuana has failed before in different states but times are different now. The recession is shaping the ideologies of the public and the view is gaining wide acceptance since there is need for increased revenue (LA Times n.pag). The proposition 19 was geared towards the decriminalization of growing and possession of cannabis. This ACT was rejected by the voters although it was more of a close call with 46% voting for while 54% voted against (LA Times n.pag). The proponents have decided to push on with their quest to legalize marijuana. The legalizing efforts would have seen retailers obtaining licenses to enable them engage in the buying of marijuana from wholesalers and selling to their customers an ounce per client. This will also remove the requirement for a customer to present a letter from the doctor at the point of sale. The age requirement for the purchase of marijuana was 21 years when a person is considered old enough to make responsible choices (Lacey n.pag.).
There are several arguments put across by the proponents and the opposition groups in determining whether marijuana should be legalized or not. The right- wing American republicans form a large section of the opposition group. Politicians associated with this group cannot bear the perception of being viewed to have developed a shaky stance in the wake of marijuana legalization campaigns (LA Times n.pag). This perception will make them lose their political influence on the people and thus result into loss in support for their political ambitions. They base their arguments on researches done on the effects of marijuana a drug associated with mind-alteration coupled with addiction (Bloom n.pag.). The opposition groups also relate increased mechanical accidents to use of marijuana. They believe that most motor accidents occur under the influence of marijuana rather than from alcohol (Lacey n.pag). Marijuana has also been linked with reduced memory and some types of cancer such as throat cancer. The opposition groups also allege that the use of marijuana attracts criminal elements who seek to capitalize on the monetary gains that can be obtained from the dealing of marijuana. This increases the crime rates and violence in an area thus exposing people to risks associated with these activities (Lacey n.pag). Marijuana is also related to poor work performance according to the opposition group and thus reduced performance will translate to reduced revenues for the government. The opposition groups have also argued that marijuana can be used by the youth as a “gateway” drug where use or abuse of it will ultimately lead to exposure to other drugs such as cocaine, heroin and the likes through experimentation (Lacey n.pag).
The groups supporting the legalization of marijuana are made up of basically the left wing proponents and Libertarians. These groups seek to legalize marijuana and this includes its production, use, transport and its sale. The proponents have claimed that the arrest and imprisonment of marijuana users does not stop the addiction to the drug. They state that marijuana has led to the arrest of 900,000 people in 2008 and approximately 5% of the total happened in New York (Lacey n.pag.). The proponents argue that marijuana should be legalized to enable its control by the state. They confirm this by stating that the drug peddlers do not ask their customers for identification cards to ascertain their age and this has made access to marijuana much easier than alcohol and cigarettes for under ages (Lacey n.pag.). The proponents for the legalization of marijuana argued that the legalizing of marijuana would translate to reduced violence between the criminal cartels and thus reduce drug trade related deaths within the American borders and even beyond (Lacey n.pag.). The legalizing of marijuana would also allow the government to tax its use. This will enable the government and localities to develop revenue that will be used in the development of health services and meet the other needs. The Californian local economy is not doing well and the revenue from marijuana taxation would go a long way towards stabilizing the economy. The proponents to the legalization of marijuana have also stated facts from studies that marijuana is not responsible for death as compared to tobacco and alcohol which accounts for 440 000 deaths per year and 110,000 deaths per year respectively (Bloom n.pag.).
Although the proponents for the legalization of marijuana have brought forth strong arguments the risk and effects of marijuana are still too high and adverse for all people. The argument forwarded by the proponents about taxation of marijuana and its ability to create revenue for both the locals and the government is flawed. This is because the use of marijuana will ultimately lead to reduced performance by employees at the work place. These people will lack the ability to concentrate on their work thus leading to reduced output. The situations at the work place will in-turn lead to a low productivity, sales and taxes for the government and thus insufficient revenues. The advocates for legalization of marijuana also state that the arrest and imprisonment of the users does not stop their use of the drug but instead fill up our corrective facilities but they have left out that the arrests and imprisonment are meant to work as a corrective measure and also deter other people from engaging in the use and abuse of marijuana. The consequences of such activities are made clear by the law and this thus improving the chances of a teenager not to engage in the production, use or transportation of marijuana and instead concentrate more on things that will make the individual more productive such as education or exploiting their talents. The criminal cartels are in the marijuana business because of money by legalizing it the cartels will not stop their operation. By legalizing marijuana the business angle and the money angle do not disappear and thus the cartels will continue doing business only this time they will be protected by the law and the violence will just escalate because of more competition.
Research has shown that marijuana is capable of altering people’s minds and is also highly addictive. In this state of mind marijuana users are highly likely to engage in criminal activities since they lose control of their thought process and become unreasonable and irresponsible. Families are made to use a lot of their resources in dealing with the addiction problem caused by abuse of marijuana. They suffer psychologically, financially and sometimes physically. They suffer psychologically from the stress associated by living with an addict who will go for months without anyone knowing where they are. Financial implication may range from bail out money in case they are arrested, rehabilitation fees and even loss and replacement of home equipments stolen by the addict to fund their addiction. Some of the physical implication may involve the addict’s violent behavior towards a member of the family or community they live in. People who use marijuana are highly likely to cause accidents when driving this is because they are unable to control their senses and thus ending up injuring or causing fatal accidents. Operating of heavy machinery becomes a risky activity if left to an individual under the influence since the likelihood of an accident occurring is quite high. The legalization of marijuana will lead to an increase in its use thus exposing the user to health risks such as throat cancer and lung diseases. The legalization also poses a risk to users who might use marijuana and expose themselves to other drugs which have more harmful effects.
America is currently struggling with effects of cigarettes, alcohol and hard drugs such as crack, heroin and the likes on its citizens. By legalizing marijuana we will be exposing the youth to risks which will hinder their development while reducing our capacity to deal with the problems caused by the other substances including marijuana.
“California’s Marijuana Legalization Debate.” LA Times., n.d. Web. 1 May 2012.
Bloom, Steve. “Legalization or Bust: A Brief History of Marijuana Prohibition.” Huff Post Politics., 28 Oct 2010. Web. 1 May 2012.
Lacey, Mark. “California Rejects Marijuana Legalization.” The New York Times., 3 Nov 2010. Web. 1 May 2012.