Thursday, July 1, 2010

Will California Dreaming Become a Reality?

Looks like California has put an initiative to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis on the ballot for November 2010.  It now has a number:  Proposition 19 (the same number as the last time a legalization initiative was put on the ballot, in 1972). The initiative, though somewhat flawed, has a decent chance of passing. A whopping 56% of Californians support legalization, as do 53% of Americans overall, the highest in US history, though more recent polls have shown varying results.  And the state needs something to help plug their monstrous budget deficit--they are technically bankrupt.  Will "California Dreaming" finally become a reality?  We predict it will pass in 2010 since (unlike in 1972) they finally have a critical mass of supporters.  If any state can do it, California can.  But it will be a very close vote, with younger voters (especially under 25) being crucial to its passage.

America currently arrests over 800,000 people for pot each year, the majority of which are for possession, a victimless crime.  And it costs a ludicrous amount of money to do so.  The number of people arrested for destroying the Gulf of Mexico via the oil spill?  A big fat ZERO.

Recently, the California chapter of the NAACP has signed on as a supporter of Prop 19.  This is primarily because blacks are arrested at twice (or triple or even quadruple in some areas) the rate of whites for cannabis offenses, despite being less likely to toke up.  Clearly, blacks (and Latinos) are being targeted by the Drug Warriors, while whites who get busted are little more than collateral damage.  And let's not forget the racist history of how cannabis prohibition came to pass, with the first such laws aimed at Mexicans and later at blacks.

Opponents of the bill include the usual suspects:  MADD, police organizations, several church groups, and anti-drug organizations.  The feds can be considered in opposition as well.  There is probably not much that will convince the staunchest opponents to see the light.  However, not all cops are against legalization--there is even an organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) who sees what a failure drug prohibition has been and the harm it has caused.  They know that prohibition has brought only death, destruction, violence, corruption, and more dangerous drugs, and that it needs to end as soon as possible.
We at the TSAP endorse the initiative as a starting point, but notes that it is far from perfect.  For example, the age limit is 21 rather than 18, and several provisions appear to conflict somewhat with the Compassionate Use Act's protections of medical cannabis patients.  We believe that all legal adults (18 and over) have the right to do what they want to their own bodies as long as it does not harm others.  But those "wrinkles" can be ironed out later.  The sooner we legalize, the better.  And we hope other states will join California as well (already Oregon and Washington are considering it).  If enough states do so, that will eventually force the feds to reconsider and perhaps legalize at the federal level.  Plus, legalization would deal a major death blow to the drug cartels that terrorize Mexico and increasingly the United States as well.

As we stated before, we predict success, albeit by a narrow margin.  That is, as long as there is no "October Surprise" to scare the voters into voting no.  We cannot dismiss this possibility out of hand, as the anti-cannabis lobby (as well as the DEA and ONDCP) has been known to use junk science to scare people in the past.  Alaska and Nevada know this all too well.

The June Suprise, if one wishes to call it that, unsurprisingly was a bogus study that purported to show that traffic fatalities would skyrocket if cannabis was legalized, based loosely on data from 2004-2008, when California expanded its medical cannabis program that was first enacted in 1996.  However, this is easily debunked when you consider that, whether you use 1995, 1996, 2003, or 2004 as the base year, California's overall traffic fatalities per VMT actually declined, and at a faster rate than the nation as a whole.  Ditto for self-reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs as a whole from 2002-2009.  So much for being a menace to society. 

Oh, but what about the children?  As for teen use of cannabis, student surveys show that such use also declined since 1996 in California, again at a faster rate than the nation as a whole despite legalizing medical use (even for patients who are under 21).  Ditto for most other states that also legalized it.  So much for sending the wrong message.

The TSAP is not a "pro-drugs" party. Rather, we are pro-liberty and anti-tyranny. We do not endorse the use of any substances, including alcohol and tobacco, but believe that legal adults are sovereign in body and mind and that prohibition of these substances clearly does more harm than good. Remember, the term "controlled substance" is actually a misnomer since it is virtually impossible to adequately control that which is prohibited.

To all those who live in California (or any other state with legalization or medicalization initiatives on the ballot), especially those under 30:  Get out there and rock the vote this November!


Kids, talk to your parents.  Show them the following.

This is your country:

This is DrugWar:

This is your country on DrugWar:

Any questions?