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Legalizing Marijuana Not Really A Dopey Idea

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Who knows, in the near future, on a Friday night after a tough week of work, those so inclined could legally fire up a joint.

And who knows, by California allowing that, some of this might happen:

A) The tax base gets a much-needed bump.

B) Cops can chase real bad guys, not recreational pot smokers.

C) The medical marijuana farce goes up in smoke because the drug can be had legally. (A lot of bad backs? Mysteriously cured!)

D) And another possible consequence: Prisons would have more room to house society’s worst criminals, particularly violent sex offenders.

The proposed Chelsea’s Law includes a one-strike penalty against those who commit forcible sex crimes against children. It’s named for Poway teenager Chelsea King, killed by convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III.

There’s one problem, though. Prisons are jammed.

So is it time to take the bold step and legalize marijuana, which might help ease the problem? Momentum for it is growing.

A referendum will be on the November ballot, permitting personal use of the drug for those 21 and over. Cities or counties could allow for its sale and tax it. (Or not, it’ll be up to them.) It’ll also be OK for people to grow small amounts of it.

“It would free up prison spaces for really, really bad guys,” said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Granted, California’s prisons are not overflowing with marijuana criminals. Only about 1,630 — or 1 percent — are serving time for either having significant amounts of marijuana, selling the drug or cultivating it.

But 1,630 spaces are 1,630 spaces. (Enjoy one, John Gardner.) By comparison, there are 2,446 inmates — or 1.4 percent — serving time for rape.

Right now, it seems as if a lot of people were smoking something when crafting the current marijuana laws.

Go to a medical marijuana storefront. When I did, I saw mostly young people, um, in pain. It’s easy to get a doctor’s approval for medical marijuana. You don’t have to have something horrible like cancer. Insomnia will do. And who can sleep well in these times?

The San Diego City Council is wrestling with how to regulate medical marijuana storefronts because they started popping up more, particularly after the Obama administration said it wasn’t going to attack those operating under state guidelines.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has raided a number of medical marijuana providers over the years, claiming they were selling the drug illegally. But convictions have been tough to get of late. In two recent cases, the operators were acquitted, with jurors complaining that the state laws are unclear.

The trials took weeks.

How much is all of that costing us? Well, don’t stop counting. The DA’s office said it’s not giving up when it comes to trying to convict an operator it thinks is more Cheech & Chong than Dr. Welby.

The police are also cracking down. In 2008, the most current year for statistics, 78,000 marijuana arrests were made statewide. About four-fifths were for small amounts of marijuana — less than an ounce. It’s a misdemeanor, so you don’t get jail time, but it’s on your record.

These misdemeanor arrests have been skyrocketing, jumping 127 percent from 1990 to 2008. While cops are going like gangbusters against pot smokers, they’re not doing so well when it comes to violent criminals. In 1999, the statewide clearance rate for violent crimes was 50 percent.

In 2008, it was 43.5 percent.

“One of the best reasons for doing this is it allows for the reallocation of law enforcement,” said Quintin Mecke, spokesman for San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who has introduced legislation to legalize marijuana for those over 21.

If it’s made legal, it’s also goodbye to the black market’s near-total control of the sale and distribution of it, Mecke said. And some of the crime associated with that, including violent turf wars in Mexico, will drop.

If government controlled and taxed it, the possible revenue could be around $1.3 billion, Ammiano’s office has estimated.

Some, of course, question all of this. Legalizing marijuana is no silver bullet, said Dana Stevens of the El Cajon-based Communities Against Substance Abuse. If the marijuana is taxed, how in the world can that price compete against what a street dealer charges, she asked.

Her biggest concern, though, is how it affects young people. “What’s it telling them?”

If marijuana weren’t so accessible now, such arguments might be more compelling.

A Field Poll last year showed that 56 percent of Californians support legalizing the drug, so it’s not a, um, pipe dream.

And if Chelsea’s Law becomes a reality, we, as a society, have to make choices.

Or build more prisons.

NewsHawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: signonsandiego.com
Author: Michael Stetz
Copyright: 2010 The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC
Contact: Contact Us - SignOnSanDiego.com
Website: Legalizing marijuana not really a dopey idea - SignOnSanDiego.com

• Thanks to MedicalNeed for submitting this article


New Member
"Her biggest concern, though, is how it affects young people. “What’s it telling them?” "
That's her biggest concern? How about a kid trying pot gets busted and then can not got to schools of higher learning, grants are not available, the money it costs for court and piss testing and all the other bull the courts put cannabis smokers through. How about getting beat up by gung-ho cops looking for quick arrests? how about getting raped in Jail? How about the even stronger drugs available IN JAIL(if they can not keep them out of prison, what makes you think it can be controlled out in the real world?), if they get busted, they have a REAL chance of getting screwed for life.
All that over a weed! Now can you please repeat your biggest concern? ;-)


New Member
I'd much rather hear "dad is stoned and vegging in front of the TV with mom" rather than "dad is drunk and beating on mom, and I'm next".
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