A Look At the Impact of Proposition 19 – Legalization of Marijuana

prop-19Last summer I went on police ridealongs, first with the Davis Police Department and the next night with the Woodland police department.  Both nights we encountered individuals in respective parks in possession of marijuana.  In both cases the police took the marijuana from the individuals without issuing a citation.

In one of the vehicles there was a huge collection of extravagant pipes.  In one case there was a pipe that looked like a gas mask, going completely over one’s face as they took the smoke in.

In both cases, the officers explained to me in their own words that they were not fans of marijuana laws. They did not view people who smokes marijuana as a threat to public safety. They said that the cost of administering a citation was actually higher than the fine in the citation.  In short, as long as the individuals involved were honest and otherwise not committing crimes, they would not enforce the state’s marijuana laws.

In many places in California, small quantities of marijuana are already legal.  Complicating matters are medical marijuana laws.  For example, on Thursday I was in Judge Kathleen White’s Yolo County Courtroom just observing the regular calendar. There was a case represented by Jeffrey Raven, who is one of the publicly-appointed conflict attorneys.  In this case, it had been determined and verified by a doctor that the individual rightfully was a recipient of medical marijuana.

Based on that info, the case was dismissed.  After dismissing the case, Mr. Raven politely asked if they could “have the unlawfully seized” pause, “medicine returned.”  Apparently that will require a separate motion.

As amusing as that exchange may have been, it does not seem worthy of either the court’s time or law enforcement’s to try to determine whether one’s marijuana is for medicinal purposes.  This November, Californians will get to decide whether individual communities can determine whether this is an appropriate use of law enforcement, DA, and court resources.

According to a release from the ACLU of Northern California on July 22, 2010, “Enforcement of marijuana prohibition consumes a great deal of California’s law enforcement and court system resources, and has a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Proposition 19 would allow adults age 21 and older to possess and grow small amounts of their own marijuana for personal use, and would allow cities and counties to regulate and tax commercial sales. Unless individual cities and counties enact local regulatory structures, marijuana sale would remain illegal under state law.”

As we discussed yesterday, enforcement of drug laws are not uniform.  Instead, people of color are disproportionately the targets of marijuana related arrests.  According to the ACLU and the Drug Policy Alliance, “In 2008, California police made 60,000 marijuana possession arrests, the majority of them young men of color. The arrests, however, do not indicate actual marijuana usage. A new report from the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) reveals distinct racial disparities in California arrests for low-level marijuana possession. Data in the report reveal that African Americans in California are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, but more white youth use marijuana than black youth.”

“California makes tens of thousands of arrests each year for simply possessing small amounts of marijuana. These arrests overload our already stressed courts and jails and divert scarce public safety dollars that could be used to address violent crime,” said Kelli M. Evans, associate director at the ACLU of Northern California.

“The significant racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests have serious consequences, for young men of color in particular. The impact of a misdemeanor conviction for marijuana possession creates barriers in finding a house, a job, and even a school loan,” said Ramona Ripston, ACLU/SC executive director.

“Proposition 19 is smart policy that would regulate and tax marijuana for adults, just like alcohol and tobacco,” said Kevin Keenan, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

Fiscal Impact

The question then is how much money would the elimination of such laws create?

The California Legislative Analysts Office analyzed the potential fiscal impacts.  They write, “Many of the provisions in this measure permit, but do not require, the state and local governments to take certain actions related to the regulation and taxation of marijuana. Thus, it is uncertain to what extent the state and local governments would in fact undertake such actions. For example, it is unknown how many local governments would choose to license establishments that would grow or sell marijuana or impose an excise tax on such sales.”

They continue, “In addition, although the federal government announced in March 2009 that it would no longer prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers whose actions are consistent with Proposition 215, it has continued to enforce its prohibitions on non-medical marijuana-related activities. This means that the federal government could prosecute individuals for activities that would be permitted under this measure. To the extent that the federal government continued to enforce its prohibitions on marijuana, it would have the effect of impeding the activities permitted by this measure under state law.”

“Thus, the revenue and expenditure impacts of this measure are subject to significant uncertainty,” they conclude.

However, they also add, “The measure could result in savings to the state and local governments by reducing the number of marijuana offenders incarcerated in state prisons and county jails, as well as the number placed under county probation or state parole supervision. These savings could reach several tens of millions of dollars annually. The county jail savings would be offset to the extent that jail beds no longer needed for marijuana offenders were used for other criminals who are now being released early because of a lack of jail space.”

Moreover, “The measure would result in a reduction in state and local costs for enforcement of marijuana-related offenses and the handling of related criminal cases in the court system. However, it is likely that the state and local governments would redirect their resources to other law enforcement and court activities.”

Is that not what we want?  State and local governments to redirect their resources to other law enforcement and court activities?

Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?

The argument is often posed that even if marijuana itself is a mild drug that causes minimal harm, it is a dangerous substance because it leads to the use of supposedly harder drugs.  As I have said previously, it is a strange argument, because really any argument you can make about marijuana you can make about legal drugs like cigarettes and alcohol. 

In 2002, the RAND Drug Policy Research Center commission a study on the marijuana gateway effect.  Researchers Andrew Morral, Daniel McCaffrey, and Susan Paddock examined whether marijuana use per se increases youths’ risk of initiating hard drugs, i.e. the marijuana gateway effect, or if these associations could instead be explained as the result of a common factor influencing the probability of both marijuana and other drug use.

Their findings “do not disprove the gateway effect” however, “instead, they demonstrate that each of the phenomena that appear to support such an effect are, in fact, equally consistent with a plausible alternative that accounts for the known general liability to use drugs and the known differences in when youths receive their first opportunities to use drugs.”

Goode’s research from 1970 is cited as well, “Something like a marijuana gateway effect probably does exist, if only because marijuana purchases bring users into contact with a black market that also increases access to hard drugs.”

The researchers here conclude, “Our model demonstrates how the observed correlations in the use of marijuana and hard drugs may be entirely due to individuals’ propensity to use drugs and their opportunities to use them. As such, marijuana policies would have little effect on hard drug use, except insofar as they affected either an individuals’ propensity to use any drugs (as might be the case with drug use prevention programs), or they resulted in hard drugs becoming less available or available later in youths’ lives.”

While this study is hardly conclusive and the last word on the topic, it does underlie the problem with the assertion that marijuana is a gateway drug.  It appears that there is no underlying causal mechanism to create the link and instead what we see is simply a matter of correlation not being equivalent to causation.  In other words, we see the correlation not because marijuana use causes other drugs, but rather because there are other factors that increases the likelihood of both marijuana use and other drug use.

Conclusion

In most ways our drug laws make little sense.  Marijuana per se probably represents less danger to the population than either cigarettes or alcohol.  Marijuana rarely creates a public nuisance caused by violence triggered by over-consumption.  It lacks the addictive qualities of cigarettes.  And the bottom line is that we no longer have the resources to control every aspects of an individual’s behavior.  We already have laws that govern against acts of violence or property crimes.  We ought to focus our resources on those crimes that represent a threat to public safety rather than those actions that mainly impact one’s own life.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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53 Comments

  1. Dr. Wu

    If marijuana is a gateway drug then alcohol certainly is as well. Millions of us have used marijuana and never used anything harder and I agree the side effects, at least in terms of violence and antisocial behavior, are less bad than alcohol. Marijuana is certainly less addictive than nicotine according to every piece of research I have see (many think nicotine is more addictive than heroin).

    We have lost the war on drugs. I missed yesterday’s blog (work) so let me add my two cents. We spend $47,000 per prisoner in this state; the national average is about half that, $24,000, and Texas spends something like $16,000. THis,along with overstuffed pensions and a health care system that is out of control, are bankrupting this country, this state, and local governments.

    Legalizing marijuana is a no-brainer though how many people are arrested for marijuana possession these days anyway? I don’t think all drugs should be legalized but the way our society deals with addiction is inhumane, inefficient and ineffective. Thomas Friedman of the NYT has said its getting to the point where the US doesn’t seem to be able to solve any of its problems. Legalizing marijuana is not a panacea but I think it helps.

  2. wesley506

    The gateway drugs of today are found in your medicine cabinet. It’s the Vocodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, Gabepentin, Wellbutrin, and a host of other prescription meds that kids are starting with. We are a pill popping nation, and have set the example that because we got it with a prescription it is OK.

    A report, released recently by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that more American teens trying drugs for the first time are getting high on prescription medications. In this study, 9 percent of Texas teens reported using illicit drugs, mostly marijuana, in the previous month. Seven percent of Texas teens said they abused prescription painkillers. I read another report on the changing nature of heroin addiction where 39% of heroin addicts reported that the drugs they first started abusing were prescription drugs.

  3. Rich Rifkin

    I’m very much against prohibition laws, including the prohibition of marijuana growing, consumption, etc. However, I do favor the regulation of drugs, where their presence or use negatively impacts others.

    To wit, I feel very strongly that (if 19 passes) smoking pot in public places should remain illegal–save perhaps in restricted, adult only zones where everyone who goes into one of those zones knows it is “a red light district.” I would extend that ban on smoking pot in public places even to someone’s private backyard, if the smoke wafts into a neighbors yard and he can smell it.

    The standard ought to be: If it only affects you, then go for it. But your choice to smoke pot should never override my choice to not have to smell your effluents.

    Even with no-public-consumption-of-pot laws, some people will smoke pot in public. I would favor local governments decide what appropriate punishments should be, though I would make them much stiffer if the offender chose to light up in the proximity of young kids (say under 16).

  4. David M. Greenwald

    Rich: As I read Prop 19, it would be local communities that would decriminalize marijuana and therefore they would have the opportunity to determine where and when. I’m not really that oppose to public consumption of pot, but there are general prohibitions against where and when people can smoke cigarettes and it would seem reasonable that those restrictions would apply to marijuana as well and might preclude a smoking bar.

  5. Dr. Wu

    Rich:

    I generally agree though the backyard ban seems like a bit too much. Some of us even like the smell of pot nearby. (Brings back flashbacks to the 60s and 70s?) Maybe there needs to be a threshold here, like noise abatement.

    There is definitely an issue with minors and my main concern with public smoking of pot would concern setting and example for minors (and to a lesser extent 2nd hand smoke). I don’t think we are inconsistent here since public drinking is generally not allowed and smoking cigarettes in public is pretty much verboten in California these days.

    I assume burning pot in one’s fireplace will be illegal in Davis as well…

  6. Barbara King

    This proposition allows consumption of pot in a residence, so I, unfortunately, can’t vote for it. I have asthma which is triggered by any kind of smoke, and I had some pretty serious problems when an inconsiderate smoker lied her way into the apartment below mine. Also, a friend of mine almost didn’t get a job because he tested positive to pot from the secondhand pot smoke that wafted into his apartment from neighbors. Until either general smoking laws cover more areas such as residences or until a proposed pot law contains such restrictions, I must, reluctantly, vote against legalizing pot.

  7. davistownie

    Rich: “some people will smoke pot in public. I would favor local governments decide what appropriate punishments should be, though I would make them much stiffer if the offender chose to light up in the proximity of young kids (say under 16)”

    “The standard ought to be: If it only affects you, then go for it. But your choice to smoke pot should never override my choice to not have to smell your effluents”

    this should apply to tobacco smoke as well. I agree with Rich that government should stay out of personal business as long as it doesn’t impact others too badly (there’s the catch). Let’s make it apply to tobacco smoke also, which has been demonstrated to have adverse health affects. Also, to my nose tobacco smoke is much more offensive than cannabis smoke.

  8. Kane607

    Last time I checked, marijuana use is illegal under Federal law.
    The federal government has avenues to make sure those laws are enforced. Excuse me, but if marijuana is decriminalized, then that is saying state law trumps federal law. That SETS A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT SINCE THE END OF THE CIVIL WAR. The govt. could withold federal highway funds to the state. Additionally, the rand study published in the sac bee also predicts there would be new costs associated with enforcement of the new rules associated with decriminalizing marijuana…

    in other words, the claim that marijuana decriminalization would represent a net financial plus to the state is highly questionable at best.

  9. David M. Greenwald

    The question is whether the feds will choose to enforce it. They enforced medical marijuana under Bush but are not now. My guess, the Obama administration will not enforce it and by the time another president has a chance to, it probably will be in effect long enough that they will decide there are more pressing uses of resources.

  10. Kane607

    it is highly questionable that the costs associated with current enforcement of anti-drug laws are going to be associated with the cost of enforcing new ones. it is also possible the federal govt. can withold funds to the state to offset any tax revenue gains.

    furthermore, drug dealers charge a high price for marijuana to evade law enforcement, a cost they will not have to pay to sell drugs to anyone including children. people can grow pot in thier backyards without fear of the law, and thus can grow and distribute it dirt cheap and the state will never see a dime of that money.

    in other words, NICE TRY DPD!! BUT YOUR ATTEMPT TO SUCKER US INTO APPROVING DOPE WITH $ DOESN’T WORK!! BUT NICE TRY ANYWAY!!!

  11. Kane607

    oh, yeah. you also keep citing the ACLU.. excuse me, but let’s address the four hundred pound elephant in the room. The ACLU is a political wing of the Democrat party, hardly an unbiased, disinterested source here. Just because the ACLU has the title (american civil liberties union) does not mean they they truly give a damn about Aermicans or civil liberties. They support and promote left leaning political causes.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    “it is highly questionable that the costs associated with current enforcement of anti-drug laws are going to be associated with the cost of enforcing new ones. it is also possible the federal govt. can withold funds to the state to offset any tax revenue gains.”

    It is possible, but does not seem probable.

    “furthermore, drug dealers charge a high price for marijuana to evade law enforcement, a cost they will not have to pay to sell drugs to anyone including children. people can grow pot in thier backyards without fear of the law, and thus can grow and distribute it dirt cheap and the state will never see a dime of that money.”

    I think the more important money is that from enforcement efforts. Unless they actually legalize marijuana, and therefore sell it from legitimate source, it is unlikely to produce tax revenue. Also I would not characterize marijuana as particularly expensive to begin with.

    “in other words, NICE TRY DPD!! BUT YOUR ATTEMPT TO SUCKER US INTO APPROVING DOPE WITH $ DOESN’T WORK!! BUT NICE TRY ANYWAY!!! “

    humorous.

  13. David M. Greenwald

    “oh, yeah. you also keep citing the ACLU.. excuse me, but let’s address the four hundred pound elephant in the room. The ACLU is a political wing of the Democrat party, hardly an unbiased, disinterested source here. Just because the ACLU has the title (american civil liberties union) does not mean they they truly give a damn about Aermicans or civil liberties. They support and promote left leaning political causes. “

    So you are suggesting what exactly? I cite the ACLU because I agree with them, not because they are a disinterested or unbiased source of information. BTW, the disinterested and unbiased source of information is the next paragraph down in the LAO’s analysis.

  14. Rich Rifkin

    Re: tobacco smoke. I don’t have anything more to add to what others have said, but I think the same principle should apply–“foul your air, not mine.”

    I do think private businesses which cater to adults should be allowed to permit smoking inside the premises of the business, as long as the smoke does not waft outside. Anyone who chooses to work in such a business or patronize such a business should assume the risks. Unfortunately, anti-tobacco activists have passed laws in most states prohibiting this sort of thing.

    [i]”I’m not really that opposed to public consumption of pot, but …”{/i]

    My thought is that most of the time where you have a place that individuals are smoking pot, it makes the place inhospitable to families with young kids* (and to people like Barbara with respiratory diseases) or at least less hospitable to them.

    The public consumption of pot presents two problems which together make me disfavor it. One, as noted, is the clean air or effluent question. The second is that [i]smoking pot is drug-taking[/i] and usually for the purposes of getting high. That is not something I favor in my presence or in the presence of anyone who is offended by it.

    If someone wants to get stoned, that is an individual choice. But it is not, in my estimation, proper to do that in front of children or in the public sphere. I feel the same way about alcohol if someone drinks to a state of drunkeness.

    But with modest alcohol consumption, I think there are two substantive distinctions with public smoking of pot:

    1) alcohol has no effluent effect as such; and
    2) alcohol can be and is consumed by most adults without getting drunk, whereas even just a few puffs on a joint will lead most people to get stoned. I am not a drinker. However, once a month or less, I will have a beer at a restaurant with my meal. I don’t get drunk. As such, I don’t impose myself on others who don’t want to be imposed upon.

    Both alcohol and pot can also be consumed as ingredients in food. There is (obviously) no need to regulate eating such foods in public. However, there is a distinction between say beer-battered fish and pot brownies. The former is not mind-altering, while the latter is still a powerful drug. So if there is a regulatory need, it would be the usual prohibition on being intoxicated in public, if someone absorbed so much THC that he was noticeably wasted.

    *In the Davis smoking ordinance ([url]http://cityofdavis.org/cmo/citycode/detail.cfm?p=34&q=1319[/url]), there is a provision which prohibits smoking in public in “children’s play areas.”

  15. Barbara King

    Rich: Yes, and the Davis smoking ordinance requires that whoever is in charge of the area where smoking is not allowed must post that area with “No Smoking.” signs, without which the police are understandably unlikely to cite. The city has not yet posted “no smoking” signs in children’s play areas. The Davis ordinance was passed in 1993, and sometime between then and now the state has also prohibited smoking in children’s play areas, although the last time I looked the state law did not require signage.

  16. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”Last time I checked, marijuana [u]use[/u] is illegal under Federal law.”[/i]

    Not true. The federal cannabis laws (which apply to the states) outlaw possession, cultivation and sales, but not use.

    These laws have not been well-tested in the courts for constitutional purposes. That is, insofar as federal law prohibits a person in Davis from cultivating a cannabis plant in his backyard or in his closet, what authority does the federal goverment have under the commerce clause to pass such a law? How is it interstate commerce if I never leave Davis and I sell 100 grams of marijuana to you? It seems unlikely the federal laws will pass constitutional muster.

    If 19 is approved, my guess is that it goes to the SCOTUS, where the court will throw out the federal laws. The Roberts Court has a majority of justices now who are federalists ([url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Federalism[/url]). They take the commerce clause seriously, unlike the lefty courts we had for many years.

  17. E Roberts Musser

    Honestly, have you all lost your minds (pun intended)?!
    1) Legalize marijuana – start the process of legalizing drugs (legalizing medical marijuana was the first step towards legalizing drugs, and has been a horrible failure from its intended purpose of assisting the “chronically ill”)
    2) Federal law making marijuana illegal trumps state law making it legal
    3) Long term use of marijuana/any mind altering drug has been shown to physically alter/damage the brain
    4) How much worker productivity will result when employees smoke pot before going to work, during work, after work, on weekends? What about pot smokers working around dangerous equipment, making a CAR YOU MIGHT DRIVE, etc.
    5) Exposure of marijuana use/smoke to babies, children, teens doesn’t bother you? It should.
    6) All of you seem to agree with the ordinances that encourage adults to quite smoking cigarettes but want to encourage the use of marijuana smoking? Completely illogical.
    7) Pot smokers drive cars. Want to be on the road with people who regularly smoke a joint before heading to work/during work/after work? Already do you say? How do you know that is not a contributing factor to a good number of accidents? Want more accidents?
    8) Marijuana is a gateway drug, notwithstanding the rationalizations given in the above article.
    9) How much money is legalizing marijuana going to cost the state, in lost productivity, mopping up car accidents, etc?
    10) Prescription drugs are known to cause memory loss, slower reaction times, loss of inhibitions – pot smoking will do the same thing. This causes people to be more forgetful; have more car accidents; commit more crimes; be more likily to become addicted to shopping/gambling…

    Sorry, the logic in legalizing marijuana totally escapes me…

  18. David M. Greenwald

    “legalizing medical marijuana was the first step towards legalizing drugs, and has been a horrible failure from its intended purpose of assisting the “chronically ill””

    Let’s start here. What is your evidence in support of this assertion?

  19. Rich Rifkin

    [i]Sorry, the logic in legalizing marijuana totally escapes me… [/i]

    Why should you be concerned if someone in Davis grows a cannabis plant in his backyard and in the privacy of his home smokes marijuana? His doing so has no effect on you. Your prohibiting him from doing what he pleases does, however, harm him. You are taking away his pleasure for no reason, for no benefit to yourself or to society. That is nonsense. It’s as crazy as alcohol prohibition.

    Re: federal law. There was a case (out of Oroville) a few years back called Gonzalez vs. Raich which went to the SCOTUS. It did decide that the Feds could regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana. However, the plaintiffs did not challenge the federal drug laws on the basis of the commerce clause. As such, the SCOTUS has not yet ruled on that question with regard to marijuana.

  20. E Roberts Musser

    rich rifkin: “Why should you be concerned if someone in Davis grows a cannabis plant in his backyard and in the privacy of his home smokes marijuana? His doing so has no effect on you.”

    If that pot smoker exposes his child, it hurts the child, which ultimately hurts society as a whole. If that same pot smoker gets in his car and drives down the road, then hits my car, that hurts me. If that pot smoker with impaired judgment is working on a car assembly line, and installs the brakes improperly, and I purchase that car, that hurts me. If that same pot smoker works around dangerous equipment hurts himself, and gets workers comp, taxpayers are damaged. Get the picture now?

  21. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”If that pot smoker exposes his child, it hurts the child, which ultimately hurts society as a whole.”[/i]

    So make it illegal to smoke pot in front of a child.

    [i]”If that same pot smoker gets in his car and drives down the road, then hits my car, that hurts me.”[/i]

    Prop 19 has no effect on DUI laws. You are reaching.

    [i]”If that pot smoker with impaired judgment is working on a car assembly line, and installs the brakes improperly, and I purchase that car, that hurts me.”[/i]

    This has nothing to do with Prop 19. Everything you point to here is already true, whether marijuana is legal or not. Moreover, the problems you point to are much more likely to be consequences of those on prescription pills (such as painkillers) or alcohol, than they are marijuana. So if you were using logic–and you aren’t, clearly–you would ban alcohol and prescription drug use, because some individuals using those substances might make bad judgments while on them.

    [i]”If that same pot smoker works around dangerous equipment hurts himself, and gets workers comp, taxpayers are damaged.”[/i]

    Again, this is just repeating your previous fallacious argument. You completely ignore the realitic scenario I paint–the individual who smokes pot in the privacy of his own home with no children breathing the effluents–in order to make up what are essentially stories that have to do with people who have bad judgment. I agree those are scary scenarios. But keeping marijuana illegal won’t make people have better judgment. Those who would endanger others while high will do so no matter what our marijuana laws are. It just happens to be the case that pot-smokers are far less likely to cause any of the problems you point out than are alcohol drinkers or pill takers.

    [i]”Get the picture now?”[/i]

    I get the picture that you are not using logic in this case.

  22. rusty49

    There’s alot of people who refrain from smoking pot because it is now illegal. Open the door, make it legal and easily accessable you’re going to have potheads everywhere you turn. How is this a good thing?

  23. biddlin

    “There’s alot of people who refrain from smoking pot because it is now illegal. Open the door, make it legal and easily accessable you’re going to have potheads everywhere you turn. How is this a good thing?”

    Convenience stores, catering trucks and snackfood venders should see a big uptick in sales.

  24. rusty49

    “Why is it necessarily a bad thing? I’d much rather people smoke pot than drink for example.”

    Right David, having more stoned people walking the streets is a good thing.
    My apologies.

  25. Rich Rifkin

    Rusty, if your argument is we should deny all people their liberty because some people will make bad decisions–and I agree with you that legalization will result in more people trying pot–then you should be advocating for a return to the Prohibition of alcohol.

    In every possible way, alcohol abuse causes far more problems for the individual abuser and for society than does cannabis abuse or use. The vast majority of drinkers are responsible. They don’t drive drunk. They don’t get drunk and then get violent. They don’t cause anyone any problems when they have a cocktail or a glass of wine. Yet a minority cannot handle alcohol. They do cause a lot of problems. When we had Prohibition, the percentage of people who drank was much lower than before and after. So if you think banning a much more benign drug like cannabis is sensible because that lowers the number of users, then you must be for banning alcohol, which is a much harder drug with much worse societal effect.

    But as you know, Prohibition of any drug does not stop its use. And Prohibition creates a black market, which itself always results in gangsterism, violence and other activities which require heavy investments in law enforcement and prisons. So if you really want high taxes, you should be for Prohibition of all social intoxicants.

  26. Primoris

    [quote]Having stoned people walk the street would be just as illegal as having drunk people walk the streets now.
    [/quote]

    Just as illegal?

    And how, praytell, would an officer currently determine that a stoned dude is -“…in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others…?”

    Do you mean officer discretion may be involved in these matters?

  27. David M. Greenwald

    If he can’t determine that a person is intoxicated, then I guess it’s not a huge problem. Or that’s how I view it. I don’t think a whole bunch of new people are going to be walking around intoxicated because of legalization, especially since for the most part people will not be able to smoke in public places anyway. This is a bunch of rationalizations for people who somehow think alcohol is okay but can’t define why marijuana should be illegal.

  28. Primoris

    RR wrote: [quote]Moreover, the problems you point to are much more likely to be consequences of those on prescription pills (such as painkillers) or alcohol, than they are marijuana.[/quote]

    Just one minor difference: recreational use versus must be prescribed by a physician.

  29. E Roberts Musser

    rich rifkin: “I get the picture that you are not using logic in this case.”

    According to who?

    dmg: “Why is it necessarily a bad thing? I’d much rather people smoke pot than drink for example.”

    Smoking pot on a long term basis alters/damages brain cells. It is addictive, and is a gateway drug to the use of other even more damaging drugs. Would you want your baby exposed to marijuana smoke? If not, then a parent/society should set the example. We discourage exposing people to cigarette smoke, but are now going to make it OK to expose them to marijuana smoke? Now that makes a whole lot of sense – NOT!

    rich rifkin: “So make it illegal to smoke pot in front of a child.”

    See argument above…

    rich rifkin: “Prop 19 has no effect on DUI laws…”

    The heck it doesn’t! Make smoking pot legal increases the likelihood of more stoned drivers.

    rich rifkin: “Moreover, the problems you point to are much more likely to be consequences of those on prescription pills (such as painkillers) or alcohol, than they are marijuana.”

    And you would know this because? Are you a doctor/researcher on the subject? Have you taken into account dosage prescribed/length of time prescribed versus pot use with no check on amount used and for how long a time? In short, have you done a scientific study to back up your assertion?

    rich rifkin: “Again, this is just repeating your previous fallacious argument”

    Fallacious because YOU said so?

    dmg: “erm: “legalizing medical marijuana was the first step towards legalizing drugs, and has been a horrible failure from its intended purpose of assisting the “chronically ill””

    “Let’s start here. What is your evidence in support of this assertion?”

    Very interesting article on the subject in the CA Lawyer Magazine.

  30. E Roberts Musser

    rusty49: “There’s alot of people who refrain from smoking pot because it is now illegal. Open the door, make it legal and easily accessable you’re going to have potheads everywhere you turn. How is this a good thing?”

    I’m with you rusty49. When I see arguments to legalize marijuana, this is when I honestly think I have wandered into the land of the fruitloops!

  31. David M. Greenwald

    “Smoking pot on a long term basis alters/damages brain cells. It is addictive, and is a gateway drug to the use of other even more damaging drugs. Would you want your baby exposed to marijuana smoke? “

    Drinking long term leads to liver damage. Smoking cigarettes lead to lung cancer, emphasema, etc. Eating too much food leads to heart disease.

    I reviewed the literature on marijuana yesterday and there is no evidence that it is a gateway drug that leads to the use of other more damaging drugs and certainly not anymore than alcohol and cigarettes.

    The problem I think you have Elaine is that you can make all of these arguments today for alcohol and cigarettes. I have yet to see anyone on here posit an argument as to why those should remain legal and marijuana should remain illegal. Until that happens, no one is going to really sway my argument.

  32. E Roberts Musser

    dgm: “The problem I think you have Elaine is that you can make all of these arguments today for alcohol and cigarettes. I have yet to see anyone on here posit an argument as to why those should remain legal and marijuana should remain illegal. Until that happens, no one is going to really sway my argument.”

    Alcohol can be used harmlessly as a “social lubricant”. Cigarette smoking has no redeeming qualities, and is being phased out through education and stricter regulation. Yet you want to legalize a harmful drug w no redeeming qualities other than it makes someone smoking it spacey and less able to carry on life activities as effectively. Clearly we ill have to agree to disagree on this one :-). However, I will go out on a limb and make a prediction. If marijuana is legalized in CA, I predict there will be negative unintended consequences and very little if any positive benefits… This is what has played out in the medical marijuana arena, so I don’t expect it to be any different with recreational marijuana use…

  33. David M. Greenwald

    Marijuana can be used harmlessly as well and the negative consequences are considerably less than for alcohol, the most serious of which would still be illegal. There were negative unintended consequences to legalizing alcohol again, but they were trumped by the elimination of unintended consequences of making it illegal. I see no difference. You seem to be expecting that every additional marijuana user will abuse the drug while ignoring the fact that a minority of alcohol users also abuse the drug and become a huge safety hazard to the adjacent population. I’m sorry, we just cannot afford the money and expense required to combat a drug that from where I sit appears to actually be a good deal less harmful than alcohol.

  34. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “I’m sorry, we just cannot afford the money and expense required to combat a drug that from where I sit appears to actually be a good deal less harmful than alcohol.”

    I disagree with this premise. Alcohol (red wine) used in moderate amounts can be a good thing – it opens up clogged arteries. If used in moderate amounts, it acts as a social lubricant. In short, if not abused, can be helpful (not that I am encouraging alcohol use by the way). From articles I have read, long term pot use is harmful, altering brain cells. Furthermore, pot smokers will inevitably expose their children to pot, either directly or indirectly. Like I said, we will have to agree to disagree 🙂 My hope is Prop 19 does not pass. If it does, I will predict serious unintended consequences will be the result…

  35. davistownie

    E: “From articles I have read, long term pot use is harmful, altering brain cells.”

    please pass on your sources, I have never seen one bit of evidence that moderate, long term marijuana use has any side effects.

    If you are going to use “social lubricant” as a boon for alcohol, you should concede that the increased creativity of artists who use a marijuana is a benefit. Surely you will agree that art and music are an important part of a healthy society. Some of America’s most influential musicians performed and recorded much of their best work while under the influence of marijuana.

    Also, many things “alter brain cells.” Possibly including cellphones, should we make their use and possession illegal?

  36. Superfluous Man

    ERM,

    “Alcohol (red wine) used in moderate amounts can be a good thing – it opens up clogged arteries.”

    And marijuana, when used moderately, can’t be a considered ‘good thing’, in that it can stimulate hunger and relieve nausea in chemotherapy patients?

    “If used in moderate amounts, it acts as a social lubricant. In short, if not abused, can be helpful (not that I am encouraging alcohol use by the way).”

    Can’t you make the same argument with regards to moderate marijuana use and its “loosening up” effect on the user and socializing? Can’t marijuana serve as a ‘social lubricant,’ lessening anxiety and stress…like alcohol? Is marijuana helpful as well, then?

    “From articles I have read, long term pot use is harmful, altering brain cells.”

    Long-term use of what kind? Moderate usage? What studies and research are those articles basing their claims on? Can using marijuana result in permanent neurological damage?

    “Furthermore, pot smokers will inevitably expose their children to pot, either directly or indirectly.”

    Users don’t have to smoke marijuana to feel the effects. Just like with cigarette smoke and smokers, it is the responsibility of the parent and/or marijuana smoker to use the substance responsibly. In other words, don’t smoke marijuana in the same room or home your (or someone else’s) children are in OR ingest it some other way, which will ensure that no THC will get in the children’s system by sheer contact with marijuana smoke (ie bake goods).

  37. Superfluous Man

    “10 years ago nobody would’ve thought we’d be this close to legalizing pot.

    10 years from today might crack be the next legal drug?”

    If you believe ‘slippery slope’ arguments are not fallacious…

  38. David M. Greenwald

    Pot legalization has been pushed for some time. I don’t see the push for legalizing crack, although that being said, I am in favor in general of decriminalizing all drugs and putting resources into health policies rather than prison. From the numbers I have seen, even residential treatment is a fraction of the cost of incarceration. We release most people from residential treatment programs way too quickly, we need to keep them in at least one year maybe longer.

  39. davistownie

    “10 years ago nobody would’ve thought we’d be this close to legalizing pot.

    10 years from today might crack be the next legal drug?”

    77 years ago we ended alcohol prohibition, maybe in another 77 years we’ll be looking at cocaine legalization.

  40. E Roberts Musser

    “What studies and research are those articles basing their claims on? Can using marijuana result in permanent neurological damage?”

    From the Nat’l Institute of Drug Abuse “Not surprisingly, marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that marijuana’s adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.2 As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.
    Research on the long-term effects of marijuana abuse indicates some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term abuse of other major drugs…”

    “77 years ago we ended alcohol prohibition, maybe in another 77 years we’ll be looking at cocaine legalization.”

    Heaven forbid!

  41. davistownie

    from the Journal of the American Medical Association’s article: Does Heavy Marijuana Use Impair Human Cognition and Brain Function?: “Many studies have examined cognitive effects of chronic marijuana use, with mixed results. Both studies reporting adverse effects and those observing few or no effects have frequently suffered from methodological flaws.”

    there are no published studies in the Nat’l Institute of Drug Abuse’s bibliography that back up the claim that “Research on the long-term effects of marijuana abuse indicates some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term abuse of other major drugs.”

    there is however, ample evidence that tobacco and alcohol both have adverse health effects associated with chronic, excessive use.

    there are many legal substances that are “bad for you” in excess. if legalized, marijuana would be no different. it is clearly bad for you in excess, the question is what constitutes excess. why not legalize it and allow grown-ups to make intelligent decisions for themselves.

  42. E Roberts Musser

    davistownie: “there is however, ample evidence that tobacco and alcohol both have adverse health effects associated with chronic, excessive use.
    there are many legal substances that are “bad for you” in excess. if legalized, marijuana would be no different. it is clearly bad for you in excess, the question is what constitutes excess. why not legalize it and allow grown-ups to make intelligent decisions for themselves.”

    Because I don’t want a stoned population with adverse consequences, to put it simply…

    davistownie: “from the Journal of the American Medical Association’s article: Does Heavy Marijuana Use Impair Human Cognition and Brain Function?: “Many studies have examined cognitive effects of chronic marijuana use, with mixed results.”

    Notice the article does not say the NIDA conclusions are not correct and neither do you…

  43. davistownie

    “Because I don’t want a stoned population with adverse consequences, to put it simply… “

    there is no reason to believe that there will be a “stoned population” if marijuana is decriminalized any more than we have “drunk” population now. as soon as you (and the rest of the opposition) call for alcohol to be outlawed, your arguments will cease to be hypocritical

    “Notice the article does not say the NIDA conclusions are not correct and neither do you… “

    neither does the NIDA provide any evidence that “research on the long-term effects of marijuana abuse indicates some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term abuse of other major drugs…”

    there claims about short term (while under influence and shortly after) backed up by cited research; they offer no citation of research to back up their assertion of long term brain changes.

  44. Superfluous Man

    ERM,

    “Because I don’t want a stoned population with adverse consequences, to put it simply…”

    To what degree will the population become higher if marijuana were legalized?

  45. E Roberts Musser

    sm: “To what degree will the population become higher if marijuana were legalized?”

    If legalized, only time will tell. However, look at what happened in the tobacco industry – cigarettes targeted at kids.

    davistownie: “there claims about short term (while under influence and shortly after) backed up by cited research; they offer no citation of research to back up their assertion of long term brain changes.”

    Would you believe any research that went against your view?

  46. davistownie

    [quote]Would you believe any research that went against your view? [/quote]

    My view is that there is no supporting research that moderate long term marijuana use has more detrimental health effects than moderate long term alcohol use. please pass along anything you know of that demonstrates otherwise.

    FWIW I have not used Marijuana in many years, and do not plan to start if it is legalized. I do think that abuse of it is unhealthy, as is the abuse of many legal substances including but not limited to alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, junk food and OTC meds. I am aware of multiple fatal alcohol overdoses and OTC drug overdoses, but not a single fatal Marijuana overdose.

    As David brings up in the above blog, it is simply not worth the money and effort that we as a society spend enforcing marijuana laws. that time and money would be much better spent in awareness programs focused at ending abuse.

  47. E Roberts Musser

    davistownie: “My view is that there is no supporting research that moderate long term marijuana use has more detrimental health effects than moderate long term alcohol use.”

    I rest my case 🙂

  48. codyG

    It is said that marijuana affects the user but not the people around him because it is just addictive but not makes a person violent or harmful.Some does not believe in this statement. Lately, another concept came out that the legislators are looking into.A bill decriminalizing the possession of modest portions of cannabis narrowly approved the Conn. Senate earlier this week. N.Y. has a comparable bill which tries to fix a loophole from an earlier decriminalization law. Even proponents of that bill see its passing prior to session ends as doubtful. The proof is here: N.Y. and Connecticut lawmakers seek to decriminalize marijuana, newstype.com ([url]http://www.newsytype.com/7349-new-york-connecticut-pot-laws/[/url])

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