Monday, November 1, 2010

Reasons even a non-pot smoker should vote for Proposition 19

This Tuesday, we Americans will be witnessing an historic event: The revelation about why we use 'an' in front of the word historic. No, actually, I'm talking about the legalization of marijuana through public referendum... That's right, Proposition 19. Pot will be voted legal in California for recreational use. That is, assuming it passes...

Different polls show close calls in either direction, so lets call it about even. For the many people who are on the fence, this is for you. You probably don't smoke, and may not even have anything to do with the culture of marijuana. Even if you see it as just some drug, there are many reasons why I feel you will agree it should not be illegal. The fact it is illegal creates problems you may not have realized.

I'm not going to give you some whole "anti-Reefer Madness" rant because you've probably heard it already. What I am doing is giving some rational statements about why legalizing pot will be in the best interest of people not even remotely interested or involved with its consumption. Hopefully these will give you reason to vote to legalize it for those who do...

When making your decision, consider these points:

- 850-900,000 people are arrested every year in the US for pot. It is a nonviolent, victimless crime.

- People smoke pot, regardless of its legal state. In other words, people are forced to go through illegal sources to obtain pot. Knowing that users are not deterred by the fact it is illegal, keeping it illegal is supporting crime...

- There are no rules in the illegal black market of pot. Kids can get pot because it is illegal. It's not like alcohol or cigarettes that have measures that prevent minors from buying. Dealers come in all ages. Your 13 year old currently can get illegal pot easier than legal alcohol. Legalizing it, and erasing the black market, will subject minors to constant preventive measures and nuisances like ID-ing.

- Growers, suppliers, and dealers come in all types. There are indeed criminal controlled elements in drug trafficking... you know... the type that kill people. But many others are entrepreneurs who see a need to fill for a product that is in demand. These are businesspeople who are otherwise upstanding citizens. Shouldn't the forum to sell the product be given to those who plan to do it safely and professionally? Or should we keep the market open for those people who kill, steal, rape, sell weapons, etc to keep their enterprise going?

- Many people will argue that if pot is legal, crime will increase from people trying to pay for it. While this isn't true, and would still go on if illegal, lets just follow this logic... Stats have shown that about 20% of drug sales are paid for by 'barter'. Some of these 'barter' items include sex and stolen merchandise. A street dealer will accept these forms of payment. Your legal pot dispensary will not.

- People are afraid we'll see a surge in the amount of people who smoke. This may be true at first, people curious about it and all. But that will level off very quickly. Like with any vice product, some will accept it and some wont. Not everybody drinks, not everybody smokes, and those are legal.

- Arresting people for pot takes up time and resources (and tax dollars) that police could be using to prevent dangerous crime.

- It also slows down our courts and occupies our prosecutors, as there needs to be a trial for every single person arrested.

- The American taxpayer covers the bill for people arrested and imprisoned for pot. You have your own rent, food, utilities to pay for... With the amount of people arrested, given the nonviolent and victimless nature of the crime, is it financially worth it?

- Pot users in prison take up room that more severe offenders should be occupying. Some 60% of people through the legal system are there for drugs, 80-90% of them being for pot possession. Prisons are currently overcrowded, and violent criminals are released early just because there is no room for them. I say keep them in longer by putting them where a nonviolent pot user once stayed.

- Most importantly, WE SPEND A BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR as a nation on the enforcement and punishment of marijuana laws. Think about what we could do with that money? Improve our schools? Tax cuts? Why spend that on efforts that have not been working.

- Legalizing pot will eliminate much of the social stigma of the plant, which can help drive research and acceptance of its medicinal purposes.

- Currently, a conviction for pot can end your career. Most corporations will not hire someone with a drug arrest on their record, even for pot. Did you also know that someone with a drug conviction can not get a student loan for college? How does that improve society? Can't even improve yourself to become employable...

- As legal entities, pot dispensaries will operate in a similar fashion to pharmacies and bars. ID will be needed for purchase to make sure the person is of age. And governments will actually make money off taxes levied from pot sales, similar to alcohol and tobacco (with some figures having us raking in hundreds of millions a year in taxes). Not to mention the small business opportunities involved in the pot industry, such as for legal growing, clubs/bars that cater to the pot crowd, and the vibrant market for smoking devices and other paraphernalia.

- Mostly, its about freedom. We can speak, vote, and pray how we like... does it make sense then that we can be told what we can and can not put in own bodies? You don't have to love pot to vote for Proposition 19, you just have to love America.

(more to be added?...)

As you see, it is in the best interest of everyone for pot to be legal. Californians, you have the opportunity. Stand up for your freedom, even if it is a specific one you do not choose to partake in. Yes on 19!!!


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