Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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April 12, 2009

Time to legalize

by Charles Kong, Online Op/Ed Editor
Last month, California legislator Tom Ammiano introduced the nation’s first bill that would legalize, regulate and tax the commercial use of marijuana in California. Not only will the revenue generated help California’s crumbling economy, the regulation of marijuana may also lead the nation one step closer to ending the war on drugs by eliminating the underground industry.
Legalizing marijuana would generate much needed revenue and eliminate its underground industry. Elaine Lin
Legalizing marijuana would generate much needed revenue and eliminate its underground industry.

The proposed bill, called the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act, would simply give marijuana the same treatment as beer, wine and liquor, allowing adults over the age of 21 to purchase it as long as they pay an excise tax. Currently, marijuana is the state’s leading cash crop, creating over $14 billion in sales, according to Ammiano. By taxing it at $50 an ounce, Ammiano believes marijuana production and sales would earn California over $1.3 billion annually. In addition, legalizing marijuana would also save the state money indirectly by eliminating the need to enforce laws against marijuana.

According to a 2005 study endorsed by Milton Friedman and other economists, legal regulation of marijuana would save the nation $7.7 billion in enforcement costs and bring in up to $6.2 billion in taxes, money that could then be used to target more serious crimes and issues.

In addition, if marijuana were legalized, a whole portion of the illicit underground industry would be eliminated. Simply put, there is no need for a black market if there is a legal one to turn to. This will curb the business for drug cartels, and all the dollars that are being illegally siphoned off the country will find their way into the coffers of the state. Mexico is the main supply route for marijuana entering the U.S., and violence has erupted between cartel gunmen and government officers. A legal domestic market could eliminate 61 percent of the illicit drug traffic from Mexico and lead to the end of drug-related violence, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Opponents make the dubious claim that the legalization of marijuana would increase the availability and use of the drug. But California’s marijuana laws have proven to be ineffective in the past because they fail to accomplish their purpose.

Similar to the prohibition movement with alcohol in the early twentieth century, marijuana use actually increased after it was outlawed. According to a Drug and Marijuana Arrest spreadsheet, it was only after the California legislature decriminalized possession of small quantities under the 1975 Moscone Act that marijuana arrests decreased by 36,000 on average per year. After all, sometimes it is the very nature of prohibition that makes the drug more attractive. Marijuana is still the most used illegal drug in America. More than 97.5 million Americans have tried it, according to a 2005 national survey, and some 14.6 million smoke it regularly. Thus, the only way to achieve the goal of reducing the use of marijuana is to decriminalize it.

The paranoia around marijuana in the late twentieth century is truly starting to change to a new era of acceptance. Over thirteen states, California included, allow the legal possession of medical marijuana to those who suffer from a debilitating medical condition. And just last month, Attorney General Eric Holder under the Obama administration announced that federal agents will no longer make routine raids on medicinal marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. It is time to take this initiative one step further and completely legalize marijuana in the nation.

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  • stonar on April 14, 2009 at 12:41 PM
  • yo on April 14, 2009 at 1:41 PM
    gotta get hi to get by
  • david (View Email) on April 14, 2009 at 2:52 PM
    hpe fully they do so i can can high
  • Jeff (View Email) on April 14, 2009 at 3:46 PM
    Inhaled Cannabis Vapors gives immediate, safe, effective and efficient relief from chronic nausea and vomiting due to Diabetic Neuropathic Gastroparesis. There is no drug in today's pharmacopeoia that safely (Safely being defined as a drug that leaves no permanent or fatal side effects) controls chronic nausea and vomiting except for Cannabis/Marijuana. For a government to prohibit scientific and medical research into Cannabis, while at the same time tries to delude the public as to the truth regarding marijuana use and its effects, is, in the strictest sense of the word, a 'FACIST Government' that's what we have in the United States of America. HITLER LIVES ON, unfortunatly.
  • Disgruntled Teenager (View Email) on April 14, 2009 at 4:17 PM
    This is a HORRIBLE idea! If it's legalized it will be harder for me to get my stash! Plus, those teenage drug dealers that I'm friends with will go out of business. Please ignore this op-ed and continue to buy into the prohibitionist rhetoric.
    • omg on April 20, 2009 at 8:16 AM
      Dude i know! This is exactly what im thinking! It will be way harder to get it! And it might take all the fun out of doing it...beside felling AWESOME!
  • Billy (View Email) on April 14, 2009 at 5:40 PM
    Right on, it is time!
  • Carrie (View Email) on April 14, 2009 at 6:27 PM
    Its about time, quit wasting our money on a war the US will never win. Instead turn it into profit, especially in this economy.
  • InFavorOfAB390 (View Email) on April 14, 2009 at 7:14 PM
    Opponents? who are the California politicians who oppose A.B. 390? I keep searching the web be it must be a big secret or something. I only read about those who are for it.
  • Dr. Dre on April 15, 2009 at 12:31 AM
    In my professional opinion I say:

    Smoke weed everydayyyyy.

    Stay in school chillens.
  • CloudNiner on April 15, 2009 at 9:17 AM
    Legalize it!
  • Mike R (View Email) on April 15, 2009 at 9:53 AM
    This is long overdue. It's a shame that our children are at greater risk from getting caught with pot than they are from actually smoking it. If you develop problems from smoking pot, you can simply quit smoking it. If you land a criminal record, it stays with you for life. Legalize it and regulate. Take the choice of who can buy marijuana and the resulting profits away from the black market.

    It's really a shame that 20,000,000 Americans had to be arrested for marijuana related crimes before we realize that the laws are more dangerous than the drug. What's worse, those laws didn't even make a dent in marijuana use. What a wase of American lives and American dollars.
  • 42 (View Email) on April 15, 2009 at 10:29 AM
    That is absolutely ridiculous. Marijuana is illegal for a reason!!!
    • Smarter on April 16, 2009 at 11:30 PM
      Lmao! You're an idiot
    • um... on April 20, 2009 at 8:08 AM
      And what reason is that? Please tell me because the only reason i know of is because our government is stupid.
  • johnypaycut (View Email) on April 15, 2009 at 11:27 AM
    the estimate of revenue is conservative at best, it probably doesn't take into account the support of a marijuana industry?
    growing medium, lighting, drying, and other materials would
    also contribute to a big chunk of money.
    if it is legalized, it must be done by states(federal gov. is not going to change) we are being led by the nose by the goverment, it is time to make changes, and take our future into
    our hands. we,the people are big enough, mature enough to
    handle our destiny(but out feds).
  • MadBuddhaAbuser on April 16, 2009 at 7:52 AM
    It's about time. I wonder what other states will be legalizing it.
  • Eli Barnett on April 16, 2009 at 8:09 PM

    What reason is that? To waste the time of police officers?

    Yes, it should be legal. No, it should not be legal for minors. And if the government is going to legalize it, they should increase spending on drug treatment programs. All in all, though, if adults want to smoke weed, it's their choice to be stupid. I really don't know why other people care.
  • Narc on April 16, 2009 at 8:34 PM
    Not only will legalizing marijuana increase crime, IT WILL ALSO TEACH OUR KIDS THAT DRUGS ARE GOOD. We might as well legalize crack cocaine while we're at it.

    What are we telling today's youth by legalizing marijuana? That it's okay to overeat, slack off in school, and become apathetic? This is ridiculous.

    Plus, now even FOUR YEAR OLDS will "toke" the "bud." I've looked at the studies, and they all show that drug use will SKYROCKET if marijuana is legalized. This United States will become a country of vice and sin.

    On the other hand, the junk food companies will get a boost, and we all know that in this economy we need to do anything that will improve the situation. BUT STILL!

    • what on April 18, 2009 at 11:49 PM
      the "United States will become a country of vice and sin" ?? WHo are you, tammy faye bakker?
    • Your Dumb on April 19, 2009 at 1:45 PM
      I smoke plenty and I'm going to an Ivy League school...

      I'm missing the correlation between smoking weed and failing in life. Sorry.

      Everything when done in excess is bad for you, the same applies for smoking weed.
      If you drink too much you can die.
      If you eat too many sweets you will become obese.
      If you drive too fast you will probably crash.
      If you listen to music too loud you will lose your hearing.
      The list goes on...

      As long as you smoke weed in moderation (just like if you doing everything listed above in moderation) you will still be successful and you will still be interested and exhilarated with your work.
      • Eli Barnett on April 25, 2009 at 7:51 PM
        "Your dumb"

        The irony is killing me.
        • ok.... on May 7, 2009 at 9:40 PM
          In what ways is what he said ironic?
          • BlueTyphoid on October 8, 2009 at 10:11 AM
            And no, use will not skyrocket.
            In 2001, Portugal decriminalized ALL drugs and this is what happened:
            - Drug use among teens has declined
            - Rates of HIV infection from using dirty needles has been cut by 17%
            - Portugal has had the lowest rate in Europe of lifetime marijuana use for people over 15
            - Deaths resulting from heroin and similar "hard" drugs have been cut in half
            - Drug-related crime and violence has been down
            - There's been a massive increase in the number of people seeking drug treatment
            - Rates of lifetime drug use among 7th to 9th graders went from 14.1% to 10.6%
    • um... on April 20, 2009 at 8:15 AM
      So the 4 yr olds wont "toke the bud" if there parents are paying attention...And drug use is already high.

      The US will become a place of sin? Wow. Because were not already killing innocent women and children over a stupid war thats all about oil and money.

      And see good job, even you are thinking. It will boost the economy.
    • Jon Cariba Phoenix on May 17, 2009 at 6:30 PM
      Actually, people said similar things when Prohibition was repealed, but the reality is more complicated.

      While the trends might be different depending on the substance, a general trend is this: If something is illegal or hard to get for a long time, then suddenly becomes available, a lot of people rush to do it. But the increase is only transitory. Over time (not more than one generation, since new cohorts get used to the change) the rates of use go back down. The new things becomes common place, and its appeal decreases as a result. And the use can go down further if there is a concerted grassroots effort to change people's opinions.

      A good example of this is post-WWII Europe and food. During the war, depression, and hyperinflation before that, Europeans had trouble affording food. When it became available again, they binged. But before long, people realized that almost everything in excess is bad, and so began a concerted grassroots campaign against obesity. Combined with decent social policies like better public transportation, food in Europe reached a healthy balance ~ easily acquired, but not eaten in excess nearly as much as here.

      Similar processes can likely be seen in the US after prohibition, and in Holland as drugs were legalized there. Even though cocaine is legal there, the fact that its boringly commonplace combined with campaigns against its misuse means that drug abuse rates there are lower.

      And this makes sense because think about it: when it comes to something like alcohol or smoking or drugs, people will they do it if they have attitudes that supports that type of behavior. If you want a real effect, these attitudes must change. Changing the law is solely superficial.

      And mind you ~ this isn't only true for pot. In countries where governments are or were trying to reduce birthrates, its the attitudes towards birth control they try to change. In the United States, we have a much more accepting stance towards birth control now, and that's a major cause (not just a correlation) for why he have lower birth-rates. Changes that significant didn't come from the law ~ they came from decades of grassroots organizing.

      So if you're really against pot, or the hedonism that it might imply to you (though it doesn't imply that to everyone), a better route would be to legalize it. Then start a decade long campaign like the anti-smoking people did. That campaign did a lot more to reduce cigarette smoking than making cigarettes illegal ever does or did.

      And if people think this doesn't work, consider that Holland was ranked as the number 1 most child friendly industrialized country by I think UNICEF. The US ranked 15th out of the 15 countries analyzed. So clearly the Dutch are doing something right.
  • strawberry (View Email) on April 16, 2009 at 9:49 PM
    other states should follow their lead
  • . on April 18, 2009 at 8:01 PM
    I think all mind-altering OR addictive drugs/substances should be illegalized. This means alcohol, too. There is no good reason to make them legal.
    • Whaaaa on April 20, 2009 at 8:11 PM
      "OR" ??

    • Eli Barnett on April 22, 2009 at 12:11 AM
      Oh noes, caffeine!

    • a on May 8, 2009 at 12:58 PM
      lols. So every prescription should be illegal? Causing millions of deaths every year. Grats. your point is soooooo valid
  • Eli Barnett on April 19, 2009 at 2:02 AM
    Hey, narc.

    You're a terribly unsubtle troll.
  • um... on April 20, 2009 at 8:12 AM
    Everyone thinks wayyyy too much. Um so if people want to smoke some weed then let them. I mean why dont we just worry about ourselves and not about other people.
  • Eli Barnett on April 20, 2009 at 10:32 PM
    @ "."

    So, you think things should be illegal by default until someone produces a reason to legalize them?

    I'd hate to have you in my government
  • Zmflavius (View Email) on April 21, 2009 at 10:07 AM
    I really think that if it is legalized, then it should get a minimum age standard similar to the one for alcohol and cigarettes.
  • luna on April 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM
    they should do this in new jersey:)
  • Xavier on April 21, 2009 at 1:42 PM
    For all the white kids saying "YES! Legalize Marijuana, it's about time" please be quiet and stop attempting to act cool and show off. Legalizing this substance would promote its unnecessary use and make kids stupider. please grow up
  • hehe on April 21, 2009 at 5:20 PM
    this shoulda been posted on 4/20 =)
  • wow on May 4, 2009 at 8:05 AM
    @ Xavier

    "for all the white kids"
    wow how stupid can you be. So are you saying that all the black or hispanic or asians who say it should be legalized can say that? Besides half o fthe comments on here are anonymous so i highly doubt that by them posting it they think they are acting "cool".
    Some people actually think it will help the economy abd theyre not just wanting it to become legal so they can smoke it. So how bout we leave race outta this.
  • wow on May 4, 2009 at 8:07 AM
    @ Xavier

    oh yeah and btw, Stupider is not a word. Im so glad you decided to state your opinion.
  • Steve (View Email) on May 16, 2009 at 5:23 AM
    How about making it into pill form and treating it like some Controlled Dangerous Substance? Whall-a!!!
  • skater on May 28, 2009 at 1:08 PM
    weed has 0 reported deaths. alcohol has thousands, if not millions. weed is not addictive. plus, anyone who wants to smoke it right now, will. as long as its illegal, innocent people will go to jail
  • corruptionMuch?? on June 18, 2009 at 10:58 PM
    thats so dumb. y dont we just legalize all drugs cause thats what the world is comin too. Money is just corruptin the way the wrld is runnin. its like saying "if we legalize drugs the government will get more money! we dont care about the health of the future generation, we just want to get rich and [if more drugs are legalized] die fast"
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