Is it High Time to Legalize Cannabis?

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by oltex, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. Is it High Time to Legalize Cannabis?
    HuffingtonPost / Josh Rushing / 10,8,2010

    We travel to California for our latest episode of Fault Lines where we take a look at the issues surrounding the legalization of Cannabis ahead of November's Prop 19 vote. While some may attempt to oversimplify the proposition as the right to get high, at the heart of the debate are very real issues.

    We spoke to Humbolt county deputy sheriff Cyrus Silva, who has been on the front lines of Cannabis eradication in Northern California for years. As the law enforcement helicopter returns from another mission, the goateed and straight-talking Silva says, "Marijuana runs this county." A massive bale of Cannabis drops from a chopper to the officers at the landing zone. "It goes all the way back to, you know, the hippies in the 60s and 70s."

    The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is partnered with CAMP--the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. The multi-agency task force falls under the California Justice Department. Last year it uprooted 4.4 million plants, a staggering stand-alone number that pales as one local law enforcement official explains this figure represents only one percent of marijuana growth in Humboldt county.

    Considering the economic downturn has left California in a state of crisis with a deficit around 20 billion dollars that not even two years of budget cuts led by Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger have been able to rectify, some argue that state funds should be diverted from the dismal success of CAMP's venture and put to better use. Throw a dart in California and you'll hit an organization lacking in funds: social programs have been hacked to the bone; health care and welfare programs for working poor families have been dismantled; teachers, firemen and police officers have been laid off. As reported before on Fault Lines:


    Many see Prop 19 as part of the solution to the state's economic woes as advocates highlight the annual $1.4 billion in revenues alone that taxing marijuana sales would produce.

    From a criminal justice standpoint, the passage of Prop 19 would funnel precious taxpayer dollars and human resources from prosecuting marijuana offences--of which a disproportionate number of black and Latino men languish in prison for minor drug offences--to more important projects like prosecuting serious offenders.

    Then across the border the drug war--the real drug war waged by Mexican drug cartels--has left tens of thousands dead. Proponents believe Prop 19 would deal a massive blow to cartel operations and curb much of the drug-related violence.
    Yet as strong as the economic and criminal justice arguments for the legalization of marijuana may seem, critics of Prop 19 raise their own valid concerns.

    One medical distillery owner tells me that the state still doesn't have a handle on medical marijuana--made legal in 1996--and the proposition would only exacerbate the existing 14-year chaos. The California Chamber of Commerce claims Cannabis would produce an unparalleled legal minefield for employers by compromising workplace safety.

    A drug abuse preventionist cautions that increased availability of a drug is directionally proportional to its usage among minors. In an era where 20 percent of 8th graders report they have experimented with Cannabis and drug testing programs have shown that up to 66 percent of underage, male arrestees tested positive for marijuana, opponents have more than a solid leg to stand on.

    If prop 19 passes, California will become the latest state set on a collision course with the Federal Government. In a recent letter to attorney general Eric Holder, nine former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration urged the justice department to prevent Prop 19 from becoming law by "assert[ing] the constitution's supremacy clause".

    Back at the helicopter landing zone, I ask deputy Silva what it would actually take to eradicate cannabis from Humboldt county. His answer is conclusive: "An act of God. I mean, there's just so much dope out here it's crazy."

    Cannabis is called weed for a reason. Once its roots take hold, it's there to stay, no matter what happens on November 2nd.


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