Prop. 19 a bad law for California VCStar / 09,25,2010 Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not only fail to solve California's budget mess as its supporters would suggest, it will burden our state with additional problems, added costs and unintended consequences. There is no evidence that legalizing and taxing a dangerous drug will make our communities safer. In fact, law-enforcement professionals in California believe the opposite will occur. The legalization of marijuana will increase demand and create new users. Those not wanting to pay the taxes on the drug will grow their own or look to the black market. The violent drug cartel will have an open and legal market in California to sell their marijuana. There will be no way to determine taxed legal marijuana from cartel marijuana. Drug dealers do not pay taxes now and they will not pay taxes if marijuana is labeled legal. There is ample evidence that, like alcohol and tobacco, the social costs associated with legalizing and taxing marijuana will far outweigh the tax revenue raised. Currently, for every $1 collected in taxes on alcohol and tobacco, $9 is spent in social costs, according to a study by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Do we really need additional drug users and additional social problems? Marijuana is a harmful and addictive drug that has ostensibly been labeled medicine by some. Even though it requires a â€œlegalâ€ prescription, the abuses have been profound and it has brought violence to many neighborhoods. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca recently stated, â€œThe medical marijuana program that voters authorized has been hijacked by underground drug-dealing criminals who are resorting to violence to control their piece of the action.â€ His comments were made in the wake of a triple homicide in Los Angeles tied to the medicinal marijuana industry. We also know that the legalization of a dangerous drug will increase impaired drivers on the roadway. Proving impairment by people under the influence of marijuana is presently difficult and there is no roadside breath test which can provide presumptive proof to law enforcement. For that matter, there is no test which can be used for a heavy equipment operator, an airline pilot or a school bus driver. Do you really want marijuana legalized? It is ironic that in a state that bans trans fats, soda machines in schools and wants to ban smoking cigarettes in private residences that we would somehow have a ballot initiative to legalize a dangerous drug that has 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogens than tobacco, harms the brains of the adolescent and chronic users, impairs the judgment of drivers and puts the public at risk. Legalizing marijuana will put a tremendous burden on law enforcement, community safety and our healthcare system. Mental health officials who understand the problems of addiction and mind- altering drugs agree that legalizing marijuana would have disastrous effects on public health. There are obvious reasons why marijuana is illegal and it should stay that way. We do not need more bad laws in California. Vote no on Proposition 19. The authors This commentary was submitted by the Ventura County Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee: - Bob Brooks, Ventura County sheriff; Chief Ken Corney, Ventura Police Department; Chief John Crombach, Oxnard Police Department; Chief Mike Lewis, Simi Valley Police Department; Chief Stephen MacKinnon, Santa Paula Police Department; and Greg Totten, Ventura County district attorney. The authors of this article are the ones that receive and distribute the ONDCP drug enforcement funding for the vigorous drug law enforcement and therefore are not trying to protect and serve as much as they are trying to protect and save their funding.