During the November elections in California, over 4.6 million voters had their opinions heard. Constituting 46.5 percent of the voting population, their intention was to make cannabis legal. Though the measure didn't pass, hope still surges that it will in the 2012 elections.
The measure in question, Proposition 19, was a plan for marijuana to be made legal, taxed and controlled. Adults 21 and over would be able to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and state and local governments would get the ability to put taxes on the sale of the substance. It also gave local powers the ability to decide whether cannabis can be bought or sold within their jurisdictions.
The pro-Proposition 19 website Yes on 19 says that up to $1.4 billion of revenue each year could be raised from the taxation of cannabis, which could help the failing California economy. The site also says that Proposition 19 could generate $12-18 billion from the industry, and could create up to 110,000 new jobs; of course, this is assuming that California's marijuana industry could become as large as its wine industry.
Currently, medical marijuana is legal in California. The conditions that can be treated with marijuana include AIDS, arthritis and cancer. Marijuana is also approved to treat non-disease aliments such as chronic pain, migraines, muscle spasms, seizures and nausea. To be able to obtain marijuana, one needs to fill out a form for their county and get approval from their doctor.
Normally, the doctor is the gatekeeper as to whether one can get medical marijuana or not, but because of the many uses of the drug, it’s not difficult to get the green light. For example, depression affects over 21 million Americans, and is an approved condition to receive a prescription for medicinal marijuana.
With marijuana being “sometimes” okay, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of reason for patients to lie or falsify their conditions to get approved or for doctors to falsely approve patients. The law in California also enables patients to have plants, allowing them to grow their own marijuana instead of relying on controlled dispensaries.
During Prohibition, where alcohol was illegal in the United States, it was still legal to obtain liquor through a pharmacist, and many people cheated the system in order to get a drink. There’s no reason to assume that this is any different with medical marijuana. If someone wants to be prescribed marijuana badly enough, they will find a way to get it. The National Research Council says that there is no evidence that legalizing marijuana would increase drug use. And with marijuana being controlled and legal, there wouldn’t be a need for it to be smuggled or obtained deceitfully.
No system for controlling a substance is perfect, and Proposition 19 would remove the screen of semi-legality that medical marijuana brings. If marijuana is going to be legal, then it should be fully legal, otherwise people will undermine the system with lying and deceit. The past has already shown that the Prohibition didn't work, so why would it be any different today? Proposition 19 is only necessary if the state plans on making marijuana legal. Otherwise, it should be completely illegal. Medical marijuana leaves too much of a gap in the system.
The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Reporter.