cannabisnews.com: It is Time To Drop Prohibition Against Marijuana
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It is Time To Drop Prohibition Against Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on May 17, 2010 at 15:10:09 PT
By John Russo, Guest Commentary
Source: Tri-Valley Herald
California -- When it comes to marijuana policy, California has been stuck in a fairy tale for decades. This fairy tale is like "The Emperor's New Clothes." Everybody can see that marijuana prohibition has done nothing to prevent its use. It's clear that arresting tens of thousands Californians every year for misdemeanor possession diverts police resources away from violent felonies. And nobody is blind to the fact that marijuana has funded and empowered the sociopathic drug cartels responsible for untold suffering and violence on both sides of the border.
It's time for Californians to acknowledge the truth about the war on marijuana. Not only is it ineffective  it directly compromises public safety in our state.In November, California can become the first state to recognize this reality by passing the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.This smart initiative would legalize personal cultivation and possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Individual cities could strictly regulate distribution and sales as they see fit. It would increase the penalty for providing marijuana to minors, and sales by unlicensed dealers  those now funding the cartels and wreaking havoc in our cities  would still be illegal.California banned cannabis almost a century ago based on sensational and unscientific notions about the plant. Modern prohibition, based on some of the same anachronistic ideas, has failed to control widespread availability and use.Others have made common sense arguments about the economic benefits of taxing what is by far California's largest cash crop. Estimated tax revenue from sales alone would be $1.4 billion  money that could go to public schools, law enforcement and other underfunded services.As city attorney of Oakland  a city where dozens of people are killed in drug-related murders every year  my primary concern is the war on marijuana's collateral damage to public safety. Like prohibition of alcohol in the last century, marijuana prohibition has empowered vast and violent criminal enterprises. The drug cartels that threaten the peace on our streets and weaken national security on our border get more than 60 percent of their revenue from marijuana sales in the U.S., according to federal authorities.Money is the oxygen of these organizations. Our approach to fighting drug gangs has been like trying to put out a house fire with a watering can. Why not try shutting off the fire's main oxygen supply?The financial and human costs of enforcing prohibition are enormous. While we criminalize thousands of Californians for low-level marijuana offenses, police departments lack resources to solve and stop major crimes. More than 61,000 people were arrested in California for misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2008. That same year, about 60,000 violent crimes went unsolved statewide.Regulating and controlling marijuana is really a law-and-order measure. It takes marijuana off street corners and out of the hands of children. It cuts off a huge source of revenue to the violent gangsters who now control the market. And it gives law enforcement more capacity to focus on what really matters to Californians  making our communities safer.It's time we call marijuana prohibition what it is  an outdated and costly approach that has failed to benefit our society. In November, we will finally have the chance to take a rational course with the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act. John Russo is Oakland city attorney.Source: Tri-Valley Herald (Pleasanton, CA)Author: John Russo, Guest CommentaryPublished: May 17, 2010Copyright: 2010 ANG NewspapersContact: herlet angnewspapers.comURL: http://drugsense.org/url/ValFsDKjWebsite: http://www.insidebayarea.com/trivalleyheraldCannabisNews -- Cannabis Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/cannabis.shtml 
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Comment #1 posted by Jim Leighton on May 18, 2010 at 08:23:36 PT:
The much anticipated vote 
in November for California's legalization effort is already shaking the powers that control prohibition . They will have to concoct new lies because the old ones are exposed . Drug cartels don't want us growing our own , their money will be found opposing this legislation . Pharmaseutical companies oppose legalization , they will lose big money , so they too will anti up . The many industies that will take a hit if cannabis/hemp is free ,timber,textiles,agriculture are in various degrees opposed because they stand to lose as well . Cannabis can be grown almost anywhere by anyone willing to work the earth .If you are in a Prison workers union , your job is likely created by prohibition , you vote no on this .
The thinking people of California have a chance to confront these behemoths by passing this ,"intelligent legislation". 
In Oregon , we are struggling to get a legalization inititive on the ballot . If you can help contact , "OCTA", www.cannabistaxact.org , it would be a benefit to us all if Oregon and Washington joined California to present a united front in this legalization effort .
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