Saturday, October 2, 2010

Support Proposition 19!

After seeing this article I was briefly duped into opposition of Proposition 19, the California ballot initiative to legalize marijuana.

Several of the points seemed at first like valid counterpoints to Proposition 19, even for those who support marijuana legalization.

First, the argument that this conflicts with federal law about employer's rights and responsibilities to drug test.  Proposition 19 specifically outlaws pre-employment or during-employment testing for THC unless the employer can prove that an employee's performance was performed.  Federal law requires drug testing for certain professions.  Remember that there is a hierarchy of jurisdictions, and that Federal law trumps State law, especially in areas where the Federal government has a valid, Constitutional claim to jurisdiction.  While there are some truckers, train operators, pilots, etc. who do not cross state lines, the majority do, or, during the course of their careers, could.  The professions covered by the Federal requirement are, for the most part, very clearly covered under the Interstate Commerce Clause.  Thus, the contradiction doesn't really exist.  A pilot, driver, or train operator crossing state lines must meet Federal requirements, including drug testing.

Second, taxation and regulation.  While I think that one of the biggest selling points has been the tax and regulate potentials of legalization, I don't think this is what is important.  As a principal, we should have the right to choose what to do to our bodies.  Moreover, the legalization would still raise tax revenue, even without marijuana-specific taxes.  The trade in marijuana, especially in the state of California, is huge.  Even without specific taxes on cannabis, the sales tax revenue alone could greatly help California's budget.

The argument that the smell of marijuana could be offensive, and everyone can have an outdoor 5x5 garden.  The smell of trash and dog poop is offensive.  The smell of curry is offensive to many.  The smell of some other plants, or of compost bins, is offensive.  People will just have to survive.

The argument that this will increase crime, citing recent break ins at medical marijuana growth plots.  This is actually one of the best arguments for legalization.  If marijuana were more readily available, and could by grown by anyone, people would not have the incentive to break into someone else's plot to steal their pot.

I have always been a proponent of supporting a specific policy, not a broad slogan or a general principle.  But legalizing marijuana is the first step.  Let the legislature iron out the details later.  The immediate benefits, from the perspectives of politics, liberties, and economics, far outweigh the negative.  The medium-term benefits of lowering incarceration rates for non-violent drug offenses alone will provide huge economic benefits to the state, especially in a state whose current prison overpopulation was recently ruled to be cruel and unusual punishment.  Californians, vote YES on Prop 19.

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