The legalization of marijuana, Proposition 19, is one of the most controversial and fiercely debated issues on the Nov. 2 ballot.
People for legalization argue that its illegalization that has caused massive harm and can never work. They believe that it only makes sense to legalize something that would destroy a $14 billion black market run by gangsters and cartels, and transform it into a legal, controlled market, eliminating law-enforcement costs and generating new tax revenue.
“Prohibition has failed, as well as the war on drugs,” Campus Organizer Ezan Nison of yes on Prop. 19 said. “We need to legitimize a $14 billion industry, which will bring in $1.4 billion in revenue.”
“This is definitely going to slow down the Cartels’ revenues. Sixty percent of their profit is due to selling marijuana to Americans.”
Nison argues that decades of marijuana prohibition has been a disaster. He argues that all it has created is millions of arrests and billions of dollars spent.
“There are no cons I believe. If anything we will see an initial spike in marijuana usage and some people will try it for their first time. This experimentation will initially end though,” said Nison.
On Oct. 20, USA Today stated that anyone in California who wants marijuana can easily acquire it. Large scale enforcement efforts have simply made drug cartels rich, and the black market violence has hurt innocent people. Teenagers get marijuana more easily than alcohol because drug dealers don’t ask for proof of age.
USA Today said on the same day, that since marijuana is illegal, it can’t be taxed. People want law enforcement to protect them but policemen are distracted by futile marijuana enforcement.
“I’m going to vote yes,” GCC sophomore Cassey Wright said. “So many people do it anyways so why not make a profit out of it?”
Many argue that the important question of whether or not laws criminalizing marijuana have effectively reduced supply and use. This isn’t the case.
On Oct. 16, The Los Angeles Times said despite billions spent on anti-cannabis law enforcement and a 30 percent increase in the number of arrests since 2005, marijuana remains the most frequently used illegal substance. These include drug dealing, trafficking, as well as usage and possession of marijuana.
It is estimated that $10 billion is spent each year enforcing cannabis laws, yet a continual study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has concluded that over the last 30 years, the drug has remained “universally available to 12th graders,” with 80 to 90 percent stating that the drug is easy to obtain.
The United States is the nation with the highest drug usage according to the Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times on Oct. 16 reported that in the Netherlands, where marijuana has been sold and distributed in “coffee shops” since the 1970s, about 20 percent of the adult population has used the drug at some time in their lives. In the United States, where the drug is for the most part illegal, 42 percent of the adult population has used marijuana.
CNN reported on Oct. 19, that even former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders supports legalizing marijuana.
“What I think is horrible about all of this, is that we criminalize young people,” Elders said. “And we use so many of our excellent resources. for things that aren’t really causing any problems,” Elders added. “It’s not a toxic substance.”
In regards to scientific consensus, while cannabis may pose some health risks, they are less serious than those posed by alcohol and tobacco products. The answer to this issue of alcohol and nicotine hasn’t been to criminalize their purchase, but to regulate their distribution, impose taxes on their purchase and educate the public about their potential health risks.
This has been effective, especially with the decrease of cigarette consumption.
Many compare the prohibition of alcohol to marijuana being illegal.
The Daily Caller on Oct. 20 received a call from a Hispanic mother who said she had seen more families in the Latin American community destroyed by alcohol than by marijuana. Domestic abuse counseling was administered to a group of Latino males, asking them if they had been under the influence of cannabis when they abused their partners.
They looked at the reporters in shock, saying that, “People don’t fight when they’re stoned. When asked if alcohol was involved, 14 out of 15 hands would go up.
“If alcohol’s legal it’s stupid that weed is illegal,” GCC sophomore Mihai Sfetcu said. “With alcohol you get enraged, with weed you just get hungry. It might benefit the economy to. The government can make money off of it. There will be fewer arrests. There are negatives of course, same with alcohol though,” Sfetcu added.
A GCC student, who wanted to remain anonymous said to legalize it. “There is evidence of medicinal whiskey during the prohibition period. You could go to the doctor and get your prescription, and then get your booze and that’s it. That’s basically what’s going on now.”
Even several religious organizations in California have signaled their support for Prop.19, according to The Daily Caller on Oct. 20. Though with every debate there is the opposing side to the spectrum.
For the most part people are against the initial legalization of marijuana. On Oct. 18, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Visalia Times-Delta urged their readers to vote no on Prop.19. They called it a poorly-written initiative designed to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California.
The San Diego Union-Tribune believes that the proposition “may be the worst drafted legislation since 1996.”
They claimed, as well, that the proposition would allow every one of California’s cities and counties to develop their own laissez-fair style of schemes for the cultivation, processing, distribution, transportation, and sale of marijuana.
They believe that it would create a legal catastrophe for employers. A business would be limited when addressing marijuana usage while at work; unless it could prove that an employee’s job performance was actually impaired, thus restricting the employer’s efforts to create a safe, drug-free workplace.
Tim Rosales, the Campaign Manager for No on Proposition 19, believes just that.
“An employer will not be able to discriminate against anyone who uses marijuana,” he said. “If you came to work with alcohol on your breath you can be sent home. If you came to work high, an employer cannot send you home.”
In his argument Rosales explained that it is not the easiest task to see if someone is under the influence especially for an individual who is not familiar with the drug, and employers are not.
“I am against legalization. I don’t feel right with people being under the influence. I want to become a police officer, and in general allowing people to do it in public, people will make stupid decisions under the influence,” said sophomore Jose Diaz.
Diaz believes legalization will increase crime rates. He still believes though that some people do need the drug for medical purposes but, “To be completely legalized, I’m against it.” added Diaz.
Another issue is how loosely developed the proposition is. On Oct. 18 The Visalia Times-Delta explained that the bigger problems come from other provisions of the proposition.
The Visalia Times-Delta explained that it would allow local governments to authorize, regulate and tax commercial marijuana-related activities, including production, transportation and sale as previously stated by The San Diego Union-Tribune.
“But Prop. 19 doesn’t offer any specific guidelines on how to do that.”
“It’s so full of contradictions and loop holes. There is no tax included in Prop. 19.
It tells cities to figure it out (taxes) themselves,” Rosales said. Rosales says that the proposition will be severely detrimental.
“There going to take weed to the point where no ones going to want to smoke it. The only reason they want to legalize it is to make money,” GCC freshmen Daveon Samuel said.
Samuels explained that legalizing marijuana may lead to other drugs becoming legal. He sarcastically stated, “Let’s tax all the drugs.”
People who are against legalizing marijuana think that it’s usage will lead to other, harder drugs such a cocaine, heroin, or ecstasy.
“I think it would be someone’s first drug to try, especially in high school, and think its nothing, and than lead to PCP, heroin, or cocaine,” Crescenta Valley Deputy Officer Nocira Valdez said.
She added, “Only people, who need it, such as for medical reasons, should use it. People are taking advantage of medical marijuana. People would abuse it highly, even minors.”
Many worry about the structure of the proposition. Will people be allowed to have cannabis farms of any size? When would the drug be taxed, at sale or production, or both?
The Visalia Times-Delta said things are confusing enough with marijuana. Prop. 19 will only add to this confusion without administering regulation, revenue or consistency.
Even the California Cannabis Association is against Prop. 19. It may be for legalization, but it is against the proposition itself because they see how badly crafted it is.
Many against legalization strongly believe that the drug cartels will barely be affected by legalization.
“Legalization of marijuana would have little effect on drug cartels. First, cartels also distribute many other drugs. Second, it would set up a legal platform in which they could operate and distribute marijuana to other states,” Rosales said.
He added that drugs are much less easy to smuggle over state borders and that legalization may even improve business for cartels, because they will be able to legally grow marijuana within the state.
“After the prohibition of alcohol, the mafia didn’t go away, they simply moved on to something else.” said Rosales.
Many GCC students strongly oppose the legalization of marijuana. “When I stopped smoking weed, first I found God, and through forming a relationship with him, I started getting better grades, better friends. The quality of my life simply improved when I stopped smoking. I’m basically against legalization,” GCC freshman Kevin Markonich said.
“It’s going to reduce violence, but in the end people are going to use more of it. I’m against legalization. People will get bored with marijuana. You’re going to expand your options. You don’t plan on it, it just happens,” GCC student Anaeis Ebrahimi explained.
Some find that violence may even increase, such as Glendale sophomore Stanley Vaughn.
“People are going to start stickin’ up weed shops. Their going to make weed a grocery store,” Vaughn said.
Many find the reasoning behind the proposition to be ethically wrong.
“I’m going to vote against it,” said sophomore Ashley Rodriguez. I don’t think its right. Everyone’s looking at it at from a money standpoint, and I see it as ethically wrong.”
There are many pros and cons to Proposition 19. It is now in the hands of the voters to decide what they believe is right or wrong. The elections on Nov. 2 will decide the fate of the proposition.