Yes and No on Pot Prop

Fighting over plan to tax and regulate pot in California

Fighting continues over plan to tax and regulate pot in California
Fighting continues over plan to tax and regulate pot in California

It looks like the historic attempt to tax and regulate pot sales and use in California is pushing ever closer to the finish line despite the best efforts of the federal narcos and political fixtures.

First up, the latest poll news: According to the California Field poll, the yes votes are pulling into the lead in the question of whether the state should pass Prop 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. The latest poll counted 49% in favor of the measure, which was trailing by four points in July.

That leap forward is interesting, especially when you consider that it has come during a time of fairly intense Prop 19 bashing by the usual suspects, which is to say drug cops and established politicians. For example, nine former administrators of the Drug Enforcement Administration came together last month to pen a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, imploring his office to stand up against the proposition, citing that the measure would be a "clear conflict" with established law and (oh the horror!) would undermine the current drug-control strategy, which is to say it might undermine the losing war on drugs. And we can't have that now, can we?

Opposition has also come from California's Democratic U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer who have signed on to the opponent campaign, No On Prop 19, the site that calls the proposition a "jumbled, legal nightmare!" The arguments against the prop are fairly expected, so I won't go into them here. Suffice it to say that they argue passage of the law would make neighborhoods and kids less safe, and would create conflict with federal law. Moreover, they argue that there isn't really an effective way to impose taxes, so growers could just hoarde home-grown dope without putting a penny into state coffers. Supporters of the measure, of course, have countered these claims at length.

Of course it doesn't help the No on 19 crowd when the loonies step in to help. Case in point: Last week the Heritage Foundation stepped in with a position paper about why California residents should "just say no" to the proposed law. Among their arguments are these extremely dubious – if not just flat out wrong – claims: "Marijuana is not at all like alcohol," reads the paper. "Consumption of alcohol carries few health risks and even offers some significant benefits." In contrast, the paper's author, Charles D. Stimson, writes that marijuana use is associated with "cancer," "birth defects," elevates the "risk of heart attack" and causes "brain damage." And alcohol does none of that, right?

In the end, the measure's supporters still feel confident that passing Prop 19 is a common sense drug law reform measure. That's a no-brainer for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a collective of former and current cops, prosecutors, judges, and correctional officers who advocate for an end to the drug war. In a Sept. 13 letter to California voters, they explained well their position on Prop 19. "As law enforcement professionals, we especially want voters to understand that legalization will allow us to do our jobs more effectively and safely," they wrote. "In 2008, there were over 60,000 arrests for simple misdemeanor cannabis possession in California, yet nearly 60,000 violent crimes went unsolved in our state that same year. When we change our cannabis laws, police officers will no longer have to waste time on low-level cannabis arrests; we'll be able to focus on protecting the public from murderers, rapists, drunk drivers and burglars," they continued. "Let's vote to control and tax cannabis this November – for safety's sake."

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marijuana, Reefer Madness, Proposition 19, LEAP, DEA, drug war

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