November 02, 2010

Election Day Endorsements Part 2: Oh, shit, man, what time is it, did the polls already close?

It's probably too late to make proper endorsements, half-way thru election day, since so many people vote early in California anyway. I'm nervous about the fate of Prop 19, which has been behind in the polls, & could be the last realistic time for awhile to end prohibition. The bloggers for itwaslost are more champagne drinkers & hookah smokers, not cannabis connoisseurs, but there's been a lot of good arguments everywhere why Prop 19 benefits the whole state, not just those who ever plan on smoking some pot legally. Former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara has been campaigning from a law enforcement angle, he's written some good editorials & stars in this tv ad:

I also really liked the sound arguments laid down by the New York Times' Nicholas Krystof:

[...]Our nearly century-long experiment in banning marijuana has failed as abysmally as Prohibition did, and California may now be pioneering a saner approach. Sure, there are risks if California legalizes pot. But our present drug policy has three catastrophic consequences.

First, it squanders billions of dollars that might be better used for education. California now spends more money on prisons than on higher education. It spends about $216,000 per year on each juvenile detainee, and just $8,000 on each child in the troubled Oakland public school system.

Each year, some 750,000 Americans are arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Is that really the optimal use of our police force?

In contrast, legalizing and taxing marijuana would bring in substantial sums that could be used to pay for schools, libraries or early childhood education. A Harvard economist, Jeffrey A. Miron, calculates that marijuana could generate $8.7 billion in tax revenue each year if legalized nationally, while legalization would also save the same sum annually in enforcement costs.

That’s a $17 billion swing in the nation’s finances — enough to send every 3- and 4-year-old in a poor family to a high-quality preschool. And that’s an investment that would improve education outcomes and reduce crime and drug use in the future — with enough left over to pay for an extensive nationwide campaign to discourage drug use.

The second big problem with the drug war is that it has exacerbated poverty and devastated the family structure of African-Americans. Partly that’s because drug laws are enforced inequitably. Black and Latino men are much more likely than whites to be stopped and searched and, when drugs are found, prosecuted.

Here in Los Angeles, blacks are arrested for marijuana possession at seven times the rate whites are, according to a study by the Drug Policy Alliance, which favors legalization. Yet surveys consistently find that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than young blacks.

Partly because of drug laws, a black man now has a one-in-three chance of serving time in prison at some point in his life, according to the Sentencing Project, a group that seeks reform in the criminal justice system. This makes it more difficult for black men to find jobs, more difficult for black women to find suitable husbands, and less common for black children to grow up in stable families with black male role models. So, sure, drugs have devastated black communities — but the remedy of criminal sentencing has made the situation worse.

He continues with more about crime and gangs and pot's risks.
There's also a really compelling environmental reason which not many people are discussing. It goes something along the lines of: Grow houses use a disgusting amount of electricity & water, much of it pirated from the grid. Let's let the sun do the work growing the state's pot! And if you don't believe there's untold thousands of grow houses peppered around California in every neighborhood, then there's some oregano in a baggy I'd like to sell you.
And lastly, a word about the opposition. Take for instance the wording of the Los Angeles Times' "No" endorsement: "The marijuana legalization measure is poorly thought out, badly crafted and replete with loopholes and contradictions." This is just something its opponents have made up, to make it sound like it was written by irresponsible stoners, knowing most of us aren't political enough to read the details of the bill ourselves. Exactly the opposite is true. The San Francisco Chronicle's Debra J Saunders wrote:

The establishment spin goes something like this: Even if marijuana legalization makes sense, Prop. 19 is so poorly written that voters must reject it.

Bunk. The measure is tightly written to give state and local governments unimpeded authority in deciding whether to allow the sale of marijuana, and if so, how to tax and regulate it.

There won't be a better bill. Marijuana prohibition enables and enriches criminal cartels and gangs. Californians have a chance to end the madness, and voters should grab it.

As for the Stoners Against 19 campaign, led by Dragonfly Whatshername, I don't even want to respond to them. It's naive! When you weigh, on one side, decriminalizing something millions of people do safely, versus, on the other side, things are fine as they are & omg what if tobacco companies want to sell pot!? then there's just no contest. Sure, having millions on non-criminals smoking pot illegally is a copacetic status quo. If you're white.

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