Seeing The Benefits of Legalizing Weed

Seeing The Benefits of Legalizing Weed
Posted by CN Staff on March 08, 2009 at 05:43:33 PT
By Tom Hennessy
Source: Contra Costa Times
USA -- It's an idea whose time has come, gone, and may now be returning. Legalize marijuana. Looking for a new revenue source, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, last week introduced a bill to regulate the cultivation of pot and tax its sale. Despite its illegality, marijuana is said to be the state's largest cash crop ($14billion), ahead of vegetables ($5.9billion) and grapes ($2.6billion).
Tax collectors estimate that Ammiano's proposal would produce $1.3billion in new tax revenue for Sacramento. Some experts, however, doubt the accuracy of that figure. Because legalizing marijuana will reduce its value, they say the $1.3billion figure may be inflated. Still, Ammiano's proposal could promise savings to taxpayers in other areas. Decriminalizing marijuana, for example, will lower the cost of law enforcement, now estimated to be about $170million a year in the state.  Critical Overcrowding   With incarceration of marijuana offenders costing taxpayers an estimated $40,000 a year per inmate, legalization would also reduce prison costs. California has about 1,500 prisoners serving time for marijuana offenses. That's 10 times as many as in 1980, says Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, an organization aimed at reforming marijuana laws. But with the state's prison population having reached levels that may be unconstitutional, three federal judges said last month that as much as 40percent of prisoners may eventually have to be released. Gieringer also offers this consideration, "Marijuana is reported to account for 61percent of the illicit drug traffic from Mexico, where prohibition-related violence has killed over 6,800." Legalization will not come easily. Of all the obstacles it faces, the federal government may be the most formidable. It has opposed pot use for decades, even in the 13 states whose laws allow sales of marijuana for medical purposes. But there are signs that enforcement attitudes are changing, at least in the area of medical marijuana sales. Attorney General Eric Holder is said to oppose further raids on those dispensing medical marijuana. And looming in the background is a campaign promise made by Barack Obama during his run for president: "I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users." Asked about this after the inauguration, Holder noted, "What he said during the campaign is now American policy." Approving medical marijuana is no guarantee that all pot will be made legal by the feds. But many see it as a possible step in that direction. Officials of the Drug Enforcement Administration, usually quick to condemn traffic in pot, have been declining to comment of late. On the federal level, a bill similar to Ammiano's has been introduced by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. Interests that are to oppose legalization of marijuana include drug companies, the California prison guards union and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Flip-Flop Confession   I was once personally opposed to legalizing pot, but my opinion changed after meeting James P. Gray, now a retired Superior Court judge in Orange County. Gray was present last week at Ammiano's press conference and had this to say: "I served 25 years on the bench and I've seen the results of this attempted prohibition. It doesn't make marijuana less available, but it does clog the court system. The stronger we get on marijuana, the softer we get with regard to all other prosecutions because we have only so many resources." He also told those in the audience, "You and I as adults can go home tonight and drink 10 martinis. It's not a healthy thing to do but it's not illegal." Which brings to mind Ammiano's answer when Slate, the online magazine, asked if he smokes marijuana. "I certainly experimented," he said. "But I'm more of a martini guy." Let the debate on legalizing begin. Again. Tom Hennessy's column appears on Sundays. Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)Author: Tom HennessyPublished: March 7, 2009Copyright: 2009 Bay Area News GroupContact: letters cctimes.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #22 posted by Hope on March 10, 2009 at 08:29:16 PT
Thank you, Paul. You're an upright man.
Are you going to submit something in reply?
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Comment #21 posted by paul armentano on March 09, 2009 at 10:30:41 PT
Thanks for highlighting Lyndon Lafferty's ad hominem attack of me in my hometown paper. It's always sobering to have local law enforcement attacking you in print where you and you family live. That said, I think his screed does more to undermine pot prohibition than I ever could -- since it reveals how steeped in prejudice the supporters of prohibition are.Even the usually pro-law enforcement VTH message board is critical of his letter: et al, re: the clause in Ammiano's bill -- keep in mind this is a draft bill that will have many amendments before it is through. Activists are well aware of the issue you raised, which has been discussed internally, and it will be addressed. From a technical standpoint, CA can NOT legally enact legal sales of cannabis without a change in federal law -- hence the clause. But on a practical level it could so so, similar to how medical marijuana sales are allowed locally but not federally -- hence the bill.
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Comment #20 posted by runruff on March 09, 2009 at 08:52:48 PT
Just Because!
"Just Because" should be reason enough in a FREE America but let's not forget the other 1001 reasons.
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Comment #19 posted by Vincent on March 09, 2009 at 08:14:37 PT:
Legalization in California
The journalist of this article says that he "personally opposed the legalization of Marijuana until he spoke with" some judge. Funny thing--I was never "personally opposed" to legal herb. I didn't have to talk to anybody, or have my eyes opened by this or that...I ALWAYS wanted Marijuana to be legalized because...well. just because, that's all.
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Comment #18 posted by GeoChemist on March 09, 2009 at 04:14:27 PT
Yes, nicotine is one of many chemicals present in tobacco. What that moron did was compare the whole cannabis plant to one of many chemicals present in tobacco. Lafferty's opinion article was amusing to read, it makes no sense, has no flow, and is more or less a prophibitionist make a last grasp. And what makes tobacco so damn destructive to human health is one radio-active isotope and its associated decay cycle.
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Comment #17 posted by afterburner on March 09, 2009 at 00:05:17 PT
"quagmire" runruff #3 
Well said.
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on March 08, 2009 at 22:56:47 PT
And, of course, welcome to C-News. 
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Comment #15 posted by Hope on March 08, 2009 at 22:54:16 PT
I wondered about that myself about his reference to nicotine.And the gateway to alcoholism? That seems very unlikely. 
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Comment #14 posted by Shielde on March 08, 2009 at 21:05:59 PT
from the article hope linked
I am not trying to undermine this wonderful writer by pointing out his mistakes, well what i consider mistakes. "There are more toxic chemicals and poisons in marijuana than are in nicotine. " I could be wrong but isn't nicotine a single chemical and thus almost any substance would have more toxic chemicals and poisons in it."A very large percentage of all pot heads end up using more serious chemicals and become alcoholics,"  OK, So now marijuana is now the gateway drug to becoming an alcoholic... Interesting."And believe it or not, our laws are designed to protect people like us from people like you. " Our laws are designed to protect us from some criminals, just as long as they don't have a badge, make millions of dollars a year, work for the government, or have been elected into office.OK I'm done with my rambling for now
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on March 08, 2009 at 20:06:22 PT
A Question
Besides Ammiano who helped write this Bill? It doesn't seem the way I would go unless I was trying to lock in California's ways to be the ways of other states in the future. I want my state to be totally different.
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Comment #12 posted by BGreen on March 08, 2009 at 19:42:32 PT
Excellent catch, Lucas!
 25406. Beginning 30 days after the operative date of the regulations issued pursuant to this chapter, or 30 days after the date when federal law permits the possession and sale of marijuana consistent with this chapter, whichever is latest, the department shall begin to enforce the provisions of this chapter.They pull this kind of crap all of the time and a lot of times it's one of the readers who catches what most or all of the mainstream media "experts" miss, refuse to see or purposefully withhold from us.Great investigative work, Lucas!The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #11 posted by Lucas on March 08, 2009 at 19:14:07 PT
SB 390 takes effect when?
"when federal law permits the possession and sale of marijuana"Here, read the text yourself look at page 6, section 25406 do not understand why none of the media articles Im reading have caught this detail.My conspiracy theory is that Ammiano, a known Martini drinker, is a Federal ally, attempting to LIMIT the options for legalization to only those that the Feds agree with..California is a state governed by movie stars and Martini drinkers, see where that got us 
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Comment #10 posted by mydnytmover on March 08, 2009 at 18:54:12 PT
Marijuana Inc
Marijuana Inc.: Inside America's Pot Industry is a great show,very interesting Made me wish I lived in Calif.
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Comment #9 posted by greenmed on March 08, 2009 at 18:42:37 PT
a little light viewing
Tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, CNBC is airing a documentary Marijuana Inc.: Inside America's Pot Industry. It might be worth checking out if it's fair, or even if it isn't.I had planned to watch the season opener of AMC's Breaking Bad, but I believe they air a replay later this evening.
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on March 08, 2009 at 12:27:48 PT
 The wisdom of Lyndon E. Lafferty, LEO-retired 
"It does not matter how many punks use marijuana, regardless of their stature in life. Charles Manson and his blood-thirsty group were constant users of marijuana. And believe it or not, our laws are designed to protect people like us from people like you. ""By punks like you!" Was he addressing also: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Sir John Lennon, George W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Harrison, Sir Richard Starkey, Barrack Obama, William F Buckley Jr., Carl Sagan, Gene Krupa, Robert Mitchum, Lewis Carrol, Hunter S. Thompson, Ken Kesey,.............Charles Manson's group said their drug of choice was LSD. Is he trying to make the case that smoking pot will make an otherwise normal person turn blood thirsty?I know in my heart that this guy, if he is a LEO, knows better than to imply, mislead or otherwise insinuate that using cannabis can turn us into bloodthirsty killers or that I stink or that I am lazy? Further 30% of more than 100 million people [30 million] are in rehab, a gutter or doorway?I love the old Anslinger tactic he used here: Additionally, nearly 90 percent of our teenage suicides involve marijuana or some other drug.With this comment one person may have smoked a joint and committed suicide but if you lump him in with all the really harmful substances you can honestly make this claim. It is obviously dishonest and disingenuous. I have sat I court rooms and watched cops get on the stand, lie and contradict each other and lie some more. I don't believe this LEO is one of the honest ones. He is a player in the since that it is better for us to win than it is for the scumbags to win. This at any cost!
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on March 08, 2009 at 11:46:51 PT
Ex-cop attacks Paul Armentano.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on March 08, 2009 at 11:32:21 PT
It makes me mad, too...
that that man thinks women and girls are so stupid, weak, and vulnerable.His sister must have made him play with Barbies against his will. He'll show her!
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on March 08, 2009 at 11:12:23 PT
Lol! Runruff.
Next they'll be wanting to ban toy cars and trucks because kids crash them into each other on purpose, drive them too fast, or drive them the wrong way on their little imaginary roads, and that means they're "practicing" causing crashes... and need to be banned.Stunts like that legislator is pulling, actually can incline people, I think, to want what he wants to ban, even if they didn't before he brought it up.It makes me want a Barbie just reading about it.Jonesing for a Barbie. Dang.
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on March 08, 2009 at 10:48:09 PT
My Barbie Dolls are mine!!!!!
I have a right to own, purchase, dress and undress my barbie dolls!My Ken and Barbie are out on a date for Sunday Brunch as we speak. If he thinks he can take my little friends away just like that he has another think coming!!!"From MY cold dead hands!"
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on March 08, 2009 at 10:43:18 PT
And we're still in this quagmire!!!!
Prohibition of a desired, popular, useful thing for political purposes by a government is dictatorial fascism: Nixon set up the HMO's and the CSA, mmmm? I reckon it looks like he was a lap dog for the health care/pharmaceutical industries! Thus began the Jim Jonesing of America. Eighty percent of the population of sheeple drank the anti-cannabis kool-aid! Millions lost their liberty and countless thousands died. A thought here: How many future scientist and other valuable professionals we as a society could have produced with the trillion dollars wasted on the WoD? How much is missing from our lives and the benefits due to our children because we as a nation thought it wiser to keep people from growing a plant than to feed, educate and house our fellow citizens? Could a trillion dollars have done very much toward maintaining our infrastructure?Henry Anslinger estimated that there could be as many as ten thousand people in America using marihuana in 1936.Today an estimated 100 million! Good job WoD! And all of this for only what, One trillion $$$ ????My Uncle Sam is not insane in the classic sense. Uncle Sam has people working for him in high places who are insane with power and greed though! To these folks making sense is not important. It is the ability to get their way in matters that are detriMENTAL to the people, and make us believe it is good for us, while benefiting themselves and, or their friends.
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on March 08, 2009 at 10:40:54 PT
Legally prohibiting the sale and possession of 
Barbie dolls? Barbie doll prohibitionists? Oh God. (That's a prayer and not a mere expletive.)If you don't want your children to play with Barbie dolls you can do that. Having the government do it for you and forcing the prohibition upon everyone else, is nothing short of insane.
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Comment #1 posted by GeoChemist on March 08, 2009 at 06:33:17 PT
Way off topic but
this is one of the problems with this country. A West Virginia law maker (I do not live in WV but work there) wants to ban, ready for this one? Barbie. I understand there is nothing else to worry about right now with the stellar economy and the meager jobless rate, so lets go after a toy. If anyone wants to voice their opinion, here is his e-mail address: jeffeldridge96 I sent him a not-so-kind message. I hope all is well FoM and Herbdoc and your loved-ones get well very soon.
West Virginia state lawmaker proposes ban on Barbie just before she turns 50
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