Give Up That Legalizing Marijuana Is Good Or Possible for California

February 11, 2011

Dear Fellow Californians:

I am writing you this letter to help you to realize that the legalization of marijuana in the state of California is neither feasible, nor smart.

In the wake of the great recession, even voters of conservative values began to eye the potential legalization of marijuana as a possibly economically sound option to solving the revenue problems with a higher than 12 percent unemployment rate, 50 billion dollar deficit, and endless furloughs for state workers. Many liberals got excited about legalizing marijuana for people of age, because, isn’t California one of the most liberal states after all? And people are doing it anyway, right?

After this initiative was put on the ballot in November of 2010, many voters’ hopes were dashed after a sweeping majority knocked it down. And others were relieved because they somehow believed that if marijuana was legalized, it would be the end of the world after all. Even President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder indicated on the eve of the election that if the law passed, it would be immediately considered illegal on a federal level.

But does California, with its high unemployment rate really need more people at home lighting up instead of looking for work? Do we really want our high school students dreaming of turning age 18 or 21, so they can smoke weed at home or in public? And do we need more sin taxes and surgeon’s general warnings because a lack of information may saddle long term smokers with diseases and health complications we can’t presently predict and will ultimately pay for in high health care costs and disability benefits?

Do we need poor and minority communities marketed to the same way that alcohol and cigarettes companies presently target them? Wouldn’t you say that enough is enough, and that our citizens, rich, poor, and in between need to be in as healthy and optimal a place possible in order to survive the rigor of these tough economic times?

Since many of us were young, we heard marijuana referred to as a gateway drug that leads to recreational use of harder drugs and risky behavior. If we suddenly decided that recreational marijuana use was legal, would that argument suddenly be unfounded? And what about inmates in California prisons who will be incarcerated for life under the Three Strikes law? If one of their offenses was marijuana related due to possession or distribution, does that mean that their legal records can be expunged retroactively because of the legitimization of marijuana as something that now benefits the larger society?

It’s already tough enough that medical marijuana is widely unregulated and quasi-legal for those who need it for health reasons. Black market distribution already puts many of our citizens at risk every day without their knowledge.
So let’s be smart about this California, by thinking this through and realizing that more options don’t necessarily mean better ones.

Monica Ayers
First year graduate student

Give Up That Legalizing Marijuana Is Good Or Possible for California was published on February 11, 2011 in Column, Letters to the Editor, Opinions

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  • Luke

    While you write as if you are smart, you failed to make any logical sense. Yes people are doing it, and many of your friends do it. Prop. 19 was only 3.5 percent away from being passed! You can say the same things about the countless pharma drugs, ” do you really want your neighbor getting high off pain killers and driving your kids to school”? So lets arrest every person that uses pain killers. Too many peoples lives are being ruined because of the prohibition. If you don’t see this then you need to start looking a little harder and clearer!

  • Herb de la Ganjarino

    Not all who like to smoke fit into your incredibly unintelligent stereotype. Your argument is antiquated and you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. Just because you spent all four years of undergrad with a pothead boyfriend who sat around all day and played ‘Call of Duty’ only to dump you upon graduation does not give you the right to make largely unfounded accusations about the effects of this cannabis. You made no mention of any of the numerous medical studies that have found cannabis to have benefits for any number of health conditions, and instead resorted to the old “gateway drug” cliche. Wake up, you daft moron. Reagan’s dead and the war on drugs is a farce. Try and remember that alcohol kills 400,000 people per year (in the U.S. alone) when you’re having your next glass of white zin on a ‘girl’s night.’ There’s no reason to be frightened of people pulling bong loads. It’s also possible to smoke and be active- I cannot remain idle while high. I do yoga, I go running, I ride my bike, I play tennis- all while high. A rip off a one hitter has never caused me to think, “You know what would be fun? Putting a cat in a microwave. Nah. Too messy. I’ll just get a big bag of dope and shoot it till I shit myself silly.” Drugs cannot be blamed for people moving on to other drugs- that is the individual’s issue, and any addict will tell you, drugs are a symptom, not the problem. Addicts and alcoholics are predisposed to excessive behavior well before they ever ingest their substance of choice. Now, is that the result of sharing a joint with a friend, or issues from childhood? Maybe we should spend more time figuring out how to help people with psychological issues instead of making them feel guilty for having feelings to begin with. At the very least, it’s better than having them turn to actual drugs. All my criticisms aside, I’m sure you’re not a bad person. You’re just confused, and it’s not your fault. You (and me, and all of us) have been lied to about the truth of cannabis. E-mail me and I’ll come smoke a bowl with you and we can talk about it. Sorry for calling you a moron, but do your research and get real.

  • Malcolm Kyle

    When we eventually manage to put the horrors of this moronothon behind us, we’ll need to engage in some very deep and honest soul-searching as to what we want to be as a nation. Many of our freedoms have been severely circumscribed or lost altogether, our economy has been trashed and our international reputation for being “free and fair” has been dragged through a putrid sewer by vicious narrow-minded drug warrior zealots who are ignorant of abstract concepts such as truth, justice and decency. We’ll need to make sure that such a catastrophe is never ever repeated. This may mean that public hearings or tribunals will be held where those who’ve been the instigators and cheerleaders of this abomination will have to answer for their serious crimes against our once prosperous and proud nation.

    Each day you remain silent, you help to destroy the Constitution, fill the prisons with our children, and empower terrorists and criminals worldwide while wasting hundreds of billions of your own tax dollars. Prohibition bears many strong and startling similarities to Torquemada­’s inquisition­, it’s supporters are servants of tyranny and hate; if you’re aware of but not enraged by it’s shear waste and cruel atrocities then both your heart and soul must surely be dead.

  • Ray

    This may be the most foolish thing I’ve ever read. First of all, I am a first year law school student, and smoke LOADS of marijuana. Anyone out there reading this right now who has been to law school, whether they completed it or not, knows that there is no way a person could succeed in law school if they were strapped to their couch all day. Firstly, the workload is insane, so if pot really made you a lazy bag of flesh, I can tell you right now you would never be able to read through any of Chief Justice Rehnquist’s court opinions because, well, they are pretty brutal to read. However, smoking pot actually helps me focus on what I’m reading and keeps me from being distracted by the surrounding environment. Secondly, not only is there an intense workload in law school, but the sheer act of going to class would be impossible if I were, “at home lighting up instead…”

    You can call them “sin” taxes all you want but the truth of the matter is, numbers don’t lie. I challenge anyone to show anything less than an astounding boost to both state and federal budgets as a result of legalizing not only medical marijuana, but recreational as well. The decision to legalize marijuana on a national scale is what will determine our position of intelligence on a global scale as a country. If we legalize, I can assure you that the economic and health benefits alone will be enough to say to the world, “Look at us, we have decided to be progressive and as a result we have solved many of our country’s biggest issues simply by legalizing the use of a harmless herb.”

    As far as the risks of using marijuana goes, don’t even bother attempting to list even one. Causes lung cancer? Wrong. Causes emphysema? Wrong. Psychosis? Even that was wrong. What all of you closed-minded people need to focus on are not the “results” of these marijuana studies are saying but rather who is funding and conducting these studies. The ones that show the worst results for marijuana are always conducted by or paid for by groups who have an interest in keeping marijuana illegal. Now, while I’m sure you’d like to turn around and say “Yeah but all the people doing studies that show positive results are pro-legalization groups” and for the most part you would be right, except for when the DEA judge back in 1972 read the Schaeffer report put out that ha been order by Nixon to study the affects of marijuana and the Judge declared essentially that based on the findings, he could see no negative effects that stemmed prom the use of marijuana and if anything saw evidence to the contrary. His finding was overruled by Nixon of course, since Nixon wanted to find a way to arrest the people who were protesting Nam. He couldn’t arrest them for peaceful protests so he nailed them on pot charges instead.

    The easy way to look at it is this: Almost every big name person you can think of who stood strong against pot legalization (Harry Anslinger, Nixon, GWB) all have a very different label applied to them when talking about anything other than marijuana: A-hole.

    We need a politician who can stand in front of country and say, “I apologize on behalf the the US government and for all those politicians before me for the way they have treated marijuana and those who use it.” Until we can get someone in there who can admit that the government has strung us along throughout the years in regards to marijuana, we are unlikely to see any change. No one wants to be the President that gets up and apologizes to the thousands of people (or has it gone to millions?) who are behind bars right now for marijuana related charges. Hell, I’ll do it.

  • Duncan

    53.5 to 46.5 is a “sweeping majority”? On which planet in which alternative universe? A “sweeping majority” with 12% of those voting ‘no’ telling exit pollsters that they supported re-legalization just not Prop 19? Lets see that changes the vote to 53-47 in favor. Let’s just cut the absurd hyperbole and hysterical rhetoric.

    Do we consider that the winning position on Prop 19 by a landslide was “really don’t care one way or the other”? 15 million Californians cast this vote by declining to show up.

    Regardless, how many other laws have almost 50% support for repeal? How about the income tax? No, Massachusetts had repeal of their State income tax on it’s 2008 ballot which failed with only 30% in favor. Interestingly the same ballot also sported an initiative to decriminalize petty possession of cannabis, which passed with 65% in favor.

    It’s very peculiar that you argue that it would be unfair to those railroaded into prison for draconian sentences. Better that we should continue to perpetrate this piece of excremental public policy on society than to be unfair to serial felons who knew the risks they were taking.

    Utter hogwash. It’s time for you to grow up Monica, and learn that this absurd law is devastating our society, sucking resources from the public kitty, and denigrating our freedom. We simply don’t have the resources to continue prosecuting this unjust, morally bankrupt, and epic failure of public policy which many refer to as the war on (some) drugs.


  • Duncan

    Driving while impaired would increase? What factual basis do you assert that flight of fancy? You say driving while drugged has increased because of medical cannabis, and there is carnage and mayhem on the highways? That’s the trouble with hysterical rhetoric, it’s so often wrong, wrong, wrong. The Know Nothing prohibitionists in California in 1996 made the same hysterical claim. Instead, California has led the entire country to a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of “drugged” driving, while more than tripling the number of patients claiming protection under the CUA/SB-420. Since 12/10/2010 we’ve got the proof that the predictions of carnage and mayhem on the road are the deluded fantasies of the Know Nothings.

    On 12/10/2010 SAMHSA published the results of a study of the incidence in “drugged” driving and was pleased to announce that the nationwide incidence of “drugged” driving had declined by a statistically significant percentage. They were also pleased to announce that there was not even a single State which had suffered a statistically significant increase in the incidence of “drugged” driving.

    SAMHSA credited the nationwide statistically significant reduction in “drugged” driving to the 7 States which also enjoyed a statistically significant decreases in its incidence during the study’s time frame.

    4 of the 7 States are States that have laws like the CUA which decriminalize medicinal cannabis. Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan, and (hold onto your hat!) California, the latter is of course the Know Nothing prohibitionists “poster child” for medical cannabis run amuck. But that’s why I call them Know Nothings, because they simply know nothing about that which they seem so certain is true.

    Attention Know Nothings: Read ’em and weep:

  • Duncan

    The “gateway theory” is dead, dead, dead. The drug czar and SAMHSA won’t even pull that long disproven canard out anymore. I thought enjoying cannabis was supposed to lead to addiction? Monica, the numbers simply don’t support that piece of “logic”. Did you know that…

    …there’s been more than a 47% drop in the number of people in “treatment” for opioid addiction since the CUA passed in 1996, from 69,092 in “treatment” to 36489. The reduction of 32,603 opioid addicts in need of services is 1523 people short of the entire number in “treatment” for cannabis “addiction” in California in 2009.

    The 34,126 in “treatment” for cannabis “addiction” represent less than 1/100th of 1 percent of California’s reported population of 38 million. Oh my, 1/100th of 1%, and that’s not even counting California’s millions of unregistered guests. What a flippin’ calamity.

    Though not as impressive, there’s been a drop of 18.58% in “treatment” for cocaine addiction since 1996.

    There’s been a better than 33.18% reduction of people in “treatment” for “drinking alcohol + another drug” but an increase of 21.37% of people in “treatment for “just alcohol”. Looks like cannabis is helping here, “just alcohol” people are notoriously and ironically “anti-drugs”.

    Let’s not forget that California’s population has increased over 6 million since 1996 making these percentage drops even more impressive. It certainly mitigates the 4.34% increase in the total number of people in “treatment” across the board.

    All numbers available in the links posted above, feel free to get out your calculator and check my math if you need to waste some of your spare time. Would you really rather have heroin addicts than potheads?

  • Duncan

    Do we need mass marketing to the poor or to anyone? That’s another straw man fallacy. No, we don’t. The market is tabula rasa, a blank slate. We can set up any system of reasonable regulation that’s required to make this happen in the better interests of society. There are no First Amendment issues with commercial speech. Another totally baseless argument of nothing but more hysterical rhetoric.

    It’s simply amazing that anyone can mention Prop 19 and then trot out the canard that potheads are lazy people. That vote came to you courtesy of a very hard working pothead who put up $1.5 million of his own money to get it on the ballot. It was potheads who brought California Prop 215, and that have gotten medicine to the sick in 13 States (2 pending+DC) in the face of an intransigent Federal government with trillions in resources. That’s more accurately described as making bricks without straw.

    For some reason Monica I doubt you’d be anything but appalled if the same baseless stereotypes based on hatred came out of your mouth about people of color, yet almost your entire argument is a duplicate of arguments made by 19th century racists of why the Negroes should remain enslaved. Lazy, shiftless, dishonest, helpless, in need of the white man to keep him alive. It’s no less offensive when you apply it as a blanket pejorative to the cannabinoidians that you so fear and hate.

    Regardless, we’re not going anywhere.

    We’re not going to quit enjoying cannabis.

    We have going on 98 years of evidence that say that you can’t stop us.


    PS you forgot the straw man of “increased crime”. But perhaps you’ve seen that the California Crime Index has fallen off a cliff since 1996 and knew that nonsense claim would be easily discredited.

  • Wayne

    “But does California,… need more people at home lighting up instead of looking for work?”

    Amotivational syndrome is a myth contradicted by the abundance of scientific research to the contrary. (See reference to literature, below)

    “Do we really want our high school students dreaming of turning age 18 or 21, so they can smoke weed at home or in public?”

    The fallacious assumption here is that prohibition succeeds in reducing supply, demand and/or use (in teens or adults). There is no scientific evidence to support this assertion, and plenty of data which consistently shows that prohibition has zero effect (either positive or negative) on consumption rates or availability.

    “Do we need poor and minority communities marketed to the same way that alcohol and cigarettes companies presently target them”

    Prop. 19 was supported by the CA chapter of the NAACP. Why? Because prohibition is Jim Crow. 80% of all US prisoners are people of color and half of them are in jail on drug charges. Young Black males are arrested for marijuana at rates up to 10 times those of young white males. Prohibition is the violent rape and murder of inner city families by the DEA and by drug cartels, non of whom would exist without prohibition. Your supposed concern for minorities is disingenuous.

    “Since many of us were young, we heard marijuana referred to as a gateway drug that leads to recreational use of harder drugs and risky behavior”

    The gateway theory is a myth propogated by ignorance of the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

    Ms. Ayers, I stongly suggest you read Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts by Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D, and John Morgan, M.D. which is a well rounded look at the enormous body of scientific data and research regarding cannabis and which dispels all of the myths which you insist on perpetuating.

    Prohibition relies on ignorance of the facts and making assertions based on untruths.

    Think critically. Get informed. Legalize the herb.

  • Monica Ayers

    Dear Readers of this Article:

    Thank you for your comments and interest. This Op/Ed was written in the context of a policy course I am taking at Mills. This is a tough topic to discuss, and it was intended to generate debate and even controversy.

    My personal beliefs are not necessarily reflected in this article, but my intention was to get people to think more deeply about these issues. In the works of President Obama, ‘We can disagree without being disagreeable.’ Thank you for your engagement.
    -Monica Ayers

  • Duncan

    Fair enough Monica. How about defending involuntary servitude for your next attempt to stimulate discussion? Maybe something like:

    “Without slavery the former slaves would run amuck, stealing, raping, killing, and generally causing mayhem. Preservation of social order therefore rules out the abolition of slavery. Southerners lived in dread of slave uprisings. Northerners in the mid-nineteenth century found the situation in their own region already sufficiently intolerable, owing to the massive influx of drunken, brawling Irishmen into the country in the 1840s and 1850s. Throwing free blacks, whom the Irish generally disliked, into the mix would well-nigh guarantee social chaos.”

    Let’s see how agreeable the disagreement with that position turns out. Heck, I may catch it good just for suggesting the notion.

  • Brax

    You are such a closed minded POS. of course it will mean we wipe people clean of marijuana only related charges. Its a great idea, in fact many people who are unemployed dont have the opportunity for a job because of a marijuana related offense. In america we have been raised wrong, to believe the political stand points of marijuana’s history. but how ever if an individual does research about the latest scientific studies, you will find that maybe, just maybe the government has been shoving lies and propaganda down peoples throats. You know, they have also said potent energy drinks will lead some kids to move on to harder stimulants. I will openly admit i smoke pot almost on a daily basis, illegally, in Florida. I smoke, maintain As and Bs in all my classes(AP courses) and have more than a functional life style, I hit the gym daily, i have a more than functional relationship with all my friends and family. my life rocks. Guess what would F#@! me out of getting a job though when it comes time to get one. A marijuana arrest. Your police record would show before you even got there to take a piss test. I will stop when it comes time to get a job because i have to. It is super easy to drop the habit. I may not sleep well for 2 or 3 nights but, thats not terrible. I can bypass that with a Melatonin. Marijuana needs to be legalized we have spent so much fighting it. Almost 70% of the war on drugs goes into marijuana alone. Mexican drug cartels would be devastated if we legalized marijuana. 60% of their profit comes from us, buying their marijuana. So not only do we save money by taking marijuana out of the illegal picture. We take a nice chunk out of the Mexican drug cartels pay role. In the recent poles ‎57% of America agrees with legalizing cannabis. 23% disagree and the remaining 19% have no opinion. among support for policy change 18-29 year olds rated the highest. but the most insane part, roughly 60% percent of adults 30-64 year old agree its time for a change. In another pole taken back in the 70s 50% of highschool students acknowledged to using marijuana. Here we are 41 years later, after everything done to “Stop drug use” we have 48% percent of highschool students acknowledging to use it. Nothing works. I can go on forever telling you all I know but I’m bout go spark a bowl and go to sleep. Thats enough for now. So what does this all mean? People want to smoke pot. end of story…

  • WesDay

    I can’t blame you for writing this, because there are only two reasons to write such an opinion piece. You are either still very ignorant to the facts of the matter and refuse to gather as much data as possible to draw a logical conclusion (which lets face it, if you had, you would have become ambivalent at worst), or you stand to profit from the prohibition in some way. I’ve looked at the data, and those are the only two possible reasons to stand against this much needed change.

    Let me break it down for you: Legalization is NOT the same as Advocating people use it. Legalization of Marijuana protects our family, friends, and neighbors from the undue consequences of an at worst poor life decision. This is not to mention we strip revenue and power from the very illegal organizations that we allocate ridiculous amounts of our valuable resources to combat.

    It may be a bit more counter-intuitive than yellow journalism has been suggesting to you…

  • john stalnaker

    I have a couple reasons why it would be smart to legalize weed
    1. if the government legalized weed they could tax the fuck out of it and use that to help america to get out of its recession
    2. we as a nation spend millions of dollars a year putting people in jail and use our taxes to pay for there food and court just for the fact that they had possession, this would also help america out by saving america money and spending it on more useful things that would actual help us.
    3. if we legalized weed the crime rate would go down substantially, i mean think about how many people are getting killed in gangs just because of weed.
    4. just like prohibition in the 1920s with alcohol whether its legal or not people will always do it (also i researched that when they legalized alcohol again the crime rate went way down and there where much less gangs.)
    5. Now will somebody please explain why if alcohol is legal why wouldnt weed be legal. think about it weed is much less harmless and you have more control when your high than when your drunk.and theres also less risk.
    there ya go bitches 😉