Californians will head to the polls in November to place their vote on Proposition 19. If passed, Proposition 19 would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. It will be interesting to see this play out, but as of now, polls show that support for Proposition 19 outweighs those against it 47% to 43%. Already, you can see big government and unions (prison guard unions and law enforcement) making their moves to oppose, as they fear legalization would cut into income. Individuals that oppose are claiming that legalization of marijuana will ruin the youth of America and fear for their children’s well- being. One sheriff in California opposes the bill and states his reason for doing so is due to a triple murder that occurred due to a drug deal gone bad. Those supporting it are doing so for reasons such as: income for the state (especially given the state of California’s financial issues), brings relief to those with chronic pain, and simply because they feel that if they want to smoke marijuana they should be able to. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this topic that I believe to be fear driven and based on false conventional wisdom. I will discuss briefly on a couple of different levels my opinion on the matter.
(Federal to State level) The issue to me is much bigger than marijuana. It is an issue of states rights which in turn trickles down as individual freedoms. Right now, there is the threat that the Federal Government would step in and not honor Proposition 19 if passed. The fact that the Federal Government can do that should be a red flag to all Americans…is the government for the people by the people, or is it operating of it’s on accord. Our country is set up as a union of individual states. The reason for this: because each individual state can cater to the differences of the people living in them. If we are to have but one government for all the States, and no State can govern as it sees fit, then what is the point of States at all? United States of America. If a state passes a bill, the Federal Government should honor that. It is obviously of the people’s will if the bill passed in the first place, so how is it right for the Federal government (ran by the people) to come in and tell ‘the people’ that the bill voted on and passed in our democratic system is void? Does this government ‘of the people’ know how to better run the lives of the people than the people themselves? I applaud the efforts of California stepping up and utilizing its Constitutional right to govern. Its right to set its own laws. Its right to provide for the people in accordance with the way they vote. Big government should back off!!
(On the State level) Ok, now that I’ve got the Federal government off of California’s back let’s get to work. I believe the state, from an economic standpoint, is for legalization of marijuana. They could care less about pain relief for patients, but they do care about that bottom line that has been in the red for so long. This bill, if passed, could be the life boat that California is looking for. They would be able to reap the benefits of an untapped market by taxing the sale of the now legal drug. However, there stands opposition to this because of money to be lost by some. Law enforcement and prison guard unions stand strongly opposed because of the possible loss of income on their part. If it is legal, no more fines, which in turn leads to no more jail time, which in turn leads to lower demand for law enforcement and guards. Special interest groups/Unions are awesome!! Damn what’s good for the majority, how does it affect our Union? So even with the Fed taken care of, there is still a battle on the State level. If the State is doing this solely for financial gain (which is probably the case), then I would have to say I don’t agree with the motive, but the end result is definitely a positive. I would hope that the main reason for California flexing its muscles on this issue is simply because it’s what the people want.
(People level) There is an even greater battle going on at the individual level. I love this part because this is what democracy is all about! Here we have the actual Yay’s and Nay’s. Unfortunately, what happens at this level is sometimes driven by fear and misinformation. Forever we’ve heard drugs are bad. Just say ‘NO’. We’ve been conditioned to think a certain way about a certain thing or product. We never ask why? My opinion about what is going on at this level of the controversy is that people are misinformed and don’t understand the bigger picture of individual rights and freedoms. This goes for both sides. The ones against the bill are that way out of fear of change and because they feel it goes against the conventional wisdom that they accept as fact. Those for the bill more than likely have something to gain from it (like smoking marijuana). Neither side really steps back, assesses the situation, and thinks about it from the point of individual rights. Constitutional rights. (and no I’m not saying the Constitution grants the right to smoke marijuana 🙂 ) It seems that people act without first becoming educated, or even pondering the issue for that matter. People need to become educated and stop letting big government think for them.
Conclusion: I think that vote should be honored by the Federal Govt and that Prop. 19 should be passed. I think the Nay’s are acting out of fear and they need to really think about and reflect upon their values (I’ll explain). I believe that passing this bill would be a huge step in the right direction for States, as well as individuals, telling big government that ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ are in control, and we know how to take care of ourselves better than you do. (I agree that there are some idiots out there that don’t, but luckily they are the minority) And lets not lose sight that marijuana will really help those with chronic pain while possibly saving California’s economy.
I said I would explain why the Nay’s should reflect…two simple examples. Alcohol is legal, cigarettes are legal. Are the Nay’s jumping up and down that alcohol and cigarettes should be illegal. NO. So, that must mean that they don’t care if their kids drink or smoke. It must mean that they don’t fear their kids could be killed by a drunk driver or get cancer. I’ll venture to say that’s not the case either. They do care if their kids drink and smoke and they do fear that they could be killed by a drunk driver or get cancer. So what’s the difference here? Fear of change. Fear of something unknown due to not being educated on the subject. I’ll bet that they teach their kids about not drinking and not smoking. They could do the same thing with marijuana if that is how they feel, but to say it should be illegal, come on. By that standard cigarettes and alcohol should be illegal too. Parents could give their kids the talk about marijuana just like they do the cigarettes and alcohol, if that’s their stance.
As for the sheriff who opposes it because he believes that a bad drug deal lead to a triple murder….wake up man! Alcohol is the cause of many deaths….still legal. Cigarettes kill thousands every year…..still legal. To shift gears, maybe the triple murder would never have happened if marijuana was legal. I haven’t heard of too many triple murders over bad cigarette deals. People need to wake up!!
People that are going to drink alcohol, will do so whether its legal or not. (look at prohibition) People who are going to smoke cigarettes, will do so whether its legal or not. People who are going to smoke marijuana will do so whether its legal or not. People who are going to speed….steal…you get my point. This is why I don’t fear that legalizing marijuana will create a nation of ‘pot heads’. I also believe that alcohol and cigarettes are way more dangerous than marijuana. How many times have you ever heard a doctor say, “Here, smoke some cigarettes and drink a six-pack so that you feel better.” ?
And finally: I don’t live in California, I’ve never smoked marijuana (and never plan on it). I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke cigarettes (why? they’re legal, so it must mean I’m an alcoholic with emphysema) . Just because something is legal doesn’t mean that everyone will do it. It is still my right to decide whether or not I am going to do certain things (legal or not). My point is just because I don’t smoke marijuana, it doesn’t mean I should want it to be illegal for others if they so choose to do it. I educate myself on issues and decide accordingly.
It ultimately comes down to being educated and realizing it’s all about individual rights.