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Wednesday, July 7, 2010


In November the same voters that have consistently voted to bankrupt our state will have on their ballots Proposition 19. Prop 19 will legalize marijuana in California. Not just pot for medicinal purposes, but for any and all purposes.

There are many ramifications of such a vote, unfortunately I do not have the faith in the average California voter to understand the ramifications, nor to think through the consequences passage of Prop 19 brings. There will be plenty of money to fund the Yes On 19 campaign, billionaire George Sorros is rumored to be ready to spend considerably to support the Proposition. Websites are popping up to generate funds for Yes On 19, and one wonders how much Mexican drug cartels are pouring into the effort, after all who will benefit more than them if Prop 19 passes?

And therein lies the biggest problem I have with legalizing pot in California, even medical marijuana use. Unless the cultivation and transportation of marijuana is legalized in the state and all pot sold in the state must come from a registered state pot farm then we are funding the drug cartels in Mexico with our marijuana consumption, legal or illegal. Take a look at Mexico and what drug money has done to the country. Already Third World before the rise of the drug cartels in the last decade, the country now is lawless and run by drug dealers, especially in the regions along the United States border. Now imagine legal consumption of Mexican grown marijuana, an increase in demand in California, federal laws against the importation of marijuana, and an Administration that is determined not to monitor our borders.

Arizona passed its immigration legislation in response to a federal government that has refused to protect our borders, refused to enforce federal immigration laws and refused to acknowledge the deep rooted crime and costs associated with the open border with Mexico. Showing its position on illegal immigration and enforcement of current immigration laws the Department of Justice has sued Arizona to stop the enactment of SB 1970. What happens in the Arizona deserts if Prop 19 passes? Or do Californians, especially those supporting Prop 19, care?

One of the arguments in favor of passing Prop 19 is the tax revenue it will raise. "Tax marijuana and it will generate billions of dollars in tax revenue for the state and help solve our budget crisis." No, stopping spending on myriads of failed social programs, re-negotiating contracts with state workers' unions particularly for pensions and benefits, and not borrowing more money for bonds to pay for ridiculous propositions will solve our budget problems. Giving more tax revenue to our legislators in Sacramento is akin to giving more booze to an alcoholic, it won't end well.

Supposing the proposition passes, where is the tax collected? At point of sale? At transfer from the grower to the distributor? What if the retailer is buying from a dealer getting the pot from Mexico? How is that transaction taxed? Who monitors the collection of the pot tax? Who monitors the cultivation of the pot and ensures it goes from grower to retailer? Who monitors the dealers, I mean retailers, dispensing of the drug? Who monitors the dealers to ensure they are only purchasing from legal and registered growers--if that is required? Will this cost money? What about the cost to local and county governments to monitor the law and the sale and use to ensure it is all law abiding?

I am going out on a limb and making the presumption that those in favor of legalizing pot in California are more liberal than conservative. A side benefit for those who support Prop 19 will probably be the up-ticket benefit on election day. Just as Obama being on the ticket in November 2008 was responsible for the failure of Prop 8 to pass, Prop 19 being on the ticket will most likely benefit Barbara Boxer in her re-election bid against Carly Fiorina and Jerry Brown in his gubernatorial bid against Meg Whitman. The increase in pro-pot voters will likely lead to an increase in votes for the Democratic office seekers, a two for one deal for the liberal portion of the state. Incumbent on defeating Prop 19 will be a get out the vote campaign targeting socially conservative Democrats who voted for Obama but against Prop 8. Without Obama on the ticket however it will be difficult to get these voters to the polls again, and if they do show up chances are if they vote "No" on Prop 19 they may check all the (D) boxes as well.

Prop 19 is a bad idea for our state. It is another in a series of visceral propositions that Californians tend to vote for because it makes sense to them or makes them feel good about being engaged in democracy. But like bonds for high speed trains, or bonds for stem cell research, or bonds for reconstruction of the watersheds, once passed the reality and consequences of the propositions come to bear and damages our states finances and spreads to negatively impact the state and local governments.

For those who argue, "well alcohol is legal." Yes it is and the manufacture, distribution, transportation and sale are established and tightly regulated. Drug cartels in Mexico are not supplying us our Crown Royal and Miller Lite. Drug cartels are providing our nation with pot, meth, cocaine and drugs I probably do not even know about. How good of an idea is it to provide them with a legal and supposedly legitimate market for pot that enhances their revenue, and allows them to smuggle other illegal drugs into the country with their pot shipments?

No on Proposition 19. Click on "Comments" below and let us know how you feel.


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