Saturday, July 25, 2009

We the People

There's an old saying that goes like this: If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

I don't know if that went through the minds of the voters in Oakland, Calif., this week. But the folks in Oakland voted, by a landslide, to tax proceeds on medical marijuana.

That's an important step toward repealing an unjustifiable prohibition that has been in effect in this country for more than seven decades. (And Peter Guthier makes a persuasive case that "the very first federal vote to prohibit marijuana was based entirely on a documented lie on the floor of the Senate." Those who insist on believing that morality somehow had anything to do with this law actually know nothing about it. It had nothing to do with morality and everything to do with racism and protectionism.)

It is no secret that the state of California — like many other states — is facing severe budget problems. The voters in Oakland took a proactive step to help the state.

It may be a drop in the bucket, but if the other cities in the state — heck, if the entire state — would follow Oakland's example, it could take a giant step toward solvency.

It has been estimated that taxing all marijuana proceeds, not just those that are medically sanctioned, could mean as much as $1 billion per year in additional revenue for the state. It wouldn't be as significant in every state, but every state could profit from legalizing marijuana.

It would mean the creation of new tax–paying businesses with tax–paying employees. It would also mean that a huge portion of the black market would disappear, which would require reassigning police officers who have been wasting their talents on an unenforceable law. And those individuals who have any substance abuse issues could come out of the shadows and seek help without being branded criminals.

"It's just smart economics," San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi told the Oakland Tribune.

Attitudes on marijuana seem to be changing in America. I know it isn't scientific, but a little earlier, I was visiting the website, and they were asking, as their "Quick Vote" poll question, whether marijuana should be legalized. Nearly two–thirds of the respondents said it should. was conducting the poll in connection with a report from Chuck Conder that a drive to legalize marijuana in California is gaining momentum, in large part because of the state of the economy.

The truth is, it would be a smart policy for the nation. It makes sense.

Maybe that's why I have this nagging feeling that's why it won't happen.

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