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