Editorial

Let California be lab for drug policy

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Few issues have drawn more local interest than the current Natural Resources District election, but a few off-year elections have the potential for long-term affects everywhere around the country.

Besides the battle for Congress, a local contest that is drawing national attention is California's Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana for all uses, not just the medical purposes for which it has been legal since 1996.

The law allows anyone over 21 years old to smoke a joint in your home or other private place where no kids are around, keep a stash of up to an ounce, and grow up to 25 square feet.

If you believe the proponents, the law will save the state millions of dollars in enforcement and allow the police to focus on serious crimes, and bring in billions of dollars for the state as the drug is taxed like alcohol.

Opponents predict stoned professionals on the job, more dangerous drivers and drugged teenagers.

We may never find out who is right, since some polls predict it will be defeated, and federal officials vow to continue enforcing federal laws against marijuana.

It does seem that an inordinate amount of the law enforcement and prosecution budget is spent trying to eliminate a drug that is arguably no more dangerous than alcohol.

But we can't argue in favor of legislation that encourages more and more of us to turn into nonproductive slackers.

For now, let's let California grapple with the problem and live with the consequences as a laboratory for the rest of the country.

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  • *

    Perhaps editor, you should look into the facts a bit more.

    Marijuana is actually safer than Alcohol, by a large margin. Any idea how many people die from Alcohol related deaths every year? Around 80,000 a year. Do you know how many people have died from marijuana in it's 2000 year history? 0. I'll repeat that for you, 0.

    Marijuana wasn't made illegal because of any kind of danger, marijuana is illegal because of its possible use in the textile industry, and racism. I assume your aware that Henry Ford's first car was made of hemp? How about the fact that it also ran on ethanol made from hemp? The history channel did an excellent special about it a couple years ago, check it out.

    I really like your use of stereo types in the last part there. That's really nice. Just like anyone who drink alcohol is going to go home watch nascar and beats their wife right? That's what happens isn't it?

    As a (mostly) conservative state, I would imagine most people would be up in arms about this. If California does legalize marijuana, and the federal government continues prosecuting, that is in direct conflict to the will of the people. This would actually be something for people to get angry about, unlike the ridiculous socialistic nonsense I keep hearing about.

    The problem here is that it is illegal. The same problem exists with all "victimless" crime. There is no actual crime committed. We are simply filling the privately owned prisons with people who are guilty of no crime other than enjoying imbibing a different substance than you do. While simultaneously creating an army of armed distributors. You remember Alcohol prohibition right? How can people not see the parallels between that and what is happening now?

    "Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

    -Abraham Lincoln

    -- Posted by Damu on Thu, Oct 28, 2010, at 10:19 AM
  • I would suggest that the better model to observe as a laboratory would be Portugal where Under Portuguese law, there are no criminal penalties for the personal use of any drug and Drug abusers are dealt with by administrative and therapeutic means.If the Obama administration pursues the prosecution of personal users of marijuana then perhaps This administration is, as was rightfully said of President Bill Clinton he was the best President the Republicans could ask for.As for the effects of decriminalization of marijuana one could look to the Netherlands.So far it would appear that Portugal's experiment has resulted in lower levels of drug use than the majority of other EU nations.

    Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

    "Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1893946,00.html#ixzz13kXgJMn1

    -- Posted by davis_x_machina on Fri, Oct 29, 2010, at 7:22 AM
  • Ok. Think about it.

    1) Less people in prison, less cost to run.

    2) Less money spent on the failing enforcement of "drug control".

    3) Less money spent on the treatment of individuals that do not want it.

    4)Less money spent on drug trafficking control.

    5)Less money spent on gang violence control.

    6)Less money spent on health care of those being housed against their will.

    7)Less money spent on health care of those treated becuase of their use of bad and or dirty narcotics.

    AND

    1)Clean, safe, controlled, taxed, abundant supply for those that want to use it means;

    2)Less money and value to those who illegally bring it to the US. and dangerously supply it...and lace it...etc.

    AND

    1) Tax revenue for State.

    2) Tax revenue for City.

    3) Tax revenue for Fed Government.

    Think about it.

    People have and will always do what they want when they want...law or no law.

    To refuse someone the right to do something they enjoy doing because someone else does not agree with it is ridiculous. Don't read into that statement to far and come up with crazy comparisons either. I am not saying allow a serial killer to kill, or allow a rapist to rape, or a drunk or stoned driver to continue driving...

    I'm saying this; If someone want's to do something they should be able to do it. If what they are doing affects someone else in a negative manner then do something about it.

    I have always said an American citizen should have the right to smoke crack to death. I personally would rather pay to house their children and give them a proper home and education then to pay for the addict's housing and treatment. You can not force help on someone. When someone want's help they will come asking for it. The recidivism rate of a drug offender is in the upper 90th percentile, and has never changed.

    -- Posted by cplcac on Sun, Oct 31, 2010, at 2:55 AM
  • *

    Where do you get your numbers on Recidivism cplcac? I hadn't heard anywhere that they were that high.

    -- Posted by Sir Didymus on Mon, Nov 1, 2010, at 10:03 PM
  • Sir Didymus,

    It is a hypothesis of mine...here's why.

    Both The State and Federal Government's release results that are extremely deflated because of one reason...wording of the definition of recidivism. The Offender must be arrested and charged for the same crime as they have served time or have been charged for before...this being said.

    An example explaining my hypothesis:

    Person A is arrested for possession of crack in 1990, charged, serves time and is released.

    Person A is arrested for DUI of Narcotics, Flight to avoid arrest, reckless driving, and possession of a controlled substance in 1992. DUI of Narcotics and reckless driving is upheld, and other charges are thrown out. No possession is charged...nor recidivism recorded.

    Person A is arrested for burglary in 1995. He or she is noticeably under the influence of narcotics at the time of arrest. No recidivism. My guess in this situation is Person A may have been burglarizing in an attempt to receive property and or monies to purchase more of his or her drug of choice.

    Person A is arrested for armed robbery in 2002. Person A is found with drug paraphernalia on his or her person at time of arrest. Person A is charged with robbery, and plea bargains to drop drug paraphernalia charges.

    These types of things happen all the time. Could be an attempt to save money during prosecution, and maybe even in attempt to pad statistics. Who knows? I have witnessed firsthand individuals in situations fabricated above.

    I cannot tell you my guess is 100% accurate. However, if you were to interview inmates and or offenders first hand you will find that 90% of them will tell you that the crime's they were committing was because of, and or, influenced by their inability to afford or obtain their drug of choice.

    I worked with drug offenders for 5 years. I watched many of them come and go more than once. I personally know individuals that have drug addictions, and have seen with my own eyes second, third, and even fourth offenses committed by these individuals because of aforementioned reasons, and they were not noted as recidivism.

    Is my hypothesis 100% correct, more than likely not. Is it far off?

    -- Posted by cplcac on Wed, Nov 3, 2010, at 2:23 AM
  • *

    Yes. It is far off. Basically you are saying that you made all of your "facts" up. I am assuming that your "factual" definition of the meaning of recidivism comes from the same place.

    -- Posted by Sir Didymus on Wed, Nov 3, 2010, at 12:17 PM
  • http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/mar/07/recidivism-rate-worse-study-fin...

    Heres one to read. Mostly because all government funded studies are only for a 1 - 2 year period this is one that I found that covers and documents more time.

    -- Posted by cplcac on Wed, Nov 3, 2010, at 8:49 PM
  • http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/201229.pdf

    Heres another one. It's kind of padded, and it's only based on a 2 year study. Interesting nonetheless.

    -- Posted by cplcac on Wed, Nov 3, 2010, at 8:55 PM
  • http://www.justicepolicy.org/content-hmID=1811&smID=1588&ssmID=52.html

    This one kinda shows you some of the fact behind the "inflated" statistics. As people are not always charged with a drug offense when rearrested, a good number admit their crime being linked to drug use.

    -- Posted by cplcac on Wed, Nov 3, 2010, at 8:59 PM
  • http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/pdf/ResearchReports/Drug%20Abuse%20Treatment...

    This is a 4 year case study. It gives you an idea of how much the rate jumps from a 1 to 4 year period. Imagine a 10 to 15 year period.

    -- Posted by cplcac on Wed, Nov 3, 2010, at 9:02 PM
  • *

    Still not seeing numbers in the 90s. None of them note if it was a straight drug charge. that is your argument right? that if whatever drug was legalized there would be less crime? most of the studies you linked to were either comparing treatment or not for drug abusing offenders. If someone steals your car to sell for money to buy drugs, is it legally a drug crime? If someone is charged with some other crime and plea bargains down a lesser drug charge, is it a drug crime? I am not understanding your reasoning. Are you talking about only re offending on drug charges only? Could you show me some numbers on those? To be fair, alot of your arguments make sense in the pennywise-poundfoolish sense.

    -- Posted by Sir Didymus on Wed, Nov 3, 2010, at 10:37 PM
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