Part 2: Arguments Against Marijuana Legalization In California

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The Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis act has gotten enough voter signatures to be on California’s November ballot. The augments for passing the initiative are summarized in California Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act: Part 1. Polls show that of voters that have decided, 59% support the act. However, opponents say the bill will not be worth the tax pay day it will provide. These opponents fall into two major camps – those who believe the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis will cause medical or crime problems, and those who believe it will hurt the quality of marijuana.

Arguments against legal marijuana – Medical

The medical uses of marijuana are fairly well-accepted by some doctors. However, the legalization of recreational use could lead to many negative health effects.

Marijuana is mainly ingested through smoking, and the smoking of any substance, especially long-term, can seriously damage a person’s lungs. Reaction time and short term memory have also been shown to be damaged by long-term pot smoking. Medical opponents of legal recreational marijuana argue that legalization would increase use, and therefore harm public health.

Criminal arguments against legal marijuana

The California Peace Officers Association, among many others, has spoken out against the initiative intended to legalize marijuana. The official association lobbyist, John Lovell, was quoted by CNN as asking “We have enough problems with alcohol and abuse of pharmaceutical products. Do we really need to add yet another mind-altering substance to the array?”

Opponents also highlight that no matter what California voters decide, federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug. While enforcement on medical marijuana has been lax, marijuana use, sale, and possession remain serious federal crimes. If marijuana were to be legalized in California, it could draw organized crime and drug cartels to the state.

Arguments against legal marijuana – Quality

An unusual coalition between marijuana producers and those who want to keep marijuana illegal is emerging. In Humboldt County, many growers and distributors of gray or black market marijuana fear that legalized pot could be economically and socially damaging. There is a fear that if the act passes, the cost of marijuana will drop, limiting the profit growers can make from their cash crop. If the price of pot were to drop, the growers fear they would have to attend credit counseling because their livelihood would be damaged. As in many other markets, growers fear that legal marijuana would mean corporations would begin producing competition to their crops. If they had to compete against agribusiness, many growers fear they would be put out of business.

California’s Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis act has strong arguments both for and against passage. The results in California’s election will be carefully watched, and the result on the legal marijuana movement could be profound.


The Associated Press

Business Week

Seattle Times

Time Magazine


California NORML

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