On average, a drunk driver kills someone every 45 minutes. Recreational marijuana use in fatal crashes will increase if Prop. 19 passes. It will be legal for a driver to get high right before taking the wheel. It will also be legal for passengers to smoke pot as they drive on the freeway or in your neighborhood.
Williamson’s retort is characteristically blunt and to the point:
Bunk. If California lacks an intoxicated-driving law, then write one. Of course, California already has such a law, and the state attorney general affirms that Prop 19 would not change the prohibitions on driving while impaired. This is fear-mongering of the worst sort: “Oh, help! The stoned hippies are running over our children.”
California has real problems, and these busybodies are worried about, in their own words,passengers in cars who may be high. Not drivers — passengers. The only dangers presented by a stoned passenger are associated with an unscheduled stop at Jack in the Box.
Williamson is, of course, quite correct. For some it might be a bit surprising that a prominent writer at the nation’s preeminent conservative magazine would opine in favor of Prop 19, but National Review has actually been pro-legalization for some time now (even William F. Buckley, the magazines long-time editor and founder, was against prohibition). And indeed, it’s interesting to see who has come out of the woodwork in support of Prop 19 and, even more interestingly, against the bill – which would legalize and regulate the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana in California.
I heard this story on NPR yesterday which takes note of some of the stranger opponents of the proposition:
De la Luz is a marijuana connoisseur for West Coast Cannabis and Skunk magazines, and TV’s Cannabis Planet. She has a monthly column called "Getting High with Dragonfly," in which she reviews the latest flavors of ganja.
"My favorite strain these days has to be Dr. Walker’s Daze," she says. "It’s a pretty epic mood elevator. You’re instantly happy, and you stay happy."
De la Luz says she was excited at first to hear California was trying to legalize pot. "I thought it was a dream come true," she says. "Then I read it and realized it was a nightmare."
She’s now actively campaigning with her group "Stoners Against Prop 19." She says the initiative would create too many restrictions: Californians would be able to legally possess, process, share or transport only one ounce of pot. And they would be able to grow it only in a 25-square-foot area. […]
"We’re kind of like anti-Wal-Mart and anti-McDonald’s," she says. "So for them to try to sneak in and turn cannabis into a corporation, that’s disgusting."
Or take pot-grower, Chris Wilson who worries that he’ll be taxed out of business:
Wilson says Proposition 19 would put him out of business. He wouldn’t be able to grow enough to supply himself , much less the collective. And he’d have to pay taxes and fees to operate.
"They’re going to tax the hell out of me," Wilson says. "And I barely make it as it is. I’m just getting by. They’re taxing everybody they can, just because California is in debt. They see the money can be made, like unbelievable taxation, enough to push me out of business."
And another grower who worries:
"Everyone’s really scared of the prices going down," he says. "We all have invested money here, we all live here. I have a daughter here, my wife’s a teacher. Everyone’s scared because we don’t know what the prices are going to be. Already, the prices have gone down and down. It’s harder to sell it."
The libertarianism on display by these stoners and marijuana growers is a bit on the hypocritical side. For one thing, keeping something illegal by consigning it to black (or gray) markets is not the same thing as keeping something free and unregulated. Real people go to jail over marijuana. Full legalization is far more free regardless of limits on the amount someone can possess. For all the talk of freedom and choice, illegal or semi-legal marijuana is not good for either.
The growers are even more revealing: cartels always worry about legalization because it will inevitably lead to higher supply, increased access, and lower prices. In other words: it’s good for consumers and bad for producers who can’t compete. So of course pot farmers worry about falling prices – so do dealers everywhere when rumblings of an end to marijuana prohibition begin.
The unlikely supporters of Prop 19?
On the other side, Proposition 19 also has some unlikely allies; a group of former judges, prosecutors and cops are all for legalizing pot.
"No one in the history of marijuana use has ever died of an overdose from marijuana," says Stephen Downing, a retired deputy chief of the LAPD.
Downing says marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. And he says arresting people for possessing marijuana is a waste of time for police; he says instead, they should be solving violent crimes and targeting those controlling the black market.
"Marijuana provides 95 percent of the cartels’ profits," says Downing, citing the hundreds of murders along the U.S.-Mexico border attributed to the drug cartels. "And they’re using the hundreds of thousands of gang members to bring about their distribution, their collections, their enforcement and their assassinations. We have a major, major violence problem, and if we take the cartels’ profits away, we’re going to start drying them up."
Marijuana activist Dale Sky Jones, who is eight months pregnant, says her group is following the lead of mothers in the 1930s who helped end the ban on alcohol.
"Prohibition ended because of moms," Jones says. "They knew the true danger from prohibition: violence, profits, illegality. This is an opportunity to end a failed policy."
Jones says Proposition 19 would put marijuana sales "out of the hands of criminals and in the hands of those that will control cannabis away from children."
It’s high time we ended the prohibition of marijuana. After that we can have debates on legal possession limits, tax rates, and reasonable regulations. The only people benefiting from this fight now are the dealers, while police, parents, and society as a whole pays the price. If corporations benefit from legalization, well I’ll take that over drug cartels any day of the bloody week. Right now the Prop 19 battle in California is a dead heat, and I don’t think we’ll know for sure until November 3rd whether the first real effort at curbing the egregious War on Drugs will be a victory or a failure.
P.S. When I describe the growers/stoners above as ‘libertarian’ I mean it as a bit of tongue-in-cheek: they don’t want to be taxed or regulated, they want to be free and have choice. All those things are only true as it applies to them however. It’s not really libertarian at all, but merely an illusion.