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May 2, 2010

"Legalizing marijuana not really a dopey idea"

The title of this post is the headline of this new commentary by Michael Stetz of the San Diego Union Tribune, which includes some notable and important data about prison populations and arrests in California. Here are excerpts:

Who knows, in the near future, on a Friday night after a tough week of work, those so inclined could legally fire up a joint. And who knows, by California allowing that, some of this might happen:

A) The tax base gets a much-needed bump.

B) Cops can chase real bad guys, not recreational pot smokers.

C) The medical marijuana farce goes up in smoke because the drug can be had legally. (A lot of bad backs? Mysteriously cured!)

D) And another possible consequence: Prisons would have more room to house society’s worst criminals, particularly violent sex offenders....

A referendum will be on the November ballot, permitting personal use of the drug for those 21 and over. Cities or counties could allow for its sale and tax it. (Or not, it’ll be up to them.) It’ll also be OK for people to grow small amounts of it. “It would free up prison spaces for really, really bad guys,” said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Granted, California’s prisons are not overflowing with marijuana criminals. Only about 1,630 — or 1 percent — are serving time for either having significant amounts of marijuana, selling the drug or cultivating it. But 1,630 spaces are 1,630 spaces. (Enjoy one, John Gardner.) By comparison, there are 2,446 inmates — or 1.4 percent — serving time for rape....

In 2008, the most current year for statistics, 78,000 marijuana arrests were made statewide. About four-fifths were for small amounts of marijuana — less than an ounce. It’s a misdemeanor, so you don’t get jail time, but it’s on your record.

These misdemeanor arrests have been skyrocketing, jumping 127 percent from 1990 to 2008. While cops are going like gangbusters against pot smokers, they’re not doing so well when it comes to violent criminals. In 1999, the statewide clearance rate for violent crimes was 50 percent. In 2008, it was 43.5 percent.

“One of the best reasons for doing this is it allows for the reallocation of law enforcement,” said Quintin Mecke, spokesman for San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who has introduced legislation to legalize marijuana for those over 21.

May 2, 2010 at 02:17 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"The War on Drugs is the most destructive and dysfunctional social policy in America since Slavery"

Posted by: Biff Jones | May 3, 2010 1:14:38 AM

It is time to end the war on Marijuana. I hope California will legalize marijuana.

Posted by: Marine | May 3, 2010 2:14:46 PM

It is a great idea to legalize cannabis or marijuana in our society. There has been too much drug dealing on the streets where children play and organized crime came into play too because so much money to be made in the line of business. If it is legal then all of the crime and drug lords and the substantial monies to be made disappear. In the same effect as when alcohol or liquor use to be illegal in Prohibition Era, now look at it, it is legal and you have to be legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages or liquor.
The governmental will make revenue from this also by implying taxation to it.
Everyone would be happy and life could go on as usual!

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