The ‘Just Say No’ egg left the frying pan a long time ago. 

Our nation is losing its war on drugs. The once-ferocious fight against the use of marijuana has retreated into a crevasse of inconsequential court cases. 

We believe Proposition 19 would pour unneeded gas on the fire. 

Our law enforcement agencies and judicial system swim in a sea of marijuana possession misdemeanors, but opening the flood gates won’t make the problem or California’s budget deficit go away.

Money, more than anything, is the impetus behind Prop. 19. It’s an ill-conceived cash grab. For that reason, we recommend voting ‘no’ on one of this election season’s most discussed initiatives.

There is no working model for legalized cannabis to mimic and plenty of poor examples that should bring pause. 

The allure of a new revenue stream from new taxes — estimated as high as $1.4 billion by the state Board of Equalization — could be nothing more than mirage. That sum would barely dent our debt and could be offset by unpredictable consequences, including costs to fight an influx of substance abuse and drug-related driving under the influence arrests.

And Proposition 19 is largely unnecessary.

Legislation already signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — and set to take hold Jan. 1 — will make possessing up to an ounce of marijuana a citation on par with a traffic ticket. No criminal record. Less clogging of our courts.

Anyone with need for more than a sandwich baggie of marijuana will be dealt with on a different level, no matter the initiative’s outcome. 

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And in a state where acquiring medical marijuana is as easy as ‘anxiety’ in the right doctor’s office, access is not an issue. 

So if those who need marijuana already have it and the penalty for its possession among the un-anxious is already being diminished, who exactly does this proposition help?

Mostly people like its primary proponent and financial backer, Richard Lee. Lee is a medical marijuana provider in Oakland and owner of Oaksterdam University, a self-proported cannabis university, teaching people about how to make money in the cannabis industry. Lee has already made millions in the marijuana trade and his business would know no greater boon than the passing of Prop. 19.

The initiative is less a white flag being raised on the war on drugs than a red herring for the growth of an emerging industry’s bottom line.

And bottom line, it is hard to see how its passage would make us a better community.


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