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Cannabis could grow funds for state

Editorial Cartoon by Michael Escañuelas

Editorial Cartoon by Michael Escañuelas

Legalizing marijuana. Some say it’s a bad idea, Many say it’s a great idea. But now that the issue has been transformed into an official proposal to be placed on California ballot in November, people on both sides are likely to make their voices heard loud and clear in the months ahead until the big day.

After receiving more than 693,000 valid signatures, the California secretary of state’s office certified the initiative for the general election ballot on March 24.

If the proposition, known as the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010,” is successful, there could be some highly beneficial changes to the state of California.

An estimated $15 billion is spent on illegal marijuana every year in California alone. Taxing and regulating it could mean billions of dollars in annual revenues for California, which is probably the main selling point for supporters of the measure, many who do not even smoke.

Whether or not this new revenue would directly fund what matters most right now (jobs and schools) has yet to be determined, but there is no doubt that California needs all the billions it could get. Period.

Another benefit would involve freeing up our prisons for actual violent criminals. California spends millions annually on convicting and locking up offenders, many who seek the same degree of mental and physical impairment as those who can legally smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.

On the surface, it can be difficult to support the legalization of a drug that many abuse and end up becoming addicted to. But if people rewind back 80 years to the days of prohibition, they will remember that restricting alcohol consumption did not exactly stop alcohol consumption. During the 1920s and 1930s, New York had between 30,000 and 100,000 speakeasies, establishments that illegally sold alcohol during the prohibition era.

Society was not as decent as political leaders had hoped, which eventually lead to the legalization of alcohol, with regulations.

This is similar to what can happen in California, regulation. If marijuana is taxed and regulated, users 21 and older will only be allowed to posses up to one ounce and will be banned from smoking in public and where minors are present. It will also be illegal to smoke at school and users cannot be under the influence when behind the wheel.

Since law has not and cannot stop the recreational use of marijuana, it would be smart to at least regulate it and make much-needed revenue off of it.

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