Is California Going to Pot?

Tuesday, 19 Oct 2010 11:35 AM

By Brad Blakeman

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California voters are going to the ballot box on Nov. 2 to decide whether to legalize marijuana.

The initiative, known as Proposition 19, seeks to make the sale and use of marijuana legal in the state of California for all adults over the age of 21. If passed, there would be no criminality for adults possessing less than one ounce of pot.

Proponents of Prop 19 are making an economic argument in advancing their initiative. Supporters claim that a privatized commercial marijuana industry could bring in as much as $1.4 billion dollars to taxes to a state treasury in desperate need of cash.

Unions claim that marijuana farms would be a huge shot in the arm to California¹s agricultural market.

It is no surprise that the ultra-left Service Employee International Union (SEIU); California's most powerful labor union, supports Prop 19 as does the second biggest union in California — the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

This is what SEIU President Bill A. Lloyd said in support of Prop 19, "These new revenues will help the state and local governments protect and invest in families."

It is outrageous as a matter of economic policy to legalize a controlled substance as a tool to increase government revenues at a time when a state is facing deep budget deficits.

California's potheads could win the battle but lose the war. Proponents could see their dreams go up in smoke, because, even if California's Prop 19 passes, California law will be pre-empted from taking affect because federal law trumps state law.

Under federal law, marijuana is deemed to be a controlled substance.

If Prop 19 passes, pressure will be great for the federal government to step up and challenge California law in federal court. This battle could make it all the way to the Supreme Court on the issue of the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution to wit:

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby."

In short, all citizens are obligated to follow federal law in the face of conflicting state law.

It should be noted that all nine former administrators of the Drug Enforcement Agency, both candidates for governor, and every active police chief in California do not support Prop 19.

At a time when Americans are concerned for their health and the high costs of healthcare, along comes California with a law that if passed will legalize a controlled substance that not only will get you high but will destroy your physical and mental health.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana has detrimental affects specifically on the brain, heart, and lungs. The following includes some of what NIDA has said with regard to marijuana usage.

"Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person's existing problems worse. In one study, heavy marijuana abusers reported that the drug impaired several important measures of life achievement including physical and mental health, cognitive abilities, social life, and career status.

"Several studies associate workers' marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers' compensation claims, and job turnover."

Further information can be found at the NIDA website.

It has long been argued that marijuana is a gateway drug for teens to experiment with other more dangerous and addictive drugs. Many who argue against the legalization of marijuana claim that drug smuggling from Mexico and elsewhere will increase, not lessen, because of increased demand.

Although lame-duck California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is publicly against Prop 19, the governor last week signed a bill that reduces the penalty for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor criminal offense to a non-criminal infraction.

A poll conducted last week by the Public Policy Institute of California is reporting support for Prop 19 is at 52 percent while 41 percent oppose it and 7 percent are undecided.

What are they smoking in California? Wait, I think I know.

Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University.



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