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Legalization Discussion in California

An historic event yesterday

No tie-dye was on display at a standing-room only hearing held by a California lawmaker on Wednesday in a bid to get his marijuana legalization bill taken seriously.

Instead, suits and sober discussion were the rule at the state Capitol as Assemblyman Tom Ammiano presided over what his office said was the first legislative consideration of the issue since California banned the drug in 1913.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with this bill, and I still think that it’s a long shot, but there’s never been a better time for it.

And even though this is obviously true, it was nice to see it mentioned…

Legal experts on both sides also agreed at the informational hearing that nothing in current federal law can prevent California from stripping criminal penalties for marijuana from its own books.

“If California decides to legalize marijuana, there’s nothing in the Constitution that stands in its way,” said Tamar Todd, a staff attorney for the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance.

This particular article did have a couple of annoying notes, one of which came from the Rand Corporation’s embarrassing Rosalie Pacula.

Rosalie Pacula, director of drug policy research at the nonpartisan Rand Corp., said data on the economics of marijuana were “insufficient on which to base any sound policy.”

Now, since we’ve had no modern version of legalization, that’s true enough, but that’s not a very good reason for continuing on a destructive path.

She continues…

Pacula said a failed effort in Canada to increase taxes on cigarettes showed that unless taxes had a minimal effect on prevailing prices, “you create the economic incentive for the black market to remain.”

There is a significant difference between nature and scope of the black market caused by high taxes and the black market caused by prohibition. Any “economist” who fails to note that is either stupid or willfully attempting to deceive their audience.

Note: I’ve written about Pacula before, more than once.

Back to yesterday’s event… Paul Armentano provides the testimony he gave at the hearing.

Also, YouTube video of James P. Gray’s testimony.

[Thanks, Tom]

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24 comments to Legalization Discussion in California

  • Wouldn’t it be cute if they legalized marijuana but with a $500/ounce tax, just so they could “prove” that black markets will continue and legalization doesn’t work. Don’t put such things past them.

    Of course it should be taxed, but at a reasonable rate. Drugs exist to be taxed – they are how all governments should be funded (not income taxes, not sales taxes, only drug taxes). It’s somewhat ironic that at this point, making marijuana legal and taxing it is likely the only way the state of California will be able to save itself from total bankruptcy and becoming the first failed American state. But we all know that the insane prohibitionists would prefer that to decriminalization. You know… for the children.

    It’s nice to hear some California lawmakers are at least trying to convey the illusion of a meaningful discussion about legalizing marijuana.

  • paul

    Pacula is right that high taxes will keep a black market around–so let’s keep them reasonable. Other than that it looks like very good news, even if it fails this time around. I think this is just a warm-up.

    I’ve noticed complaints about not having enough information are popular in prohibitionist circles these days. If tens of millions of users, numberless studies and vast cultural experience with MJ going back nearly a century aren’t enough information, I really can’t imagine what would suffice. It looks like the stuff is safer than aspirin.

    The argument is weak, lame, and easily dispensed with. If that’s the best our opponents can do these days, we’re in pretty good shape. They’re out of ammo.

  • Alex

    “Rosalie Pacula, director of drug policy research at the nonpartisan Rand Corp., said data on the economics of marijuana were ‘insufficient on which to base any sound policy.'”

    Since when does US drug policy have to be “sound”?

    I think it’s quite absurd that we’re in a situation where we have to propose why prohibition should repealed, when in fact that state of nature is one of legalization, thus it should be that prohibitionists should have to provide a valid reason for it to continue.

    Of course, this would not be possible without massive falsehoods and lies–which is exactly what happened.

    Now we have to take up this onus and fight with things such as “truth” and “common sense” and “civil liberties.” It’s like bringing a knife to gunfight. Luckily our opponents are too dense to figure out how to turn off the safety.

  • ezrydn

    I was glad to see Judge Gray hit the “condone” point in his presentation. Also, it’s nice to see someone of stature start publically beating down the “what about the children” tired old tirade.

  • claygooding

    If they allow individuals too grow their own,with limited plants,the self growers will keep the price down and
    the taxes limited,as it should. It will also take the huge profits out of the green market and remove the incentive for continued criminal activity in the green market.
    It really is a simple plant too grow.

  • I fully agree with claygooding, because it is also quite simply supply and demand.

    We have all lived the hypocrisy far too long in our lives.

    I hope I can find a seed or two by next Spring!

  • kaptinemo

    OT, at least as far as the testimony is concerned.

    I keep going on and on about how the economy will not support the DrugWar anymore. This is a foretaste of what will be in store for this country if it doesn’t pull its’ collective head out of someplace dark and smelly and make the realization that drug prohibition is too expensive to continue.

    In Alabama, when a man went on a shooting spree, the local police were so understaffed that troops from a nearby military base were called in – illegally – to maintain order. The local economy had been destroyed by the bankruptcy of the biggest employer thanks to the usual reasons (greed, over-reach, etc.) and there was no tax money to maintain a proper sized police force…a pattern that will be seen across this country as things become increasingly tighter.

    That means that eventually the entire country may be facing the inevitable decision: what warrants police intervention, and what does not? How much policing can we afford? And can we afford to waste increasingly dwindling resources on maintaining a wholly wasteful DrugWar?

    The time is fast approaching when such questions will be asked, not by easily dismissed (but no less correct) ‘druggies’, but by those in ‘authority’, and no amount of caterwauling and garment-rending by the professional prohibs and their cat’s-paws is going to stop it.

  • DdC

    I got here 20 years ago and thought this state wass just weird. Prop 215 passed and the governor wilson and AG lungreen increased busts. Peter, Todd and Rene got busted. One jailed, one extradited and one murdered. its still weird. No one knows more about the stupidity of Nixon’s lie. Yet they lead the nation in ConPromising. Yes its better to be taxed for a weed, than caged. As long as reality doesn’t take over Sacramento’s happy. I’m pretty sure its the organic sugar free kool aid.

    Why Is Pot Legalization Still Taboo?
    Almost every voter under 65 in this country has either smoked cannabis or grew up with people who did. Among its erstwhile users are the last three presidents, one Supreme Court justice and the mayor of the nation’s largest city. The pot leaf’s image pervades popular culture, from Bob Marley T-shirts to billboards for Showtime’s Weeds.

  • DdC

    It makes perfect Boosh sense Kapt.
    Send the National Guard to Iraq.
    Put the troops on the streets of America.
    USA! Qaeda. Thank you for not smoking…
    the burning Constitution.

  • kaptinemo: The US federal government will collapse within the next 2 years. once that happens, the rest of the world will be free to legalize drugs, and a century from now, I think history will properly reflect the fact that america’s irrational obsession with drug prohibition was the leading cause of its collapse. Other factors, like corruption, pervasive conflicts of interest, and an extremely stupid, lazy, ignorant, uneducated population are also contributing factors. Many people just assume that the US is “too big to fail” (or “too great and wonderful to fail”). It’s most certainly not. Nothing is. Right now we’re basically living off of continuous “bailouts” from China, who is buying our debt. But as the value of the dollar declines, we eventually won’t have the luxury of paying our debt in dollars – they’ll want it paid in Euros or some other, more stable currency.

  • I think it has already failed and collapsed financially and otherwise (US Fed Gov).

    But it could urgently be reversed because of the magically color of green.

    The sad but tue fact is that we will never get out of debt and now it feels like sort of a cancer of the Earth feeding off of the (forgive me) plain stupid masses again.

    All of this global effort of plant eradication should be reversed into growing potatoes and carrots and hemp sandals, rope, let’s make it a crime to kill any living organisim even a plant!

    If I believe everything I read now a days the fact is that the Earth is already half-dead any way from the (sad) coral reefs to the animal extinctions.

    The Bird Of Paradise are real but there are maybe four or five living now.

    If we can’t turn that fact around, well then yes, the seeds and the plants will regenerate the Earth again if Mankind self-destructs.

    The dinasaurs are proof enough for me and the fact that nary another drop of (more than sacred or precious) water is being found in the universe…that’s proof enough for me too.

  • Hey – I just had good idea – if I may say so – let’s terra-farm Earth and see what happens. (smile ya all).

    p.s. I adviced a friend of mine to smoke a doobie for her migraine the other day..yep..she testified today that it worked and ended her horrible pain and suffering! (sh-sh-sh…) Happy Halloween everyone…boo-boo-boo.

  • DdC

    Dose of Realism in Drug War by George Will
    Column:US CA: San Gabriel Valley Tribune 28 Oct 2009

  • paul

    I agree with Kaptinemo that the recession is severe and will put pressure on authorities to reign in unproductive spending. I very much hope it kills the drug war.

    However, I do not believe we are nearing collapse of any kind. The experience of the depression and the apocalyptic WW2 which followed puts our current troubles to shame. Of course, I could be wrong and things could get a lot worse, but I’m not inclined to believe so.

    We certainly would not want a political collapse. While our government is often incompetent, corrupt, thieving, bullying, and intrusive, it could be replaced by something much worse. It’s possible a collapse would result in some sort of happy, benignly anarchic muddle, but more likely it would be something ugly that is orders of magnitude worse than what we have now. A story out of the UK yesterday noted that 20% of the population would consider voting for the British National Party, which is openly fascist.

    @Wendy: Water is common. It was discovered on Mars recently, and Europa is a water world with a thick covering of ice that may even harbor life.

  • Just to be clear, when I talk about collapse of the federal government, I don’t mean fire and brimstone 2012 Mayan prophecy Nostradamus rapture crap. I do believe that Obama will be the last US president. The states will be on their own. They all already have governments (some more functional than others) so the transition from union to “group of 50 countries” will be relatively smooth and nonviolent (at least I think and hope so).

  • paul; yeah, I remembered that myself today. Thanks.

    But NASA did supposedly just waste $17M in moondust trial looking for a droplet of water.

    KSL.COM has something funny today; although it was found October 2nd, a seven-foot male plant was found out in the open city of Orem. Pretty Funny!

  • I read that Angel Raich survived surgery October 28th.

    Strength and Hope to You, Angel Raich, and Your Family.

  • Dusty

    I’m not condoning or condeming the use or cannabis sative or indinca BUT.. There is always a BUT

    REMEMBER PROP 215? 88% in favor was over turned by the state keeping cannabis in prohibition… If they had ANY brains they’d sell it and handle it the same way they do liquor and tobacco products. One need not be a rocket scientist to do the math on that profit margin. YET in 1996 despite an overwhelming approval from the public they put it to vote and OVER TURNED IT! This presents the question as or weather not this was just a ploy to find out who’s who.
    Prop215 can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_215_%281996%29

    About that math. I did a little based on 100 per ounce on that capitol gain which could be handled ENTIRELY by state owned retail outlets .. I like “Buds Are Us”.. it is around 4 billion a year give or take 10% error.

    Now lets look at that “math” on a national scale. amd for fecal matter and giggling we say 2 billion in revenue for an avg allowing flexibility for individual states to control their own retail prices. READY?! 2000000000000 X 48,,, are you sitting down?..SIT..

    $96000000000000,00

    DEFICIT, WHAT NATIONAL DEFICIT?

    FOOD for thought.

  • Dusty

    OMG I just sent a copy of this to the White House! And added this addendum:
    Cannibis propositions

    I was surfing the web, just goofing off when I found a site called DrugWarRant.com and I left this comment: I thought I would share it with you all.
    Dusty
    November 5th, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I’m not condoning or condeming the use or cannabis sative or indinca BUT.. There is always a BUT

    REMEMBER PROP 215? 88% in favor was over turned by the state keeping cannabis in prohibition… If they had ANY brains they’d sell it and handle it the same way they do liquor and tobacco products. One need not be a rocket scientist to do the math on that profit margin. YET in 1996 despite an overwhelming approval from the public they put it to vote and OVER TURNED IT! This presents the question as or weather not this was just a ploy to find out who’s who.
    Prop215 can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_215_%281996%29

    About that math. I did a little based on 100 per ounce on that capitol gain which could be handled ENTIRELY by state owned retail outlets .. I like “Buds Are Us”.. it is around 4 billion a year give or take 10% error.

    Now lets look at that “math” on a national scale. amd for fecal matter and giggling we say 2 billion in revenue for an avg allowing flexibility for individual states to control their own retail prices. READY?! 2000000000000 X 48,,, are you sitting down?..SIT..

    $96000000000000,00

    DEFICIT, WHAT NATIONAL DEFICIT?

    FOOD for thought.

    addendum: From a criminal stand point this would also pull the bottom out of the black market rendering cannibis COMPLETLY useless to criminal enterprize and placing that in the hands of state owned stores. The revenue would solve allot of trouble you gotta admit. I think some of this money could also be used to fully equip police depts all over the nation. Think about Las Vegas. They have the best equiped PD on the planet. Funded almost ENTIRELY on gambling revenues. Looking at the lesser or two weevils Cannibis is a very small bug.

    To the site owner: Not to worry about them finding out about your site… They already know about it.

  • Dusty

    OK one more. I am DEAD set against chemical process contraband. THIS should be the target, That is the problem. nearly ALL felonious criminal activity is conducted by users of meth and other drugs like PCP,lysergics and opioids. I’ll probably get some hate over that, and yes I see how cities like Amsterdam handle “that” problem it is just that nearly all of the serious crimes I see on the news are committed by users of these dangerous compounds.

    What to users of cannabis want to do?
    1 Put the barkalounger in over drive
    2 Watch cartoons
    3 have sex
    4 Munch out
    5 sleep

    They don’t go out, they order in and kick back. They do not run amok reeking havoc and creating mayhem.I have yet to meet a violent cannabis user.

  • Dusty

    OMG Wendy…lol I live about an hour from happy valley.. I thought it was that 98% of people there are on PROZAC!..lol

  • Dusty

    BRUCE! Where have you been? Google NWO… and while your at it you might find TheFluCase.com interesting. Also google the mass pharmaceutical drugging of this nation! They are creating diseases and disorders right along side EXPERIMENTAL DRUGS which are killing people right and left I might add, And they intend to make it a PUBLIC FORCED POLICY.. I call them “The Mod Squad” or Merchants Of Death if you prefer.. The LEADING cause of death in the civilized world (uh huh) is western medicine as we know it killing over a quarter of a million people in the US alone yearly.
    This includes medical mistakes, pharmaceutical, mis diagnosis and other factors.

  • T.K.O.

    I smoked my first joint when I was in my teens. I graduated from High School with good grades, went onto complete 4 years of College & after that I held down two jobs for several years. I am now 46 and I still smoke Pot.
    It is not something I do daily. I smoke it mostly to relax and deal with the aches and pains. I am 100% in agreement with Dusty on everything he posted. The revenue that could be generated from Marijuana is pretty much infinity and for a ‘drug’ that shouldn’t even be called a drug. It certainly is not a dangerous drug! And that revenue could be used to get those dangerous drugs and the people who sell and use them off the streets. There are so many cells being occupied by pot users serious that could/should be freed up to contain serious criminals.
    As with anything … you can use it or abuse it! I do not abuse it. Three hits off a pipe 3 or 4 times a week. I don’t smoke and drive and I’m not a drinkers. And Marijuana was NOT a gateway to other drugs for me either. In all honesty, all of these over medicated children, and there are a lot of them, would probably do better being treated with Marijuana than the super, mega prescription drugs with all of their nasty side effects that the Big Pharma is making a mint of off!!!
    It’s all Politics! I lived in California and I was one of those who voted in favor of Prop. 215 and the way the Powers That Be just overturned it’s huge passing … well … the people spoke and the Government spoke back. I have not voted since then. What is the point of voting if our votes, WE THE PEOPLE don’t count, what’s the point?
    Enough for now.
    Have a Great Day All

  • T.K.O.

    Excuse the typos. It has been a long day.
    And NO I am not high right now. ~smiles~