It’s time to legalize: end the war on pot

bullet image Nicholas D. Kristof in the New York Times: End the War on Pot

Our nearly century-long experiment in banning marijuana has failed as abysmally as Prohibition did, and California may now be pioneering a saner approach. Sure, there are risks if California legalizes pot. But our present drug policy has three catastrophic consequences.

First, it squanders billions of dollars that might be better used for education. […]

The second big problem with the drug war is that it has exacerbated poverty and devastated the family structure of African-Americans. Partly that’s because drug laws are enforced inequitably. Black and Latino men are much more likely than whites to be stopped and searched and, when drugs are found, prosecuted. […]

The third problem with our drug policy is that it creates crime and empowers gangs. “The only groups that benefit from continuing to keep marijuana illegal are the violent gangs and cartels that control its distribution and reap immense profits from it through the black market,” a group of current and former police officers, judges and prosecutors wrote last month in an open letter to voters in California. […]

One advantage of our federal system is that when we have a failed policy, we can grope for improvements by experimenting at the state level. I hope California will lead the way on Tuesday by legalizing marijuana.

bullet image Financial Times Editorial (free registration required): High time to legalise marijuana

Just say no, the slogan says. But on November 2, California has the chance to say yes, at least to marijuana. Proposition 19 would legalise the production, sale and use of cannabis, abolishing an ineffective and socially damaging prohibition on a substance with fewer health risks than alcohol and tobacco. The Golden State should vote to legalise dope. […]

However California votes, marijuana will remain illegal in the US. Nor will Proposition 19 weed out all the social problems caused by narcotics use. But it will make a start at removing a failed policy that exacerbates these ills – an approach which could, if successful, perhaps in time be applied to other drugs. It is time to say yes.

This is an open thread.

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28 Responses to It’s time to legalize: end the war on pot

  1. Cannabis says:

    If nothing else we have have now come to a point where we can have reasonable discussions in the media rather than bad pot puns in headlines and ‘ere jokes in the body of a story or op-ed piece.

  2. Ben Mann says:

    Win or lose, Prop 19 has massively elevate the level of the conversation. And if Prop19 gets at least 45% of the vote, people will realize that it’s probably going to pass in 2012, when turnout is more favorable and we have a war chest more like $10 million.

    Perhaps we’ll start seeing some real politicians admit that they have changed their minds, and that they now see that prohibition is bad policy.

    Along these lines, what are the chances that Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina might come out in a fit of desperation and say “Hey! I have changed my position, and I will support Prop19 and pot legalization, and anyone coming out to vote for Prop19, vote for me!” They might actually WIN.

  3. Just me. says:

    Pass or not…people ARE going to continue to consume cannabis…nothing government can do about it.

  4. Just me. says:

    The children have awoken to the fact thier parents are abusive and they are rebeling…

  5. Very glad that major opinion writers are adding their voice to the growing chorus that the emperor is naked.

    Hats off to you for maintaining this blog in addition to everything else you do.

    I share your outrage and check this blog daily to keep it righteously stoked.

  6. Kevin says:

    There are other people who benefit from prohibition. The whole justice system profits immensely. A very large portion of police budgets are from the War on Drugs. Politicians don’t want it legal because they get to hand out said funds, putting them in a position to strong arm people who challenge them.

  7. tintguy says:

    I can’t help but feeling like the prop would be leading by a comfortable margin if the passage about not being able to fire a cannabis consumer unless poor performance is proven wasn’t there. IMHO it should have read “prove impairment” and left the metabolite test battle for another day.
    But what do I know? I am just a blue-collar barely-literate swimming in a sea of scholastic sharks on this blog so feel free to bite me with a better opinion.

  8. Mark says:

    The FT editorial can be had via the Yes-on19 website homepage, quite registration-free.

  9. Servetus says:

    Huff post has a good article entitled ‘Prop 19 Opponents Veer Off Into Paranoia’ including stats of minority pot arrests in some California cities, and a Star Chamber ad against Prop 19:

  10. Windy says:

    I hope the majority of Californians vote “yes” on Prop19, and the majority of Oregonians vote “yes” on M-74, at least. It is not a perfect law, but it is a good beginning; and, as many have pointed out, “we don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good”.

    As for voting in general, with this election I have stopped voting for candidates to the state legislature and congress and other state and federal positions (gov, prez), since in my state no third party candidate will ever again get on the general election ballot, thanks to the version of “top two” primary the state adopted after our open primary was declared unconstitutional. I won’t vote for any elected position except judges (non-partisan) but I will continue to vote on issues. I am urging my friends and family (and strangers) to do the same, because if enough people do it, a really low number of votes for elected positions in comparison to the total number of ballots voted (and counted) should send a very loud message to the damn politicians that the voters hate the way they’ve rigged the system, not to mention the way they’ve legislated.

  11. Servetus says:

    Sorry, the reference to California city stats on minority pot arrests are here:

    Author Jesse Levine does a good job of showing that California Senate Bill 1449, which reduces cannabis possession to an infraction, is not enough to stop the abuses being committed by law enforcement, in an article entitled: It’s Not Just a Ticket: The Marijuana Possession “Infraction”.

  12. darkcycle says:

    I’m here too, Windy. You’re right about the institutional rigging here in the fair state of Washington. Unfortunately, the fewer people who vote, the better as far as the Poli-tricksters are concerned. All they care about is getting the majority of votes that are cast, not what the vote totals in aggregate are

  13. ezrydn says:


    My tact is easy. NO INCUMBENTS! I voted last week and not one incumbent received a mark. If they won’t give me a choice, then I’ll clean house every voting period. If more people did that, maybe the dynos in DC would catch a hint.

  14. Big M says:

    Unfortunately, voting is largely useless and almost thoroughly rigged, especially with the use of these insidious touch-screen vote-flippers, which don’t return any paper trail for audit purposes, even though the same companies that manufacture them can and do make ATMs used around the country. And guess what they do? Coincidence? Sure.

    Watch the results closely. You’ll probably hear at 11:00 PM that “it’s too close to call,” giving the prohibitionists a chance to yank out the rug while you’re all sleeping. The easiest elections to steal are the “close ones” (they make these calls regardless of what pre-election or exit polls say), and the “secret vote” is the mother of all vote fraud. Your identity should be kept secret, but WHY YOUR VOTE? Think about it.

    Besides, if you don’t see who counted your vote, you don’t know whether your vote, or anybody else’s, was actually counted. But hope for the best, anyway, right?

  15. mikekinseattle says:

    Yeah, the Washington state top two system has been a blow to third party candidates, who may represent valid alternatives to democrats and republicans, or at least permit us to cast a protest vote against the entrenched parties.

  16. Cliff says:

    “As for voting in general, with this election I have stopped voting for candidates to the state legislature and congress and other state and federal positions (gov, prez), since in my state no third party candidate will ever again get on the general election ballot, thanks to the version of “top two” primary the state adopted after our open primary was declared unconstitutional.”

    If I was confronted with this situation, I would still vote. The way I would make my statement is to vote against every incumbent.

  17. darkcycle says:

    The best one can do in Washington is to use your write in vote if you truely don’t support either of the two main party candidates. Unfortunately, that basically nullifies your vote. Since even our national system would hand the victory over to one of the two major parties in the event of a sweeping victory by a third party, Washington is only a little more reflective of the political status in this country than the usual. Check it out, the only recognized official political parties are the Refiblicans and the Liarcrats. No third party victory could be recognized in this country.

  18. If I had a rocket launcher says:

    It’s simply amazing to me. It seems almost as if Prop 19 is the only thing on the ballot next Tuesday, and that it’s a national election, not a single state.

    Any updates on Arizona’s Prop 203?

    South Dakota has a ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis, at least I seem to vaguely recall something like that.

    Oregon has an initiative to create dispensaries.

    Even that clown faced Andrew Cuoumo deciding that shitting on 70% of his states voters would improve his chance of being elected Governor has raised barely a peep.

    Poor Meg Whitman, she’s spent almost a 1/5 of a trillion with a t dollars to get elected. Does anyone know what office she’s running for and in which state she hopes to be elected?

    For crying out loud Gov Moonbeam wants a revival of his 1970s feat of guiding the good ship California onto the reef and all but sink her. I guess he wants to finish the job he started back then.

    Oh yeah, those wacky voters in Colorado are voting on an initiative to amend the State Constitution and add the protection of law to their residents still in utero. Row vs Wade? Wouldn’t that be dependent on the speed and depth of the water? Does anyone really give a shit about reproductive rights?

    But the entire country can’t stop debating whether California will fine their potheads $100 or not. For the love of all that is holy and wise we’re fucking talking about pot. Coming from me that’s got to mean something. I love consuming cannabis. I’m 100% certain that I would be a long time dead without it. In me you have the epitome of a single issue voter that suffers tunnel vision on his issue.

    Well I scoffed a number of weeks ago when AP declared Prop 19 the most important ballot initiative to be decided next Tuesday. AP was correct, my bad.

    Cheeze-its god, we have met the enemy and he is US.

  19. Just me. says:

    As soon as they introduced these damned electronic votes, things went down hill…electronics people! Hell you cant keep hackers out of pentagon computers, now we got this shit….rigging is the name of the game for criminals and we got lots of those in government. Hell this whole system has always been rigged against the people. Where does that leave us in this vote? What choice do we have. Pass or not…..people will continue to consume cannabis.

    The thing is, because of prop 19 , this discussion has been raise to a national level. People are seeing just how hypocritic our government is, just how wrong they are. just how much prohibition benefits them not America as a whole. So pass or not….rigged or not…they are not getting out of this fire and the more they try, the more they WILL get burned.

  20. Dano says:

    Glad to see that the Yes on 19 is getting the last minute attention it deserves. Maybe that was part of the plan; wait until the final week and then try to push all the intelligent arguments out there for the last minute decisions. I hope the numbers are there to just push us over the top!

  21. darkcycle says:

    Jeez, Duncan. All that stuff is true, but there is still only one measure on any ballot anywhere….ever..seeking to legalize the weed. Obviously we’re distracted.

  22. claygooding says:

    70% plus win. Anyone got a pool going yet?
    Allan,we need a poster of a three dollar bill with the AG/Kerli/Obama poised like MT Rushmore and Larry,Kerli and Moe on the banner underneath. I know you are a photographer but figure you could add some special background art from your pics,,,,,,tee heeeeeee

  23. thelburt says:

    I’ll take 56% yes. and even if we lose i won’t cry. we already have the opposition worried.

  24. darkcycle says:

    55-45, Puffins over the Albatrosses. Albatrosses pull a ninth inning rally from waaay back, due to absentees, but it won’t be enough, Puffins win the first game of the series….

  25. darkcycle says:

    Actually, just playing with the sports analogy..I think it’ll be on the order of 65-35, Puffins.

  26. Windy says:

    darkcycle, I know we both live in the same state, in fact we both live in the same county.

    I still think if only 30% (or even 45%) of total voted ballots counted contained votes on candidate races it would scare the two parties enough to begin to put decent candidates out there for us to choose from instead of the authoritarian, statist assholes they give us now.

  27. Devin says:

    Weed needs to be legalized before i turn 21, i have a very deep passion for marijuana, there are soo many reasons that it needs to be leagalized not only because i am a pot smoker myself, but also because it could help this country a lot, i go threw a lot of depression, but whenever something makes me sad or mad i just smoke some weed and then i can be happy no matter what, it would help the economy a lot if it was leagalized and if the government taxed it, a lot of kids today are courrupted by other hard drugs and a lot of people say it’s because marijuana is a gateway drug, this is not true, if it was legal a lot of people wouldnt be getting into these harder drugs, a lot of people get pot from drug dealers and most drug dealers have weed in one hand and then hard drugs in the other hand, but if we could buy pot in stores like alcohol people wouldnt even have to go to them drug dealers. There is also religous belives over marijuana, people belive it is the herb of life, there is a church for it in california, it even says in the bible “god put every herb baring seed on this earth” and marijuana is a herb. So with all this said, why in the hell is it not legalized??………….LEGALIZE IT!!! ……..stay blazin’ – Devin Hazelwood

  28. darkcycle says:

    Windy, Go Vikings! Too bad about Stuart’s moving from Bay street, huh? The Market location doesn’t have the same old atmosphere. Wink.

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