It’s high time to legalize marijuana

Andrew Fergin

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The legalization of marijuana has been the poster child of controversy in California for some time now. Recently, however, a bill titled AB 2254 has been approved for the coming November ballots, proposing to legalize marijuana. Though this may just sound like another effort by the hippies to bring the 60s back, there are in fact some major benefits for the state if the bill passes.

The bill, if passed, will take a portion of the money generated from taxes on marijuana and put them toward establishing drug safety and awareness programs in schools. These programs would educate children about marijuana and inform them of the dangers associated with harder drugs. With funding for education already in the red, it’s not likely that the opportunity to acquire the money to establish such programs will arise again anytime soon.

People without medicinal marijuana cards are purchasing marijuana through illegal channels that also deal more dangerous drugs. If marijuana were to become a legally regulated commodity, the average consumer’s exposure to illegal drugs would be radically reduced, creating a safer environment.

The United States presently spends a substantial amount of money annually to fight illegal drugs on the street. Of these drugs, marijuana is among the most prevalent every year. The result is that illegal marijuana generates a significant amount of revenue for drug cartels. This revenue then goes toward the funding of weapon production and the creation of synthetic drugs like Ecstasy and PCP. With the legalization of marijuana, these cartels would lose one of their primary cash crops, reducing their ability to create and circulate their more dangerous drugs onto American streets.

Data published by the United Nations in the study World Drug Report shows that in the United States more than 12 percent of all citizens use marijuana. The majority of that marijuana is sold illegally and goes toward funding drug cartels. If bill AB 2254 were to pass in November, that money would instead be feeding back into the economy in the form of billions of dollars worth of tax money.

Perhaps there was a time when marijuana was a problem and circumstances called for the drug to be banned in full. If such circumstances existed however, they have long since passed. The benefit of banning marijuana no longer outweighs the benefit of its legalization. With the state economy still abysmal, it is the duty of the citizens of California to take a more active part in revitalizing their once flourishing state. Changing marijuana into a legal state regulated commodity represents the first step toward this revitalization, and for this reason it is imperative that Californians recognize the opportunity offered to the state by bill AB 2254.