Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

July 14, 2010
Pot legalization ballot statements offer starkly different realities

The ballot arguments submitted for and against legalizing marijuana in California present such starkly different views they seemed penned from different worlds.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Mothers Against Drunk Driving president Laura Dean-Mooney signed the ballot argument against legalizing pot.

Retired San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara, former Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray and retired Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Stephen Downing signed the argument in favor.

In statements for Proposition 19, scheduled to be published July 20, proponents claim marijuana "prohibition" has been a costly disaster that California can't afford and say pot should be legalized, taxed and regulated like alcohol.

In the opposing argument, furnished by the "no" on 19 campaign, Public Safety First, Feinstein and Dean-Mooney claim legalizing marijuana beyond current medical use would cost California schools $9.4 billion in federal funding. And they suggest that employers permitting workers to peddle candy bars at the office for charities may even have to accommodate "any employee with a 'license' to sell marijuana."

Here are more excerpts from the Feinstein and Dean-Mooney argument:

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) strongly opposes Proposition 19 because it will prevent bus and trucking companies from requiring their drivers to be drug-free. Companies won't be able to take action against a "stoned" driver until after he or she has a wreck, not before.

School districts may currently require school bus drivers to be drug-free, but if Proposition 19 passes, their hands will be tied - until after tragedy strikes..."

"The California Chamber of Commerce found that "if passed, this initiative could result in employers losing public contracts and grants because they no longer effectively enforce the drug-free workplace requirements outlined by the federal government..."

"Proposition 19 is simply a jumbled legal nightmare that will make our highways, our workplaces and our communities less safe."

Here are excerpts from the argument of McNamara, Gray and Downing, furnished by the "yes on 19 campaign, Control and Tax Cannabis 2010.

Prohibition has created a violent criminal market run by international drug cartels. Police waste millions of taxpayer dollars targeting non-violent marijuana consumers, while thousands of violent crimes go unsolved. And there is $14 billion in marijuana sales every year in California, but our debt-ridden state gets nothing from it. Marijuana prohibition has failed...

Proposition 19 was carefully written to get marijuana under control. Under Proposition 19, only adults 21 and over can possess up to one ounce of marijuana, to be consumed at home or licensed establishments. Medical marijuana patients' rights are preserved...

Proposition 19 maintains strict criminal penalties for driving under the influence, increases penalties for providing marijuana to minors, and bans smoking it in public, on school grounds, and around minors. Proposition 19 keeps workplaces safe by preserving the right of employers to maintain a drug-free workplace.

Two arguments, different universes.

Read and decide. For yes on 19, click here. For no, click here.

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