Election Day is fast approaching, and it’s a big one for California. Along with a critical presidential contest, voters in the Golden State will decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreation.
The case for a yes vote is strong, and polls show it’s winning. Roughly 60 percent of Californians say they support the idea generally, and most plan to vote for Proposition 64, the ballot initiative that would legalize pot.
Also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, Prop. 64 would allow adults over 21 to buy, possess, and use up to 1 ounce of cannabis for any reason. Locals could also grow up to six plants at home. And the law would create regulations for a recreational cannabis industry, plus a special sales tax.
Stoners already know the many reasons to vote yes on 64. There’s the massive problem with prison overcrowding in California, fueled largely by petty marijuana busts. There’s the endemic violence that goes with any black market. And there’s the simple fact that we love our weed.
But let’s play devil’s advocate for a few paragraphs. Are there reasons you should consider voting no on 64?
Here are three. They’re hardly convincing, but worth considering, if only for the intellectual exercise.
So far, the numbers suggest reform leads to less crime, not more. Obviously marijuana busts drop, since many of those crimes are no longer crimes, but violent and other serious offenses could follow.
Still, pot shops have been known to draw the occasional criminal element. It depends largely on location and security measures. But since banks won’t work with marijuana outlets, those businesses must hold large amounts of cash, making them targets for robbers.
That doesn’t mean retail marijuana stores have defiled neighborhoods in states where the drug is now legal. Liquor store robberies are probably much more common in those places.
But if fear of muggings and burglaries is what gets you out of bed, Prop. 64 may not be your thing. It won’t get you mugged, but it could lead to TV news stories that scare you even more.
This one seems pretty clear-cut. Alcohol is the most heavily abused drug by both adults and children because it is the easiest to find. If marijuana becomes legal, more kids will abuse it too.
The numbers don’t back this up: The states where pot is now legal report less teen cannabis use, not more. But many voters worry their kids will grow up to be shiftless potheads merely by touching the drug before turning 21. If you’re one of them, Prop. 64 may not be a good choice.
The last thing America needs right now is more drug use, right? Addicts are dying of heroin overdoses in record numbers – first in New England, then the Mid-Atlantic states, and now throughout the Midwest – and it makes sense that cannabis would only aggravate the problem.
It is a drug, after all, and there is such a thing as a marijuana addict. They’re relatively rare, and their toking typically causes less damage than even a light cigarette habit, but addiction is scary, and it’s hard to watch suffering people suffer.
Legalization is actually improving the situation, in part by helping opiate addicts use less of those drugs and even withdraw completely. But many people don’t see it that way. If you simply can’t tolerate the idea of drug use, a vote against 64 may be your only principled choice.
Let’s just hope that’s not the case.
Leave a comment below: Could anything convince you to vote against legalizing marijuana in California?