23 October 2010

Prop 19 - A Kind 'of Mellower Politics

Today down in Mission Beach, Sandi and I walked past Pro-Proposition 19 Activists. Earlier we had seen a bumper sticker: Yes we Cannabis. Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana in California and unsurprisingly, these political activists were remarkably mellow. "Vote yes on 19!" They hollered as we walked by. "At least one of us won't," I said, in reference to Sandi's Canadian citizenship. "That's cool," said one of the activists, quite affably.

I did hear that the federal government will still enforce the federal laws against marijuana even if California legalizes it. As if the federal government does not have enough in its corner in this battle, just imagine mellow state officials facing off against tense FBI. "We are going to confiscate this marijuana," FBI officials would say. "Dude," protest the state officials. And like that, the contest is over. It is worth noting that Jamaica has never attacked or invaded another country.

If you wonder how it is that some drugs are illegal so that their sale makes gangsters rich and some are legal so that their sale makes pharmaceutical companies rich, think productivity. Drugs that make you more alert, functional, and productive - think caffeine, nicotine, and Prozac - are legal. Drugs that simply make you feel better but make you less productive are illegal.

Drugs that alter consciousness are about as ancient as pickled foods. It's not obvious that they'll ever be eradicated or that the marijuana prohibition is any more likely to be successful in the long run than the alcohol prohibition.

Rumor has it that the Mexican drug cartels are putting a ton of money into advertising against the proposition. That might be reason enough to pass it. Mexico is essentially being held hostage by drug cartels and anything that helps to defuse their grip on our neighbors seems good.

But to go back to the affable activists, perhaps we should start out with a small scale experiment in legalization before making marijuana legal in the entire state or country. Given how bellicose and uptight are so many politicians and political analysts, maybe we should not just legalize it for people in politics, but require it. Then, after we've studied its effect on them, we can determine whether to legalize it for wider swaths of the population. At the very least, it could make the political debates in this country a little more mellow and less strident. Who doesn't like the sound of that?

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