Legalize Marijuana: Time to Act Is Now

Newshawk: Published Letters Awards



Your editorial against Proposition 19 (“No on Prop. 19,” Sept. 16)
once again shows that The Chronicle clearly hasn’t done its homework
with regard to marijuana policy.

Indeed, the devil is in the details, and with closer review, you
would have understood that Prop. 19 is more than just a “slogan or
concept.” It is an opportunity to overturn the utter failure of years
of marijuana prohibition.

I introduced AB390 nearly two years ago not only to address
California’s economic crisis but more importantly to begin a rational
discussion about how best to regulate the state’s largest cash crop,
estimated to be worth roughly $14 billion a year.

The reality is clear: Marijuana is a huge part of our state’s
economy, and we can no longer afford to keep our heads in the
sand. The time to act is now. No bill or proposition is perfect,
and certainly Prop. 19 has some flaws, but to agree that the “war on
drugs” has been an abject failure yet refuse to take action to change
it simply defies all logic and common sense.

At what point do we say enough is enough? In 2008 alone, more than
61,000 Californians were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana
possession. That same year, about 60,000 violent crimes went
unsolved statewide. Resources tied up fighting marijuana would be
better spent solving and preventing violent felonies and other major
crimes. In its report on Prop. 19, the state Legislative Analyst’s
Office wrote that “jail beds needed for marijuana offenders could be
used for other criminals who are now being released early because of
a lack of jail space.”

Regulating and controlling marijuana would make it less available to
our youth, protect our public lands from illicit crops, generate new
revenue and improve public safety by allowing our law enforcement
agencies to reprioritize their efforts towardz more serious crimes.

As a member of the state Assembly, I believe we must bring innovation
and problem solving toward creating a sane public policy for
marijuana, not just stand idly by and wait for the federal government
to act. Fighting for same-sex marriage and creating Healthy San
Francisco are clear examples of how change happens. Prop. 19 is our
opportunity to reform a policy that has been a catastrophe for our state.

This spirit is what makes California great: We lead, not follow, and
I urge people to help move California forward with its policy on
marijuana before it goes up in smoke.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco

Pubdate: Sat, 18 Sep 2010

Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)