California is being billed as the legalization swing state because they're saying if California goes so does the rest of the country. But is legalization really in the best interest of the state? Sure California has one of the biggest economies in the country, but with all those people California runs the risk of taking the current problems of legal states and amplifying them. So as November approaches Californians will need some questions answered.
Will legalization reduce youth use? The easy answer for that is no. The complicated answer is just that, complicated. There are so many factors in answering that question. With legalization comes expanded access to the drug with home grows and oversaturation of marijuana dispensaries. Now that marijuana is legal parents
and older siblings don't have to hide their stash anymore and are leaving it out just as they would their cigarettes and kids are getting a hold of it. Colorado also currently leads the nation in past month marijuana use among kids 12-17 years old according to the last SAMHSA survey released last fall, with Oregon and Washington also in the top 6. Marijuana proponents are sticking to the claim "A licensed dispensary will ask for ID. The black market dealers don't". Well according to the last survey from Oregon (Pictured left), 4% of 11th graders that took the survey said that they walked into a dispensary and purchased marijuana. Then there is the page from the alcohol play book in which 17% of Oregon 11th graders gave money to someone so they could buy it for them.
Those that support legalization will say "But 100% of drug dealers won't ask for ID. Prohibition only forces them to shady black market deals" But if you look at the figure above you will notice that 96% got their marijuana through black market deals and "Bought from a shady guy in an ally out of his trunk" is not on there. The bottom line is that you can regulate marijuana until you are blue in the face, as long as there is easy access to the drug kids will get it. I know the naysayers will stick to the legalization doesn't add access, but how could adding 300-400 dispensaries (390 in Denver and 360 planned for Portland) to a city not add access?
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Marijuana related DUII and traffic fatalities been on the rise in Colorado, really since they legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. In 2014 - when recreational dispensaries opened - 77% of all DUII had marijuana in their system and 41% had marijuana only according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensify Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) report that was released last September. That same report also shows a rise in traffic fatalities where the driver tested positive for THC from 2006 to 2014 (Shown below).
Oregon and Washington are also seeing an uptick in marijuana impaired driving and traffic fatalities. A recently released study by AAA shows that the number of drivers testing positive for THC in fatal car crashes doubled from 2013-2014. South of Washington, Oregon State Police are reporting that marijuana related DUII went up 163% in the first six months after their law went into effect. Five days after the early sales of recreational marijuana started in Oregon a stoned driver hit and killed a young woman while she was crossing the street. But all of the Legalizers insisted that it wasn't the mind altering drug that was too blame. In a sense they are right, it is the fault of the individual who chose to drive high. But with the drug on board it is not a contributing factor since he was intoxicated.
Have people been driving high before legalization? Of course they have. It will only get worse with the expanded access to the drug and the lowered perception of harm. In order to sell marijuana legalization to the voters the Legalizers they must get them to believe that marijuana is harmless and they do that by comparing it to alcohol. California will see a lot of play on that comparison in the coming months and they must realize that the two substances are not comparable as they affect the body in different ways. Plus saying one dangerous substance is worse than another is just ludicrous. The "Stoners are safer drivers because they wait for the stop sign to turn green" lines aren't working anymore because the stats are coming out against them. The more marijuana is normalized the quicker it will rival alcohol in traffic fatalities.
THE STATE WILL MAKE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TAX REVENUE
Looking at Colorado alone will disprove that. When you look past the doctored stats from the Legalizers you will find that Colorado isn't really isn't making that much at all in actual tax revenue. They all reported that the state made $135 Million off of Recreational Marijuana in 2015, but when you pull up the data from the state it tells a very different story. The actual tax revenue from recreational marijuana was only $21.39 Million. The rest was sales tax and medical marijuana taxes and fees which all go into the general fund. And we all know that money that goes into the general fund disappears into the abyss of the unknown and most likely into the politicians pockets.
Oregon is also showing insignificant numbers in the tax area since they have only pulled in about $25 million as of July. The layman would look at those numbers and think that it was a lot of money. For your budget and mine, $20 million dollars is a lot of money. But when it comes to your states budget it is a drop in the bucket. Tens on millions is nothing compared to the tens of Billions it takes to run a state. Last I checked the Colorado operating budget was right around $30 Billion. That would make the $112 million or so that Recreational pulled in with taxes and fees about 0.00038% of the states operating budget. To put that into perspective, that would be like you asking me to loan you $100 for a bill you were late on and me giving you a penny and asking for change back.
Some people argue that the sales tax alone is helping because that is revenue they didn't have before, but is it really? Are people really spending more when it comes to marijuana or is it that they aren't buying other things to have money for their drug? I would be interested in seeing n impact study to see if Colorado is indeed making more sales tax off of recreational marijuana. There has been data that shows retail marijuana shops in Denver are highly populated in low income neighborhoods. That also goes to support the question "Are people really spending more when it comes to marijuana or is it that they aren't buying other things to have money for their drug".
LEGALIZING MARIJUANA WILL ELIMINATE THE BLACK MARKET
All of the successful legalization campaigns so far have toted that legalization will eliminate the black market and take money away from he drug cartels. It has been 4 years since Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use and two years since the retail market opened and there are almost daily busts of illegal grow sites and some have been tied to drug cartels. Pueblo Colorado is a hotbed for illegal grow operations and seems to be the epicenter in Colorado. Four illegal grow operations in Pueblo have been been tied to Mexican drug cartels and there have been a few other grow operations tied to Cuban cartels. It's only a matter of time before they realize that they can get into the legal market which would make it harder to detect.
Oregon and Washington have also had their share of illegal grows in the recent past. Yamhill County Sheriffs Deputies busted up an illegal grow in Dayton Oregon, which is about an hour outside of Portland, that has 6500 marijuana plants. An illegal grow which was also tied to a Mexican Drug cartel.
The only way to truly eliminate the black market and kill the business of the drug cartels is to get a science based education curriculum in to schools and stop drug abuse before it starts. No more of the "This is your brain on drugs" scare tactics of the 80's. We need to show them with evidence based science why these drugs are bad for them. Legalizing is only another tool for enabling drug use.
The above is just a few examples of the lies that will be coming to California this election cycle and it is up to the California voters to wade through the junk and get to the truth. I can tell you right now that the truth will not be coming from the Proponents campaign because they have to bury the truth to get your votes. They will push doctored and flat out false stats to try and get your vote. They will tell you things like 80% of California's prison population is in prison for simple possession. The truth is that a very small percentage of the people in jail are there for possession alone. Possession of marijuana in just about every state is a low level misdemeanor or not even a crime at all. Arresting someone for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana isn't even worth the time to do the paperwork for Police Officers.
They want you to legalize marijuana so they can regulate it like alcohol. On average each state spends $10 dollars for every $1 they bring in with alcohol tax revenue. Does that sound like regulation you want in California? Do you really want to legalize another addiction for profit industry? And yes Marijuana does have some addictive properties. According to the latest numbers 1 in 11 adults (9%) and 1 in 6 kids (16%) will become addicted to marijuana. The thing is that these numbers were determined 20 years ago with much weaker potency marijuana. In mid 90's marijuana in the leaf form was testing right around 5 % compared to the average 12% today. Now you add edibles and dabbing which are more popular than the tradition joint or bong and you are looking at potency of up to 95% THC. How high do you think the addiction rates would be if they were adjusted for the higher potency marijuana?
One last lie that you will probably hear during the campaign is that "You must legalize it to allow for research to be done". That is a big Fat LIE right there. Research has been going on with marijuana for years. We have three FDA approved THC based medications on the market and are looking at possibly the First CBD based medication here in the next year or so. The legality, nor the schedule status, of the drug has no bearing on the ability to do research on it. Research is being done and it is still illegal federally and still a Schedule I drug.