Marijuana legalization: Did Obama's "pot cheat sheet" kill California's Proposition 19?

Categories: Marijuana, News

Why did Proposition 19, the CA pot legalization measure, fail? One reason might have been Obama administration antagonism exemplified by the memo "Marijuana legalization: A bad idea." As Colorado begins the march to a 2012 legalization measure, let's see if Obama's "pot cheat sheet" holds up to scrutiny.

Here are the main points of the memo, followed by reasoned analysis. It's worth noting that no medicine was toked during the making of this breakdown:

Marijuana is harmful and should be discouraged. Hard to argue with this point. Even disregarding all the terrible things associated with lighting up anything and sucking its embers into your lungs, marijuana use has been shown to be associated with dependence, anxiety, distorted perceptions, impaired cognitive functioning and poor driving. Then again, so has the Mountain Dew Slurpee I got at 7-Eleven this morning, and no one's talking about making that illegal.

Legalization would lower price, thereby increasing use. This seems like a fair point, too. Illegality does keep prices artificially high and likely discourages some recreational use. And here's a fact about alcohol prohibition that most people seem to forget: booze drinking did, in fact, go down when booze was banned. Still, dropping marijuana prices through legalization could also make the market less attractive to organized crime and cartels.

Tax revenue would be offset by higher social costs. Up until now, the position paper cites studies and statistics to back its claims. But with this entry, it veers off into uncharted territory. The only evidence mustered to support such a statement refers to the economic burden of alcohol abuse and tobacco -- which seems like an argument for banning those substances, not continuing to ban another substance.

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