Prop 19 lights up new ideas

With the cannabis conversation growing louder in California thanks largely to Proposition 19, there is one fact in particular can be recited verbatim: Under federal law, it is currently illegal to possess, use, buy, sell or cultivate marijuana.

In the last 20 years, however, many states have legalized the medical use of marijuana, citing several health benefits. It has been used as a progressive treatment for patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS and even multiple sclerosis.

Although the federal government does not recognize marijuana as holding any medical benefits, many states have shown through law that they believe cannabis has a practical medicinal application.

Alice Li | Daily Trojan

In 1979, Virginia created a precedent by passing a law that allowed marijuana prescriptions for patients with cancer or glaucoma.

According to CNN, 14 other states have since followed suit. The federal government has always been fundamentally opposed to the legalization of marijuana, however, whether for medical or recreational purposes.

The Obama administration has taken essentially the same stance as previous administrations, the key difference being that it has refused to raid dispensaries throughout the country and are allowing individual states to continue to use the drug as a treatment.

But politics aside, it appears that public opinion about marijuana is shifting. Polls show that many Americans believe marijuana is an inherently harmless drug. A January 2010 poll conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post showed that 81 percent of Americans believe that medical marijuana should be legalized.

A 2009 National Survey on Drug Use showed that marijuana usage increased in all but two age groups — 45 to 49 year olds and those over 65 — in just one year. If marijuana held the addictive power that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration asserts, then where are the millions “addicted” to cannabis?

Cigarettes, unlike marijuana, have never been proven to hold any medicinal benefits. In fact, nicotine is one the most addictive forces known to modern science, and smoking cigarettes has been shown to greatly increase the likelihood of developing any of multiple forms of cancer.

Yet cigarettes remain legal, and are sold in almost every convenience store or gas station in the United States. Hypocrisy, thy name is the U.S. government.

Along with health benefits, the economic benefits of the legalization of marijuana would bolster both the California and national economies.  or so say advocates of Proposition 19, the proposition originated by activist Richard Lee that proposes the full legalization of the sale of marijuana to adults over the age of 21.

It would tax and regulate marijuana in the same manner as alcohol, meaning that laws about driving under the influence and public intoxication would remain in place, theoretically preventing the “mind-altering” effects of marijuana that lead to accidents and fatalities.

Marijuana is one of California’s highest-yielding cash crops and has created a $14-billion industry even while illegal. The revenue created by legalization — estimated to be another $1.4 billion — would immensely benefit the state’s tanking economy. It would also allow for more open research about the substance.

Although a full federal and nation legalization of cannabis is probably far-fetched, the country seems to be shifting toward a more liberal view of the substance itself.

More and more states are legalizing marijuana for medical use, and some states are researching the potential economic benefits of a full legalization. It is a controversial issue that requires deep research into both sides of the story.

However, the writing is already on the wall. Attitudes are changing, and the benefits  of marijuana are coming to light. The passage of Proposition 19 could definitively alter the future of California’s economy and budget crisis — it is one step of many to get the state back on the right track.

The taboo about marijuana is shifting with the times. The more we talk about it, the more moderated use of it becomes socially acceptable. We can now hope that legal acceptance will follow as well.

Cyrus Behzadi is a freshman majoring in communication.

14 replies
  1. Joe
    Joe says:

    I love the fact that USC students can’t get excited about fighting against the spending that will force them to be indentured tax slaves for the rest of their adult lives, don’t care about the million and a half younger brothers and sisters of their generation that will be killed in the womb this and every year, don’t think the rule of law or the preservation of economic liberty is worth getting out of bed for…. but BOY are they excited about voting for prop 19!

  2. Christian
    Christian says:

    Jesus said, Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. (Matthew 7:12).

    I know I would not want my child sent to jail with the sexual predators, or my aging parents to have their house confiscated and sold by the police, over a little marijuana.

    We can change the world when we vote.

  3. Valeska
    Valeska says:

    Prohibition is just a gift to mobs and narcos. Hemp (we should stop using this BS “marijuana” word as well) is not harmless but it is indeed less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, and yes it has various medical uses.
    YES to proposition 19

  4. Christopher Ganiere
    Christopher Ganiere says:

    Once the law passes and the future taxes, will the cities and counties block the federal government’s demand to get tax rolls, so they can waltz in and make an easy arrest? What will the California juries do? Will they declare the federal laws unconstitutional and acquit? We can fight the federal power. We can empty our prisons of non-violent offenders. Less prisoners = closer to balanced budget

    One governor candidate is voting yes on 19 – Dale Ogden

  5. Logical
    Logical says:

    If you want Prop 19 to pass, you have to vote. Otherwise its a guaranteed failure. Elderly people vote like its their only purpose in life and they are against it 2:1.

    So, are you going to let them make the decision for you? Or, are you going to get out there and let your voice be heard?


    If everyone who has the right to vote in California shows up, it will certainly pass. If you don’t show up, IT WILL CERTAINLY FAIL!!!

    So, in short, if you don’t show up and vote YES, your silence means another vote for NO!

  6. Larry the Hobbit
    Larry the Hobbit says:

    Hey man,
    I totally agree with your Mental Mojo. The weed should totally be legalized. The longer it is illegal, the more youths that experiment with Mary Jane will have to worry about losing federal scholarships or being criminalized by the prison system. I know a lot of Frat bros and athletes that love the sweet, sweet green, and they shouldn’t have to worry about federal prosecution. Those guys do community service stuff all the time, and they don’t want to hurt anyone, they just need a little something to relax after some mental workouts, you know. The fact that the government could raid frat row and bust everyone, is really scary and not something that students should have to worry about. They have tests, extra curricular activities and relationship problems that already burden their brains.

    On top of all that, it is kind of ludichris that we waste all this money on cops fighting weed. I was watching this TV show, with Steven Segal as a Lawman, and it hit me how nuts the whole thing is. We pay these cops thousands of dollars to stop some poor toothless dude from getting his groove on with 2 small bags of weed. Who cares? We waste money on jail time, on cop cars, gas, cop hours, prosecution, their food and phone calls, etc. How much money would we save as a state if we just let the home boy get his smoke on? Spend that money on education, on healthcare, fixing hospitals, real stuff that helps us.

    I don’t mean to bum your vibe, but I’m not sure 19 will pass. Not because it’s a faulty law, but because too many people make money on it being illegal. The cops, the prison guards, the gangsters, the military industrial complex, even politicians profit from the drug war. All these people want things to stay the same so they can keep earning their green. But who knows, maybe Obama is right, and all the voters can be the change on election day. We’ll see what happens when all the smoke blows away.

  7. Chris
    Chris says:

    Very good article, Mr.Behzadi. The fact that Prop 19 even made it on the ballot is very encouraging. I am for full legalization. Decriminalization isn’t enough. People–myself included–will continue to use marijuana over alcohol. It is harmless when compared to alcohol or tobacco. The opponents constantly say that legalizing it would make it easier for teenagers to access it. The ones that want it–they already get it. As far as rich people getting richer, that will always happen. It happens with tobacco, alcohol, real estate–anything capable of making a profit. This is about the individual right for a person to decide what he or she puts into their own body, without fear of having their doors kicked in and their families ripped apart, or using a possibly contaminated product that stems from the drug cartels. Prohibition of alcohol led to violence of every kind, and the same goes for marijuana.
    Punish someone for committing a ‘real’ crime.

    Bob, Prop 19 is an opportunity…a huge chance for this country to wake up the politicians and for them to take us seriously. I don’t want to see a single person in jail over the plant. Too many people need marijuana; and not just the physically ill, but the mentally ill as well. Personally, I’m tired of alcohol being the accepted celebratory tool used in this country for good occasions. I’m a hell of a lot happier about things when I smoke a good joint.

  8. Native Son
    Native Son says:

    The comparison to alcohol is spot on but the point was missed. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol but people do. I doubt if the judgement of of marijuana users is any better than people who drink. The age limitation will not be a factor because pot is already available to all ages. There are far too many dead teenage drivers already. Easily available marijuana will probably not improve their survival rate. By some estimates California is already a net exporter of marijuana, I doubt if the current growers will suddenly give up their lucrative trade and all those in the distribution line will still have criminal enterprises.

  9. Dean
    Dean says:

    @bob: “Also, as of Oct 1, 2010, possessing an ounce of pot in California has ALREADY been decriminalized (no criminal charges, record or court). So who needs 19 anyway ? Other than big companies”

    Are you forgetting that cannabis (the proper name) is still illegal to cultivate? The stupid law Arnold S signed only INCREASES the strength of the black market for cannabis… strengthens cartels and gangs. You need to think a little deeper.

    And why rehash (pun intended) crap like passing prop19 is somehow evil because rich people crafted the legislation? With prop19 in place, people can and will grow their own which is a real relief for good people and a blow to the black market. It is so simple I wonder what you are smoking, Bob. And why should people continue to pay $200/ounce for Mexican swag weed and double that for high-grade US grown? Last I checked, a packet of 5 seeds bought online is around $40. You could grow many ounces for < $100. And also be sure that it has no pesticides or lead powder added. I don't trust thugs, not that I use cannabis or anything (I don't anymore).

  10. Bryan
    Bryan says:

    Finally an article that wasn’t forged and repeated a hundred thousand times. Good job.

    The times they are a changing

  11. Bob
    Bob says:

    What the article didn’t mention is: that Proposition 19 is a scam designed by a couple of rich businessmen in Oakland to make themselves more rich. Now people are starting to figure that out, which is why support is falling. It isn’t even a real ‘people’s initiative’, but a sad example of how money can be used to buy legislation.

    Personally, I favor legalization. But when you look at the dark underside of Proposition 19, you’ll see that it is not only bad for the state’s economy but also for individual marijuana users.

    An excellent website that explains what’s wrong with Prop 19 and where it came from is
    They’re a group of pot users and even they don’t want 19.

    Also, as of Oct 1, 2010, possessing an ounce of pot in California has ALREADY been decriminalized (no criminal charges, record or court). So who needs 19 anyway ? Other than big companies.

    As of 1/1, you can wave an ounce in front of police and at worst they might give you a ticket.

    • echo134
      echo134 says:

      article didn’t mention prop19 was a scam. if there trying to pull a scam CALL THE COPS (have you every heard of felony knowleague) if you know a crime is being committed (in this case a fed. crime) and you say nothing,your ass is in a sling. what does the dark underside of prop19 look like? give me some details(i for got you don’t have ANY) how is it bad for the state’s economy, give me some details(i forgot you don’t have ANY) how is it going to be bad for the individual MJ users,give me some details (i forgot you don’t have ANY) what’s wrong with prop19, give me some details (i forgot you don’t have ANY) where did prop19 (as you put it) ”come from” ,give me some details(i forgot you don’t have ANY) if you ”favor legalization” why did you post this reply,give me some details(i forgot you don’t have ANY) if you know a ”group of pot users” CALL THE COPS,because it is a fed.crime to smoke MJ and because your not reporting it,your ass is on the line. and why don’t these ”pot users” want prop19,give me some details(i for got you don’t have ANY) AND THE REST OF YOUR REPLY IS B/S

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