As most of you have heard by now, the California Republican Party has officially/publicly opposed the California Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. I wanted to wait a day or two to see if there were any new, solid arguments put forth by the California GOP. But, as expected, it was just the same weak talking points that have been around for decades. I also wanted to see what the ‘official’ Democratic Party response would be, but it looks like we will have to wait until July to get that. So for now, the battle lines are just starting to get active and it’s the pro-marijuana community against the California Republican Party.
As a member of the pro-marijuana community, I have some things that I would like to say to the California GOP. Specifically, I want to address the comments that were made by Chair Ron Nehring. According to Mr. Nehring, “The last thing California needs is hundreds of thousands of more people getting high, and the costs to society that would come from widely expanded drug use." I have to ask, what costs to society is he referring to? Would it be the increased cost of health care due to lung cancer? Smoking marijuana does not cause lung cancer, so that argument is off the table. Would it be the cost of substance abuse treatment for the ‘flood of dopers’ that would be overdosing on marijuana? Considering there has NEVER been a marijuana overdose in recorded history, that argument is also void.
So what did Mr. Nehring have to offer as negative side effects to marijuana legalization? "We know a top factor behind whether young people try drugs is cost, and legalization would certainly bring the cost of dope down, making it much more widely accessible." Nehring said. This statement is total BS. Marijuana is ALREADY easily accessible to young Californians, and legalizing it under a controlled system would not increase accessibility, it would decrease it. Kids can put in a marijuana order via text message right now, and have it delivered by a classmate by lunchtime. If it were legalized and controlled, these same kids would have a much harder time getting marijuana, because all of the 'for sale' product would be sold in a controlled environment with restrictions. As it is now, the only restriction to marijuana purchases for teens in California is whether or not it is close to harvest season.
"We also know that if a person makes it to age 21 without trying drugs, they're very unlikely to ever get started down the path of drug use beginning with dope and leading to much harder drugs like meth and cocaine,” said Nehring. If a person makes it to the age of 21 without trying tobacco or alcohol, they are also much more likely to refrain from starting down ‘the path.’ Why does Mr. Nehring rant against marijuana, but is nowhere to be found when it comes to banning alcohol or tobacco? The same logic that he uses for marijuana also applies to cigs and booze, so why pick and choose which substances to apply that logic to? Because Mr. Nehring is a hypocrite, that is why!
The fact of the matter is no pro-marijuana lobbyists contribute money to California GOP endeavors. Maybe if they did, then they would get the same preferential treatment as tobacco companies. In 2007, over three dozen California State Republicans accepted campaign money from big tobacco. Mr. Nehring wants to talk about societal costs; what about the societal costs from tobacco usage in California? It is undeniable that the negative impact on California that is brought on by tobacco usage is EXTREMELY higher than even the WORST case scenario for marijuana legalization.
Maybe instead of railing against marijuana, the California GOP should focus their attention on a much more dangerous substance; alcohol. After all, it was only less than a month ago that one of their own, California Republican Senator Roy Ashburn, was cited for a DUII. With all the societal costs that are involved with drunk driving, surely the California GOP would take steps to keep drunkard Roy Ashburn from working on their behalf right? Wrong; here is an article I found from TODAY that shows him hard at work on behalf of the California GOP. If Mr. Nehring wants to talk about negative social impact from substance abuse, maybe he should deal with his own party first. But then again, the California GOP receives a lot of gifts and contributions from big alcohol, so of course he is going to keep pointing the finger somewhere else.
Nehring’s also said, “Proponents of legalizing 'and taxing' dope are trying to mask their efforts as some kind of revenue generator for state government. Whatever 'taxes' dope smokers would pay would not come even close to covering the societal costs of hundreds of thousands of more Californians getting high, the accidents and health problems they would cause, and other societal costs. California Republicans will fight this and any other measure to expand drug use in California. When it comes to this kind of legislation, there's a reason they call it 'dope.'" Do pharmaceutical drugs get people ‘high?’ Do they post accidents and health problems? Clearly the answer to both of those questions is a resounding ‘yes!’ So why don’t California Republicans fight the expansion of THAT type of drug use? Maybe it’s because the GOP gets so much money from pharmaceutical companies. Just a thought.
Before the California GOP wants to go on another public tirade, maybe they should do some homework and get some real data to back up their arguments, instead of just spreading unfounded political rhetoric. Or maybe they should pull the plank of wood out of their eye, instead of pointing to the speck of wood in the eyes of those that want to legalize marijuana (that’s right, I just went biblical). One thing that I will be anxiously waiting for is the official response from California Democrats. Will they step up and give what their constituents desire; a full public endorsement of the initiative? Or will they hide and try to duck the issue in this midterm election, hoping that it will blow over by 2012? One thing is for sure; if they do anything less than a full public endorsement, pro-marijuana voters will stick it to them in 2012.