Joseph McNamara, former San Jose Police Chief, makes the case the for Prop 19 in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle:
"I've seen the prohibition's terrible impact at close range. Like an increasing number of law enforcers, I have learned that most bad things about marijuana - especially the violence made inevitable by an obscenely profitable black market - are caused by the prohibition, not by the plant...Experience and research show that the United States has among the world's harshest marijuana laws, yet our consumption rate leads the world and is twice that of the Netherlands, where cannabis sales to adults have been allowed for decades. Prohibition doesn't keep marijuana away from young people...
No one can dispute that marijuana already is widely available. At least 1 in 10 Californians consumed it in the past year, despite expensive government efforts. The November ballot's Proposition 19: The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 acknowledges this reality and enables us to manage the cannabis market. Furthermore, taxing legal cannabis sales will provide steady funding for local governments that may help avoid layoffs of police and teachers...
When we stop wasting resources on processing hundreds of thousands of low-level possession cases, we'll be able to focus on keeping impaired drivers off the road, to concentrate on violent crime and on making people feel they and their children are safe from random gang and drug-related shootings. At work, employers will retain their rights to fire employees whose drug or alcohol use affects their productivity...
That perhaps brings up the most significant and least considered cost of criminalizing marijuana - turning people into criminals for behavior of which we disapprove, even though it doesn't take others' property or endanger their safety. It is worth remembering that our last three presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, would have been stigmatized for life and never would have become presidents if they had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and been busted for pot during their reckless youthful days. Countless other Americans weren't so lucky. California voters have an opportunity in November to return reason to our state by decriminalizing adult use of marijuana."
Yes, legalization will bring some problems. They are social and health problems, not criminal problems. They are manageable. Tax the weed and put programs in place to deal with social and health issues. Save our enforcement, judicial, and penal resources for dealing with real criminals.
Let's try something new in California.
Let's treat this issue honestly and like adults.
Let's treat one another like adults who can be trusted to be responsible for our own lives, as long as we do not harm one another.
Let's pass Prop 19.
Now that is fair.