Dueling Sides on Prop 19 Trot Out Research

As California voters weigh whether to support legalization of marijuana on the November ballot, forces for and against Prop 19 are stepping up the studies, statistics and rhetoric aimed at propping up their respective sides.

For instance, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the nation's leading substance abuse prevention organization representing over 5,000 community anti-drug coalitions across the country, strongly opposes Prop 19.

Dig in.
Dig in.
Photo illustration by Jorge Negreros

Photo illustration by Jorge Negreros
Dig in.

Well, wouldn't you know that just weeks before the voter initiative's fate will be decided by voters, CADCA is releasing research that supports its opposing view to the initiative?

"After years of decline," CADCA cautions, "marijuana use among adolescents has been slowly climbing up again because fewer kids see it as harmful and more view it as socially acceptable." That makes this the absolute worst time to legalize the devil's weed in Cali, sayeth the buzzkillers.

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"Not only does it send the wrong message to youth, it puts the public safety, health and academic achievement of California's kids at risk," crows CADCA. ". . . Since research shows a direct link between a decrease in perception of harm and social disapproval and an increase in drug use, there is no doubt that Proposition 19 will only lead to more marijuana use among youth."

Retired Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA's chairman and CEO, also chimes in.

"With national data already showing softening attitudes and across the board increases for drug use--particularly marijuana, which increased in all grades according to a recent survey--this is not a message we can afford to send to California or the rest of America's youth. Marijuana already costs the United States $181 billion annually in increased health care and treatment costs, crime and lost productivity. So any revenue gained by taxing marijuana would be far outweighed by the healthcare and criminal justice costs to the state."

His group also claims pot proponents are ignoring "scientific evidence" that proves marijuana is harmful to the brain development of young people, affecting their motivation, memory, learning, judgment, behavior control, ability to succeed academically, ability to stay out of gangs, ability to stay out of a fatal motor vehicle crash and natural resistance to Pink Floyd, black light posters and midnight Del Taco runs.

OK, that last one was made up. Hell, they all may have been made up, so let's say the last one was made up by me. The makers of Prop 19, which is also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, aim to make it legal for Californians over 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use; allow the use of marijuana in non-public places, such as a residence, or at public establishments licensed for on site marijuana consumption; and allow individuals to grow marijuana for personal use.

Backers point to other data to justify Prop 19 passage.
Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) say the FBI's recently released Uniform Crime Report show pot busts accounted for more than half of all U.S. drug arrests in 2009, while the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows 16.7 million Americans used cannabis within the past month--and increase of 8 percent.

"It's now more obvious than ever that decades of law enforcement efforts have absolutely failed to reduce marijuana's use of availability, and that it's simply an exercise in futility to continue arresting hundreds of thousands of Americans for using something that's safer than alcohol," says Rob Kampia, MPP's executive director.

Kampia continues, "Rather than criminalize millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens and waste billions of dollars that could be better spent combating violent crime and other real threats to public safety, it's time we embrace sensible marijuana policies that would regulate marijuana the same way we do alcohol and tobacco."

His 124,000-member strong organization also has something to say about some of Prop 19's opposition, noting that California beer and beverage distributors have formed a coalition with the state's police chiefs and narcotics officers associations to defeat marijuana legalization. They have already poured tens of thousands of dollars into the anti-Prop 19 campaign.

All they need now is for Mexican drug cartels to join them and the holy alliance will be complete.

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