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The Campanile

California ought to legalize marijuana despite high taxes


While American legislators continue to consider themselves as leaders of a democracy, they continually deny the people their right to a fair vote.

Marijuana has had a controversial history in California. Only recently — by Proposition 215 in 1996 — was marijuana legalized in California. However, it is not fully on the terms the people wanted. As of now, marijuana is only legal for use in medical applications. Recreational marijuana, in addition to the medical marijuana, should be legalized.

Polls conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California reveal that over 60 percent of voters believe that recreational marijuana should be legalized.

Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have all legalized marijuana. If Californians think of themselves as the most forward-thinking, open-minded people, why is their state not on this list?

By making the tax on marijuana so high, legislators are actively claiming that marijuana is more dangerous or harmful than drugs or alcohol, which is incorrect to say the least.

The answer is that California’s government believes that marijuana is harmful and dangerous; many are scared of the potentially harmful outcomes of marijuana’s legalization. Yet no data supports this claim.

If alcohol and tobacco, both highly addictive and physically detrimental substances, are both legal in the United States, why is marijuana, a less abused, less dangerous, less addictive and less deadly drug not legal as well?

Tobacco and alcohol are considered the leading preventable causes of death in the U.S.. Most experts say there has never been a documented overdose of marijuana. Alcohol kills over 2,000 people a year; marijuana overdose kills none.

The ramifications of legalizing marijuana are slim. in fact, they may be beneficial. Colorado has experienced $135 million in tax benefits and thousands of new jobs from the recent legalization of marijuana, according to the New York Times.

According to the Consumer News and Business Channel, the total revenues from marijuana are forecasted to pass $22 billion by 2020.

Furthermore, the job of the local legislators is to speak for the people and to execute their dreams, not to decide whether or not legalization is what they personally want.

While legislators sit in a position of power, it is only because the people of California elected them. As they well know, if they do not support the people’s voice, they will have no chance of being reelected.

Another California law — Proposition 64 — would legalize recreational marijuana for those over the age of 21. An ounce would be taxed at $9.25 for flowers and $2.75 for leaves. There would also be a 15 percent tax on the retail price of marijuana.

The tax on marijuana is phenomenally high and completely uncalled for when compared to only a $1.01 tax on cigarettes per pack and a $0.10 per gallon tax on alcohol. These taxes are all included in a “sin tax.” By making the tax on marijuana so high, legislators are actively claiming that marijuana is more dangerous or harmful than other drugs or alcohol, which is incorrect to say the least.

However, through Proposition 64, $2 million would annually be allotted to research of marijuana, which is very important for the future relationship of California and marijuana.

Also, Proposition 64 would not allow Californians to blindly jump into the cannabis scene. Legislators would be recruiting some of the best safety and control practices from other states.

Currently, many marijuana users are finding illegal ways of obtaining the drug. Proposition 64 would eliminate much of the dangers of abuse, laced product and quality.

By regulating the consumption of marijuana, users would be given a safer, more trustworthy product than one they would have illegally obtained.

While Proposition 64 has failed on some accounts, including the high tax and regulation, it is a step in the right direction for Californians. The tax and regulations can be negotiated down once the proposition is passed.

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