Thursday, December 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Is the legalization of marijuana inevitable?

First, 20 states and the District of Columbia passed laws legalizing marijuana for medical use. Then in 2012, voters in Washington state and Colorado approved measures legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana for non-medical use, with state oversight. Now at least a half-dozen states from Alaska to Maine are considering following suit.

Marijuana still remains a federally controlled substance, but Attorney General Eric Holder in January said the U.S. Justice Department would soon issue regulations to let state-sanctioned marijuana businesses have access to banking and credit.

Can full legalization be far behind? Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis, the Red-Blue America columnists, try to wrap their heads around the question.

Ben Boychuk

The University of Colorado system reports a 30 percent increase in applications this year. University officials credit their new and improved application, along with better high school outreach.

But High Times magazine, a sort of Cigar Aficionado for stoners, has a different explanation: It’s the legal pot.

Can that really be true? A CU spokesman told the magazine he has “hard time believing that someone is going to make that kind of significant decision about investing in their education based on whether they can smoke marijuana in the state” – which only suggests he hasn’t visited his Boulder campus recently, or knows very much about the law of unintended consequences.

More kids looking for a cheap and legal high are one such consequence. Here’s another: if you smoke pot and want to buy a gun in the Mile High State, odds are you will be turned down. Sure, marijuana use is legal under state law; but the federal government still considers it a crime, and no federally licensed firearms dealer would risk his business to make a point about states’ rights.

Fact is, Congress isn’t about to legalize pot, and Eric Holder won’t be attorney general forever. More states venturing down the path of legalization invites conflicts with the feds that nobody can foresee.

But the better argument against legalization is cultural, and it comes from an unlikely source: California Gov. Jerry Brown.

A Democrat with a reputation for wild ideas, Brown shared his skepticism about legalization on “Meet the Press” this month. “If there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together.”

Brown is right. It may be the case that public opinion has shifted too far in favor of legalization. If so, then freedom must come with responsibility. Tax marijuana, certainly, but also let employers decide whether they want stoners on their payrolls, lay heavy penalties on sales to minors – and hope the unintended consequences aren’t too dire.

Joel Mathis

Consider the following facts, courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union:

“Every 0.01 hours someone in the United States is arrested for having marijuana; Black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested than white people. The United States spent $3,610,000,000 enforcing marijuana laws in 2010.”

Worth it? Almost certainly not.

Why? Marijuana may be illegal, but it’s also pretty mainstream: A 2013 Gallup poll suggests that 38 percent of Americans have tried marijuana, a number that has little changed since the “Just Say No” reefer madness of the 1980s. And while Ronald Reagan had to withdraw a Supreme Court appointee who admitted smoking pot more than a decade earlier, these days there’s hardly anybody at the forefront of public life who won’t admit having dabbled with doobies in their youth. The republic survives.

There are concerns that legalized pot would somehow rob America of its vigor: “How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?” California Gov. Jerry Brown asks. Brown’s rationale is almost exactly the same as was used for the failed prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. We never learn.

“I remember in 1977 when Gov. Brown was first in office, we went from indeterminate sentencing to determinate sentencing – we had 20,000 people in our prisons. In 2007, we had 173,000 people in our prisons,” California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom pointed out recently. You start looking at the war on drugs, you look at the corollaries as it relates to mandatory minimums and our aggressive efforts . . . to incarcerate our way to solving this problem, it’s failed. A trillion dollars wasted.”

Criminalizing weed makes hypocrites out of otherwise law-abiding Americans, reduces respect for the law, and saddles our nation with the expense of prosecution and prison for folks who pose very little threat to society. Thank goodness for the legalization movement.

Ben Boychuk (bboychuk@city-journal.org) is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Joel Mathis (joelmmathis@gmail.com) is associate editor for Philadelphia Magazine. Website: www.facebook.com/benandjoel. They wrote this for McClatchy-Tribune.

Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rich GiddensMarch 21, 2014 - 9:26 am

    The government of traitors looks stupid enforcing unenforcable laws. Prohibition only fuels people's hatred of the government of TRAITORS.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Solano College trustees move back ‘home’

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Needs of small dog give Solano man life’s mission

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

     
    Christmas comes early for prenatal program participants

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Police chief: Suisun crime up 3 percent in 2014

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

     
    Council OKs $65,730 pact to advocate for Travis base

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

    Fairfield pays $42,500 to settle soil suit

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

     
    Jury convicts teen for role in 2012 DeBartolo’s heist

    By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

     
     
    Fairfield police log: Dec. 15, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Suisun City police log: Dec. 16, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    Suisun City police log: Dec. 15, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Fairfield police log: Dec. 16, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    .

    US / World

     
    Fears fanned by hackers bring down Sony film

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Like Iran, secret diplomacy leads to US-Cuba thaw

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Pope played crucial role in US-Cuba rapprochement

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy and travel firms

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Cubans cheer historic renewal of US relations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

     
    Freed American endured years of declining health

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Bay Bridge light sculpture to keep on shining

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Study: Huge wildfire supports need for controlled burns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    A fresh setback for efforts to cure HIV infection

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Nigerian court sentences 54 soldiers to death

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Colombian rebels announce unilateral cease-fire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Russians flock to stores to pre-empt price rises

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

     
    Pakistan buries victims of school massacre

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    .

    Opinion

    Asia needs to prepare for a possible China crash

    By William Pesek | From Page: A7

     
    Tortured roots of enhanced interrogations

    By Walter Pincus | From Page: A7

    Editorial Cartoons: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crime Witness Protocol 101

    By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Dec. 18, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    My siblings don’t want to replace abusive mother’s pacemaker

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    25 movies chosen for the National Film Registry

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    Saving Private Ryan’ among films being preserved

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    .

    Sports

    Falcons cruise by crushers in girls basketball

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    49ers release McDonald amid further legal trouble

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Carr faces another tough test in rookie season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    For MLB, changes in Cuba will take time to sort out

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Garcia resigns as FIFA prosecutor

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Chattanooga women stun No. 7 Stanford 54-46

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Track coach Drummond gets 8-year doping suspension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Warriors’ Bogut out with knee injury vs. Thunder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    AP source: Romo close to $15M, 2-year deal with Giants

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Baseball monitoring White House Cuba decision

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    APNewsBreak: Judge rejects NCAA concussions deal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Painkillers lawsuit against NFL dismissed; may be appealed

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    .

    Business

    McDonald’s in Japan limits orders of fries

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Amid scrutiny, Uber says it will focus more on safety

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    Health care exchange sign-ups exceeding last year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Fed to be ‘patient’ about a rate hike; stocks soar

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    .

    Obituaries

    Jennie Ponce Reyes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Marian L. “Chicki” Downs

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9