Tuesday, September 23, 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
.

US / World

California wildfire crews brace for weather shift

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
LA County sheriff’s deputies testing body cameras

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Bear suspected to have killed New Jersey hiker

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Poll: Support for gay marriage may be leveling off

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Islamic State militants kill 40 Iraqi troops

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Sierra Leone, Liberia brace for new Ebola cases

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Islamist group kidnaps Frenchman in Algeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

Pennsylvania governor confident ambush suspect will be caught

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Focus on UVa employee in student’s disappearance

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

State police: 3 missing Afghan soldiers in custody

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Prosecutor: 800 rounds found in intruder case

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Islamic State offensive poses problems for Turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Study links changing winds to warming in Pacific

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Crews work to clear debris from Shasta mudslide

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Editorial cartoon for Sept. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page:

 
Still searching for the bottom in Iraq

By John M. Crisp | From Page: , 1 Comment

Academia needs to act to protect college women

By Dan K. Thomasson | From Page:

 
Question of the week: Will the drought end this year?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Kris Jenner files to divorce Bruce Jenner

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Alaska TV reporter quits on air to promote pot

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Shonda Rhimes lays claim to Thursday nights on ABC

By Frazier Moore | From Page: | Gallery

 
Giuliani to help fight Noriega’s video game suit

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

‘The Lion King’ earns record box office

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Eric Lynch, Howard Stern’s diminutive foil, dies

By The Associated Press | From Page:

TVGrid Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Giants get closer, beat Dodgers 5-2 in 13 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Prep boys water polo: Mustangs go 3-0 in Dixon tourney

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Prep boys soccer: Mustangs hold Indians to 0-0 draw

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
MNF: Bears hold on to beat Jets 27-19

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Jeff Samardzija pitches A’s past Angels 8-4

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Nebraska’s Abdullah: Jameis Winston must grow up

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders have to settle for moral victory

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Home of 49ers lineman Ray McDonald burglarized

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

Undisciplined play sends 49ers to 1-2 start

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Kicking game: It is called football, after all

By Barry Wilner | From Page:

US Soccer stands by Solo decision

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
FIFA ethics judge hesitates on World Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Braves fire GM Frank Wren after missing playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Royals beat Indians 2-0, gain on Tigers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Bettman says NHL proactive about off-ice conduct

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Silver: NBA will review domestic violence policies

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Concern over McIlroy, McDowell more about results

By The Associated Press | From Page:

NFL vetting process: There are no sure things

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Owner: ‘No misinformation’ by Ravens on Rice

By The Associated Press | From Page:

This date in sports history for Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Kent creates scholarship for Cal women’s athletics

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Treasury to unveil steps to curb tax inversions

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Tesco suspends execs over inflated profit report

By The Associated Press | From Page:

GM expert says 21 deaths eligible for compensation

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Apple: 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sold

By The Associated Press | From Page:

US existing home sales fall in August

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Investors fret Yahoo’s future, stock dips

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Businesses and investors pressing for green policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Garfield Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Beetle Bailey Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Frank and Ernest Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
B.C. Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6