Cash Crops

The debate for the legalization of marijuana, for both medical and recreational use, is not a new one. In our last round of presidential campaigning it was as overplayed as the right to abortion, the right to own and carry guns and gay marriage.

Unfortunately, all we got for dinner was a big ol’ red herring — instead of hearing the facts and arguments over the legalization of marijuana, we got to hear about the war on drugs and why medical marijuana users are just potheads.

If you’re not familiar with the red herring fallacy, don’t worry. The basic premise is that instead of talking about the issue, you bring in a second, hardly connected argument to distract people from the original debate.

For example, rather than discussing a person’s right to do what they wish with their own body and how the government can benefit, a person who is against marijuana law reform might choose to bring up Mexican drug cartels or obscure statistics about the dangers of drug use.

Thankfully, there are a few level-headed people out there.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat from San Francisco, has proposed a bill to the assembly in California that calls for the legalization and taxation of marijuana in the state.

“California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana,” he said.

Ammiano estimates that if marijuana is legalized and his policy is enacted, California will be able to add $1.3 billion to its pocket book each year.

While the exact rankings vary from state to state and publication to publication, marijuana is typically considered to be at least the fourth largest cash crop in the nation and Ammiano wants his state to turn a buck off of this fact.

And why not? People will continue to spark up and no organization or program can stop this, short of total policing of the people’s lives. Millions are wasted yearly on monitoring, prosecuting and imprisoning or counseling marijuana users.

Eight states have passed initiatives for medicinal marijuana, including California, and only four states have actually enacted such laws.

So while this bill may be ahead of the curve, there’s no reason to laugh and chalk it up to those crazy liberal potheads that are smokin’ dope in San Francisco.

It’s a legitimate answer to the debate and has nothing to do with drug wars or underprivileged youth. This bill boils down to the fact that people smoke weed and money can be made.

What’s next? Agreeable gun control laws and a real right to privacy? We’ll see, but until then remember there can still be hope for sensible policies.

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