Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Proposition 19 - the world is watching how California votes on drug reform next Tuesday

Next Tuesday California votes on Proposition 19 whether to allow people “21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use.” Being many thousands of miles away I wouldn’t presume to encourage Californians in either direction.
The pros and cons are outlined in this link. In any case the latest polls show support for a ‘Yes’ vote is slipping, while even if it were passed possession would remain a crime under Federal law.
Though a student at the height of the Swinging Sixties, I never got the hang of pot. Sure I inhaled – and was once ill on a hash cookie – but after maybe a dozen coughing, spluttering attempts I settled for alcohol as my recreational drug of choice.
Selfishly though I hope Proposition 19 is passed because if it works for California, it would be only a matter of time before pressure mounted for a similar move here in the UK.
However it seems too good to be true that legalising marijuana would at a stroke add a tax stream that could collect billions; save the millions spent on law enforcement; break the grip of drug gangs; and prevent many thousands of our young people collecting criminal records.
I’m yet to be convinced that any good can come from the long-term use of absorbing anything that messes with your brain.
A while ago I was in an Amsterdam coffeeshop looking at a marijuana menu – a handheld thing not one like the blackboard that illustrates this post. I had flown over for a Press reception and was wandering back to the hotel when some of my fellow reporters fancied a toke.
The owner of the coffeeshop explained to me the difference between dope that would mildly relax me and that so powerful I would need to lay down in my hotel room before I lit up. I settled for a Heineken.
I know marijuana use is widespread in the UK and most users avoid psychosis. But dope – other than for medicinal use – has properties we don’t really understand and could do unforeseen damage.
You know if you smoke tobacco regularly you are reducing your life expectancy. With alcohol, say whisky, you know one shot is nice, five or six you’re drunk, a whole bottle you’re dead.
There are no such clear-cut certainties with pot. Increasing potency has meant previously tolerant Dutch authorities are re-thinking their policy towards marijuana use.
The world will be watching the California vote on Tuesday just in case the state embraces Proposition 19 and the massive social experiment it represents.

1 comment:

  1. Pot is the opium of the 'pot heads', says Jaffa. "Peace and Love, man".


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