Vote yes on Proposition 64

Staff, [email protected]

In a few weeks, Californians will have the choice to either join Colorado, Washington and Washington D.C. and legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana, or prolong the decades-long prohibition that has seen the imprisonment of millions of Americans.
In the ‘90s, California flirted toward decriminalization, with critics arguing it would lead to doubled crime rates and a surge in heroin addiction. Those things did not come to pass. This fall, critics are again spouting spurious claims about legalization, from increases in usage and impaired driving to more violent crime, despite evidence from our Rocky Mountain neighbors that the only thing that will increase is state tax revenue.
Most people have heard the tale behind prohibition, the confluence of anti-black racism, anti-immigration fervor and Big Paper combined to create a propaganda campaign to demonize the drug. The relatively harmless plant was branded as something that forces users to rape and make “devilish jazz music,” as Federal Bureau of Narcotics head Harry Anslinger said. That hippies took up legalization as a pet project in the ‘60s probably didn’t help its cause, but 50 years later, Californians have the chance to right a wrong that has ruined far too many lives and cost taxpayers far too much money that could have gone to schools, highways and social programs instead of distracting police with costly enforcement.
Also important is the medical component of legalization. Due to its illegality, it has been difficult to complete proper research on the drug despite the fact it has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of a number of diseases and ailments. Though marijuana will still be illegal on the federal level, having the country’s most populous state legalize it will be an enormous step in the right direction, as we saw with same-sex marriage.
Though the use of any drug — from Tylenol to alcohol — comes with problems, we have seen through the War on Drugs that criminalization is not the answer to those problems. The zeitgeist is slowly changing, but the important thing is that it is changing. A ‘yes’ vote on Proposition 64 will be a historical victory against the War on Drugs.