Combing through the weeds in California

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As November looms before us, marking the vote for the legalization of the selling and taxing of marijuana for recreational use in California, an inevitable mad dash to conjure support on both sides of the fence is taking place. With 694,248 signatures collected by initiative supporters in every county of California except Alpine, more and more people are offering up their opinions regarding the drug debate, and those aligning themselves on either side of the fence may  shock the public.

Data collected throughout the state has illustrated that more Californians support legalization than oppose it, but the debate is a shaky, confusing one nonetheless. Dealers and growers are often found siding with keeping the drug outlawed, while former police officers, assemblymen, and other unlikely candidates are migrating towards the supporting side of the argument.

Quite frankly, I can empathize with both sides of this diverse spectrum of people and their concerns. Dealers and growers don’t want people to simply thrust out their hands and have their high available to them from varying sources at lower prices than ever before. Growers such as 68 year old grandmother and former counselor, Kristi will be voting “no” in November, and for good reason. Her income is doubled by her marijuana sales. However, the drug’s price has severely dropped since medical marijuana became legalized, and the woman fears the price will continue to plummet. She is far from standing alone in this concern, and understandably so.

On the other hand, businessmen, former police officers, and other unlikely supporters are reveling in the idea of boosting the California tax revenue. The legalization is predicted to be boosted by 1.4 billion dollars in revenue, and a figure such as that is not going unnoticed. You need only navigate to the Oaksterdam University website to see for yourself how much this new and promising possibility of legalization is shaping California’s ability to market the idea of becoming part of the cannabis industry.

Oaksterdam, “America’s first cannabis college, was founded in 2007 to provide students with the highest quality training for the cannabis industry,” reads the website, while also boasting of its staff, a “faculty [comprised]of the most recognized names in the California cannabis legalization movement,” such as Sara Zalkin and Richard Lee.

The positive effects of the legalization would also reverberate in the overcrowded jails that are plaguing the state. Federal Bureau of Justice statistics state that 59,000 inmates found their way into already overcrowded prisons in 1992, bringing the nation’s inmate population to a resounding 833, 600 inmates. Considering the fact that marijuana-related arrests exceed the total number for violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and assault, it would not be erroneous to believe that legalizing marijuana would keep prisons from remaining overcrowded.

Amidst the heated debates and November’s fast-approaching vote, one thing is certain: For legalization to pass and thrive, it must first be stripped of its negative, dangerous, wrong-side-of-the-tracks reputation that it has donned for sometime now.

Francis L. Young, administrative judge for the DEA, reports this: “A marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much cannabis as is contained in one marijuana cigarette…would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of cannabis to induce a lethal response.”

Now if only alcohol and cigarettes, two products that have been legalized, advertised, and glamorized to the point of no return, could boast the same statistics.

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