Drug Law

California Newspapers Against Legalizing Marijuana

| by Reason Foundation

By Matt Welch

I'm going to keep a running tally of my former newspaper editorial board bretheren lining up in lockstep against California's landmark legalization initiative, Prop. 19. So that you don't have to wade through all 450 words of each bad argument, I'll boil 'em down to their essentials:

Newspaper: Riverside Press-Enterprise
Sophomoric pot joke: "clouds complex policy issues in a smoky haze of uncertainty"
We-don't-necessarily-like-the-Drug-War-either-but: "Many Californians have valid questions about current marijuana policy, with respect to both resources and results. But any change in strategy should come from the federal government, which sets drug policy, and not the state."
Legal confusion is worse than criminalizing non-violent personal activity: "The measure's vague language would result in endless litigation, and put state and federal drug laws in confusing conflict."
Bonus random statism: "Prop. 19 would also put the state at risk of violating federal drug-free workplace rules, jeopardizing federal contracts with California businesses and federal funding for schools and other public services."

Newspaper: North County Times
Sophomoric pot joke: "Keep a lid on the pot"
We-don't-necessarily-like-the-Drug-War-either-but: "While there are good, reasonable arguments to be made in favor of Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana for personal use and allow counties to legalize it entirely, it strikes us that the potential harm from legalizing pot far outweighs any good it might accomplish."
Legal confusion is worse than criminalizing non-violent personal activity: "The policies in place now are reasonable and prudent."
Bonus random statism: "we support the current state policy of classifying marijuana use as a low-grade crime and of allowing its use for those whose doctors suggest it for legitimate medical reasons -- and coupling that to increased education about the risks of marijuana use, similar to public education campaigns regarding alcohol and tobacco use."

Newspaper: Contra Costa Times
Sophomoric pot joke: n/a
We-don't-necessarily-like-the-Drug-War-either-but: "Clearly prohibition against it has been a failure as was prohibition against alcohol. When there is a huge market of millions of people for a product, prohibition inevitably leads to a criminal market to fulfill the demand."
Legal confusion is worse than criminalizing non-violent personal activity: "If California should legalize marijuana, it could create a conflict with federal agencies, which could then take over enforcement of marijuana laws and reduce state and local control and flexibility in applying marijuana laws and in setting penalties."
Bonus random statism: "Prop. 19 would create a major conflict with the federal government that could result in considerable confusion and perhaps a loss of federal funding for drug treatment programs, for example."

Newspaper: Gilroy Dispatch
Sophomoric pot joke: "voters should make sure Proposition 19...goes up in smoke this November."
We-don't-necessarily-like-the-Drug-War-either-but: n/a
Legal confusion is worse than criminalizing non-violent personal activity: "The point is there's no compelling reason to legalize the drug for recreational use."
Nine decades is not enough–we need more time!: "Our society really doesn't need to legalize another drug that involves such serious debate on health issues. The questions about whether or not marijuana use leads to heavier drug use don't have to be answered definitively. That debate rages on."

Newspaper: Desert Sun
Sophomoric pot joke: "a dopey idea"
We-don't-necessarily-like-the-Drug-War-either-but: n/a
WTF: "And it can hurt your heart. 'Marijuana increases heart rate by 20 percent to 100 percent shortly after smoking.'"
Bonus random statism: "We also wonder how neighboring states would react. Would there be checkpoints at every road into Arizona, Nevada and Oregon? Would the federal government withhold funding?"

I'm currently unaware of any California newspaper editorializing in favor of allowing cities to allow their residents to put a comparatively harmless substance in their bodies without fear of potentially life-altering government sanction (please list any/all editorials in the comments). While this is all tawdry and shameful, it strengthens my irrational hope for a May 2009-style citizen revolt against one of the country's most disgraceful political classes.