Politics

Why Prop 19 is "Most Important Issue on Election Day"

| by Reason Foundation

Writing in The Huffington Post, Reason.tv Editor Nick Gillespie and Reason Editor Matt Welch make the case that Prop. 19 is "the single-most important issue that will be decided on November 2." Excerpt:

 

If Prop. 19 passes, it will force, at long bloody last, an honest reconsideration of failed prohibitionist policies throughout the United States. In fact, given the drug war's influence on our foreign policy in Latin America and central Asia, Prop. 19's reverberations would even be felt far outside our borders. [...]

The $50 billion in direct costs of drug prohibition at all levels of government doesn't begin to capture the costs in social disruption, crime from black markets, foregone tax revenue, and more. The 858,000 marijuana-related arrests made each year -- many involving minors, non-violent offenders, and those possessing insignificant amounts -- accounts for more than half of all drug-related arrests and takes a huge toll on the criminal justice system and lower-income communities at every level. No one seriously questions that the drug war disproportionately impacts minorities and that most "drug-related" crime is in fact a result of the black market status of drugs. Mexican drug gangs may be violent but there is no reason to believe that Mexican marijuana merchants would be any more violent than Mexican mango merchants. [...]

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And because the young voters most passionate about legalization skew heavily Democratic (despite professional Democrats being reliably awful on the issue -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein leads the No-on-19 campaign), it is conceivable that Jerry Brown will be re-elected California governor because of the turnout Prop. 19 generates. That lesson will be on the minds not only of Democrats desperate to gin up any enthusiasm, but also pro-legalization Republicans eyeing the 2012 nomination, including Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. [...]

It may start in California, but the legalization of marijuana will also mean that schoolkids in Oklahoma won't have to pee in a bottle in order to be on quiz bowl teams and online vendors of bongs won't be prosecuted in Western Pennsylvania and medical marijuana patients in Florida will be able to concentrate on their cancer rather than their legal defense. It means covert farmers in Kentucky and Texas and Washington who generate billions of dollars worth of crops will fully enter the economy. It means that federal and state prisons all over the country will have room for violent prisoners. It means that cops will be deprived of their favorite means for shaking down "suspicious" low-income minorities, and it means that all Americans, even those who never use marijuana, will be more free.

Read the whole thing–and leave comments!–here.