Opinion

Commentary: California's marijuana legalization advocates are in denial

Medical grade marijuana at The Green Cross dispensary in San Francisco.
Medical grade marijuana at The Green Cross dispensary in San Francisco. San Jose Mercury News/MCT

I'm willing to admit that I might be wrong to oppose Proposition 19, the November ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The latest Field Poll shows Prop. 19 is leading despite "prohibitionists" like me. What do I know?

Prop. 19 supporters hail from varied backgrounds, yet I've too often tarred them as "potheads" and "stoners."

Moreover, there are aspects of pot enforcement that are disturbing or distorted by politics.

The numbers show that African American kids get arrested for pot possession more than white kids — though they don't use more weed.

My ancestral homeland of Mexico is being ravaged by drug violence.

Past Mexican presidents, such as Vicente Fox, have called for legalization of all drugs — including cocaine and heroin — to fight drug lords.

Marijuana is labeled a "gateway" drug that leads to stronger drugs. But before I quit smoking it, pot was a gateway only to varied products containing the words "nacho cheese."

Beyond campaigns urging us to "just say no" and the billions in federal dollars spent enforcing anti-marijuana laws, there's the depressing reality that enforcement efforts soaked in blood are nothing compared to the powerful draw of weed.

I know people who are smart, successful — and seemingly hooked on marijuana. These white-collar types would be horrified if you called them addicts.

OK. But answer this question: If you had to stop smoking marijuana forever, could you?

My guess is that many couldn't quit if they tried.

Herein lies the problem with Prop. 19 — it's built on fantasy and untruths.

Pot advocates condemn alcohol addiction but are in complete denial about marijuana addiction.

They say California will make tons of tax money on Prop. 19, when there is nothing in the law to spell out how to tax a plant grown anywhere.

They claim Prop. 19 will strike a blow against Mexican drug kingpins, when marijuana will still be illegal in 49 American states and most countries throughout the world. How does that put them out of business?

As for addressing the disparity in the prosecution of blacks and whites who are arrested for marijuana possession, let's reform the real problem — police practices and sentencing guidelines.

I know people who were pro-Prop. 19 until a medical marijuana dispensary opened up next door and bad behavior followed.

You point these truths out to pot people and what do they do? They call you names, say alcohol is bad, too, and they invoke Mexican drug lord and tax windfall arguments.

OK, no more name calling from me. But you can't prove me wrong — or win my vote — with fantasies.

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