Caslon9000 said"Democratic State Assembly member Tom Ammiano thinks so. Ammiano introduced legislation last month that would legalize pot and allow the state to regulate and tax its sale — a move that could mean billions for the cash-strapped state. Pot is, after all, California's biggest cash crop, responsible for $14 billion in annual sales, dwarfing the state's second largest agricultural commodity — milk and cream — which brings in $7.3 billion annually, according to the most recent USDA statistics. The state's tax collectors estimate the bill would bring in about $1.3 billion in much-needed revenue a year, offsetting some of the billions in service cuts and spending reductions outlined in the recently approved state budget."
Here's the gotcha, though:
Law enforcement, and all its allied services, is a growth industry in the United States. That's why we have nearly 2.5 times as many folks in jail as China. Those organizations making huge profits from the incarceration business have a huge vested interest in things staying the same. The folks with only a GED that work in the allied positions, or in law enforcement, have no interest in a downsizing of the law enforcement economy.
Here's an example. Telephone service for inmates can be bought at 1/2 cent to 1 cent, per minute. That same service is resold at 50 cents per minute, to the inmate. What a business, huh? A captive (literally) customer, who will pay whatever you want. Isn't that even better than on a street corner? The folks who sell that service have private jets, and lavish homes. That's criminal justice in the United States. That's why 85% to 90% of all inmates are there for non-violent, drug-related offenses. It's a GROWTH industry that will only go down kicking and fighting.
It has NOTHING to do with saving lives, and everything to do with profit, conformance, and control. If we were interested in saving lives, we'd outlaw fat people which die prematurely at the rate of 8 MILLION annually, needlessly. That's a HUGE number compared to the 3500 who dies from all illicit drugs COMBINED.
There are a huge number of interests that want things to stay the same. Bigger prisons, etc. The problem is that throwing folks in jail doesn't work. Disenfranchising those folks from society doesn't work. Of course, some folks to belong in jail, but, unfortunately, because of the absolutely insane drug laws here, the really bad guys end up with early release.
I don't smoke pot, but, the laws regarding it, in my view are ridiculous, but, do you think the growth industry of law enforcement will take it lying down? Of course not.
Here's the thing about law enforcement. Once you criminalize something, say pot, the person who is charged will say whatever he's told (the pot made me do it, etc) to save his own ass, even if it's not true, and help LE build a purely fictional case against a particular substance. Strange what folks will say under duress.
Because of the HUGE demand for pot, there's big money at stake in supplying it, and since it's illegal, there are no business rules. The folks in Mexico that run the import business in a country where homeland security is a joke have been making the news much lately. That's what prohibition has brought us. GANGS. CARTELS. Dead folks. Let's get real honest: there could be an armed guard every three feet at the border, but, as long as demand for pot is so high as to make it the country's #2 cash crop, folks will get it. PERIOD.
When do we stop putting folks in jail over pot? When the jail population hits 4 MILLION?
You'd think we would have learned with alcohol, but, just as the mob got its deep roots with prohibition, so do the Mexican cartels. How many more lives have to be ruined before folks say "this is insane?"
Pot should be decriminalized or legalized because of its high demand, and relative lack of bad effects.
Could it help California? Sure. Will it? We'll see. California, and the Left Coast are leading the way. Time will tell.