|Marijuana Issues Raised in
Pubdate: Tue, 12 Oct 2004 Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Voters in Oakland will soon decide how they want the city to treat marijuana.
Dale Gieringer, the California coordinator for NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and a hills resident, says Oakland should give marijuana use the lowest law enforcement priority.
"It's more economical and would do more to control crime," said Gieringer, who lives in the Panoramic neighborhood near Claremont Canyon.
Voters citywide can vote for or against this view on Nov. 2. Ballot Measure Z calls for Oakland -- which now permits some use of medicinal marijuana -- to treat recreational cannabis use with leniency. The measure also calls for Oakland to lobby the state to legalize marijuana use ( by adults in private places only ), to allow for marijuana to be sold in licensed stores, and for taxes to be collected on these sales.
Supporters such as Gieringer say the proposed law should reduce crime and save money. Opponents, though, say it would do just the opposite. Drug policy experts remain divided on the issue.
If passed, the law calls for the Oakland police to treat the enforcement of marijuana laws as the department's lowest priority. It also asks the City Council to lobby the state to legalize the private use of marijuana for adults 21 and over and to legalize the sale of marijuana at licensed outlets.
Supporters say that this will cut down on how much time police spend busting marijuana dealers and users -- and give the police more taxpayer-funded resources for other law enforcement priorities.
Oakland police made about 600 arrests this year through August on marijuana-related crimes, according to the police department.
"It will redirect efforts to stop violent crime," said Joe DeVries, a representative for the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance, who helped draft the proposal and debated the measure on Thursday at City Hall.
The measure may also save the taxpayers money in the future, DeVries said, since it could reduce the number of non-violent criminals in prison. Eventually, it may also help end the cycle of poverty and despair for those non-violent convicts who are in and out of jail, DeVries said.
But critics say taxpayers should expect to pay more for law enforcement over time if Measure Z is passed. Relaxed enforcement of marijuana laws would attract people who grow or sell it, as well as those who also deal "hard drugs," like heroin, said City Councilman Danny Wan ( District 3, Grand-Lake ), during the public debate. (Ed. Quite puzzling as to why Mr. Wan is confusing the issue with heroin, why?)
"I'm worried about the unintended, negative effects," Wan said.
Reducing crime is a strong argument for legalizing heroin and cocaine - -- but not necessarily marijuana, said Robert MacCoun, a professor at UC Berkeley's Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy and Boalt Hall School of Law. Keeping "hard drugs" illegal influences the market by keeping prices for them high, he said. Addicts, in turn, often commit crimes to support their habits.
Marijuana use is not linked to violent crime, he and other experts say. (Ed. Alcohol is linked to violent crime and alcohol is legal and it is addictive)
But if local or state agencies were to regulate marijuana sales, people seeking it would no longer buy it from dealers who often sell drugs associated with violent crime, DeVries said.
"It reduces the public's exposure to harder drugs," he said.
UC Santa Cruz sociology professor Craig Reinarman agrees. The "separation of markets" could reduce crime. "At present, people often have to go to scary places ( to buy cannabis ) and deal with risky people," he said.
If marijuana sales became legal and taxable, such a tax could produce significant revenues for Oakland, proponents of Measure Z argue. A federal marijuana tax might raise from $2.2 billion to $6.4 billion a year, according to a study conducted by Gieringer, who has a Ph.D. from Stanford University in engineering and economic systems.
Critics of Measure Z, though, say they don't expect the state to ever legalize marijuana. And, if legalization did occur, the federal government would move to override it, they add.
But the legalization effort must start someplace, DeVries said. San Francisco voters adopted Proposition P in 1991, which made the use of medicinal marijuana legal, he explained. Five years later, California voters agreed with San Franciscans and passed Proposition 215.
"Yes, we're starting a trend," said DeVries. "And we're starting in Oakland."
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"But the whole truth is much uglier. We have documented in detail how the Iran-contra drug-running and gun-running operations run out of Bush's own office played their role in increasing the heroin, crack, cocaine, and marijuana brought into this country. We have reviewed Bush's relations with his close supporters in the Wall Street LBO gang, much of whose liquidity is derived from narcotics payments which the banking system is eager to recycle and launder."
*Industrial-Hemp has no psychoactive properties following definition of the European Economic Community (EEC); THC content is less than 0.3%. In general, low THC-seed varieties without psychoactive properties are those that have a THC content of less than 1%. (See also No-THC Hemp-seed.) THC= Delta-9 TetraHydroCannabinol. Last Update Made; Friday, December 16, 2011
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