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Is It Time to Legalize
Marijuana in California?
By: Diana Roman
December 7, 2016

that California should legalize the use of

recreational marijuana, while there are
others who believe it should not be

The debate of whether to legalize the

legalized, even though the use of marijuana

recreational use of marijuana in California

has already been legalized in twenty states

has been ongoing for many years. With the

for medical purposes. Alaska, Colorado,

recent election and

Oregon, and

Proposition 64 on the

Washington are the four

ballot, it has appeared

states who have

to be a more talked

legalized the use of

about subject.

recreational marijuana.

Marijuana is a drug that

Even though there are

derives from the plant

cannabis. It is intended to

Recreational Marijuana shop in


many who believe that

marijuana is a dangerous
drug, California should

be used as a psychoactive drug, as well as

for medicinal purposes. Humans have been

legalize the use of recreational marijuana

using marijuana for years for fiber, seed oils,

because it will regulate taxes to generate

seed, medical treatment, and recreation. It is

money and reduce the aggressive

known as the most commonly used illicit

enforcement laws on marijuana.

drug, or an illegal drug used for non-medical

Proposition 64

purposes. For many it is also considered a

Proposition 64 legalizes the use of

gateway drug to more serious and dangerous

marijuana for adults age 21 and older.

drugs. There are many people who believe

However it also imposes state taxes on the

sales and cultivation, provides industry

number of teenagers exposed to marijuana

licensing and establishes standards for

will increase. As the number of teens

marijuana products, allows local regulation

exposed increase, then many believe that the

and taxation, and all the tax revenue will be

number of teenagers using drugs will also

dedicated to support youth programs,

increase. However, in Colorado there has

environmental protection, and law

been little to no change in the rates of

enforcement (

marijuana use, among adults and teens since


it was legalized (Dills, 2016).

There are many opponents to

There are also many people who are

Proposition 64, and the legalization of

worried that the legalization of recreational

marijuana overall. Many people believe that

use of marijuana will lead to an increase of

using marijuana leads

DUIs and car

to using and abusing

accidents. Even though

more dangerous drugs

marijuana use would

such as

be legal, there would


still be rules that

cocaine, heroin, etc. The

ability to buy and use

Doctor Lev, from San Diego campus

speaking at a Citizens Against
Legalizing Marijuana event.

recreational marijuana

would be followed, such

as that with driving and
alcohol. Driving while

will become a lot easier for many to do so

under the influence of alcohol or drugs will

because it will no longer be illegal. If people

still be enforced.

21 and older are allowed to buy marijuana

for recreational use, many believe the

Many pot growers are also worried

that once marijuana is legal it will affect

their production, there will be an increase in

marijuana began on January 1, 2014. By the

competition, and they will lose more money

end of 2014 Colorado had generated

than gain. There will now be many more

$699,198,805, by the end of 2015 the sale of

options of where to buy marijuana from.

recreational and medical marijuana

While pot growers may face some

generated $996,184,788 (Baca, 2016).

difficulties, the state will be better off

Colorado has not only seen the benefits of

overall, just like Colorado who has seen

tax revenues, but also regulated sales, jobs,

benefits of tax revenues of marijuana.

and economic development. With the

Tax Revenues

legalization of marijuana and the increase in

If California were to legalize the use

of recreational marijuana it would generate
more money into the state.
According to the OC Register
there would be an increase in
tax revenue, an estimated $1

tax revenue, the money that was once spent

on the black market or underground will

An estimated
$1 billion in
new tax

billion in new tax revenue.

now be used by the state.

Enforcement Laws
Legalizing marijuana
would also decrease the strict
and aggressive enforcement

The OC Register claims that the $1 billion

laws. There are many people who are

would be directed to programs such as drug

arrested, sentenced, or jailed for the

use prevention and treatment, helping at-risk

possession of marijuana. If California were

youth, law enforcement, environmental

to legalize marijuana the police could focus

clean-up and research (Staggs, 2016).

more on serious and violent crimes, instead

Colorado legalized marijuana in November

of chasing after, and wasting time and

2012 and the fist sales of recreational

money on a drug that is already legal in

other states. Even if people arent

marijuana (Nguyen, 2012). The same

imprisoned or fined for possession, their

research also found that men have a higher

arrest goes on their record and makes it

risk of being arrested for possession of

harder for people to find jobs, get loans, or

marijuana than women. Most of the time

buy homes.

those criminal records

It could also

affect the severity of a

decrease the racial

punishment for a future

disparity of crime.


Specific research

Even though

looking at race and

many argue that the

marijuana found that

legalization of

arrest rates for Blacks

are much higher

Chart showing decline of charges on

marijuana in 2014 in Colorado.

compared with Whites

marijuana will increase

crime and pose a threat
to public health and

(Nguyen, 2012). African Americans are 3.7

safety, research has found that the

times more likely to be arrested for

legalization of marijuana, specifically

possession (Wegman, 2014). Since younger

medical marijuana, has had no effect on

minorities are often targeted by police they

violent crime rates. According to studies

soon enough build up criminal records that

there has been no correlation between

mostly consist of marijuana misdemeanors

medical marijuana use and violent crime

and dismissed cases. Looking at age, it was

(Morris, 2014). Legalizing marijuana will

found that adolescents aged 1217 are more

not increase violent crimes, thus not

likely to get arrested for possession of

increasing public health safety concerns.

There have also been arguments that if

and laws that would be enforced. Instead of

possession and sale of marijuana were to be

the police wasting money on the war on

legal then the relationship between crime

drugs, such as marijuana, the police would

and marijuana might disappear (Morris,

be able to focus on much more serious and


violent offenses. Instead of marijuana being

The legalization of marijuana will

sold illegally, taxes on the growth and sales

bring in more money in tax revenues and

would be generated and would bring in

reduce aggressive enforcement laws. Its

money that could be used for other things.

understandable why

The money could go to

someone would not

programs to help drug

want a drug to become

prevention and

legal. However,

treatment, law

marijuana has been

enforcement, and

proved to be useful for

Marijuana store in Colorado.

medical purposes, such

environmental clean-up
and research. So even

as help with cancer and anxiety. Medical

though many believe marijuana is an illicit

marijuana is already legal in California, why

drug and should be illegal, legalizing it in

not legalize recreational marijuana as well?

California could have many benefits.

It would be treated about the same way that

alcohol is treated. There will still be rules

Baca, R. (2016, February 9). Colorado marijuana sales skyrocket to more than $996 million in
2015. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2016, from
Cunnings, J. (2015). Nonserious marijuana offenses and noncitizens: Uncounseled pleas and
disproportionate consequences. UCLA Law Review, 62(2), 510-569. Retrieved Oct. 15,
Morris, R., TenEyck, M., Barnes, J., & Kovandzic, T. (2014). The effect of medical marijuana
laws on crime: Evidence from state panel data, 1990-2006. PloS One, 9(3), e92816
Retrieved Oct. 12, 2016.
Nguyen, H., & Reuter, P. (2012). How risky is marijuana possession? Considering the role of
age, race, and gender. Crime & Delinquency, 58(6), 879-910. Retrieved Oct. 15, 2016.
Odabasi, M. (2014). Decriminalizing marijuana: Understanding marijuana debate through
history and policy. European Scientific Journal, 10(1). Retrieved Oct. 12, 2016.
Proposition 64 | Official Voter Information Guide | California Secretary of State. (n.d.).
Retrieved October 12, 2016, from
Staggs, B. E. (2016, September 16). If marijuana is legalized, where would $1 billion in new tax
revenue go? Retrieved Oct. 24, 2016, from
Wegman, J. (2014, July 28). The Injustice of Marijuana Arrests - The New York Times.
Retrieved Oct 28, 2016, from