Should I vote to legalize marijuana in my state?

In my state (Arizona) there is a ballot proposition to legalize marijuana. There has been a lot of pro and con mailings and commercials, and I don’t know who to believe.

So how has the legalization of marijuana affected other states that have already done it? Has crime gotten worse? Are more kids using drugs? More DUIs? Other effects?

Lets look at Colorado:

Regarding crime:


I will vote yes to legalize, not only because of that, but also because, historically speaking, the very reason why marijuana was banned had a lot to do with bigoted and racist ideas. It is no coincidence that minorities are the ones most affected by the ban.

In Washington State I don’t perceive any problems with legalization. And, on the other hand: Freedom is up.

I’m sure, like Colorado info posted above, there are studies available if anyone wants to google.
Here’s what I found:


Washington reporting in. Vastly less “crime” in that we no longer spend money to arrest these folks as it’s not a crime. No increases in other crimes. Substantial new source of funds in our coffers and vast savings in the courts/jails. No visible change in public (I don’t smell/see pot walking down the street any more than I used to). In my middle-class educated social circle, it’s no more or less acceptable than before (comes out occasionally and discreetly at a party sometimes, as it always has).

There’s aggressive “keep it out of the hands of kids” advertising and it’s too soon to say if it’s having a statistical or normative effect on kids, so that’s a lingering concern. Our initiative had a stupid-low DUI threshold in the blood; you can be done for DUI for a toke you had 2 days ago - but I haven’t seen the stats (there’s definitely been no news on “more people crashing while high” or anything).

So other than waiting to see if it affects kids (and how to combat it if it does), several big positives on $$ and justice system with no negatives that I can point to.


Yes, vote yes. The downside is vastly outweighed by the upside. Revenue for taxes and decreases in useless incarcerations more than outweigh the uptick in drug treatment programs.

Also it is a vote for personnel liberty and more freedoms to choose.

I’ve already made up my mind to vote yes.

To me it is inconceivable that any increase in crime (which seems unlikely in any case) could compare to the damage done by the marijuana ban. With hard drugs there might be an argument, but not with pot.

One caveat: Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Currently, the Feds are choosing to look the other way in states that have decided to allow it, but that could very easily change with a different administration. And if a legal marijuana industry has built up when that happens, it could cause some economic shocks when it’s suddenly (de facto) delegalized again.

Of course, on the other hand, the more states legalize it, the more pressure there will be to change the law at the federal level, too. And it’s possible that this might happen before an administration comes in that decides to enforce the laws.

It’s been legal to have two ounces and grow six plants in Washington DC for nearly two years now. If we had a functional government, this would have been taken care of on the national level by now.

I’m in Maine. Medical marijuana is legal here and this year we have a recreational legalization proposition to vote on as well. I’m torn.

I’m not sure what the rules are on outright admitting to smoking weed somewhere that it isn’t legal yet, but lets just say that if I *did *want to experiment with marijuana I don’t know how much I’d want to go down to the Pot Store and get an gram for $30. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve been told that full half-ounces can be had for $125, if one knows the right people. So I’m told.

Anyway. Yeah, legalization will make it a little easier, but it won’t make it any cheaper. And I value my experimentation-dollar. You know, if like, that day ever comes.

Yes. Actually, legalise the lot. Next question?

More seriously, are not related crimes are already covered under existing laws? Driving while drugged? DUI. Theft? That’s already a crime. Etc.

IANACPA, but my understanding of the tax rules says that unlike any other business, they are unable to write off expenses, and so have to pay their taxes on revenue, rather than on profit. This is because they are engaged in an unlawful business, and as such they are not allowed to write off illegal expenses.

This makes the product much more expensive to sell.

If the fed changed the law, or at least directed the IRS to allow marijuana businesses to write off their expenses, prices would probably come down very rapidly.

I think the odds of that happening are so small as to be negligible. Especially as more states legalize it, and that’s bound to happen. I’m pretty sure it’s going to pass in CA this year, so that’s ~12% of the population right there. It would be political suicide for a president to crack down on states w/ legal marijuana laws. A majority of the entire country favors legalization.

In Arizona, many of the county (district) attorneys have publicly opposed legalization, offering the usual hysteria about the effects of marijuana, how marijuana DUIs would skyrocket, and of course, think of the children. What they don’t mention is that there is a mandatory drug fine of $1,000+ in Arizona for every marijuana conviction (and possession of even a tiny, but usuable quantity of marijuana in Arizona without a valid medical marijuana card is still a felony). Also, a not insignificant number of police stops and searches begin with officers smelling marijuana, arresting someone, and then using this as a (lawful) basis to search the arrested person, their car, or their nearby possessions for other possible crimes. Prosecutors rely heavily on both the fines and searches conducted following marijuana possession arrests.

There is a reason that the Arizona proposition’s non-number title is “regulate marijuana like alcohol.” While minors have historically found many ways around the ban on alcohol sales to anyone under 21, they would still likely find ways to get around any ban on marijuana sales to anyone under 21. But that is no different than their ability to do so now through a random dealer.

Ultimately, alcohol and tobacco are far more harmful substances to someone’s health than marijuana. While marijuana is known to cause some damage to someone’s brain with long term use, particularly when that use starts at a young age, there is really no credible comparison in the level of harm. The prosecutors and public officials who want to maintain the criminal ban on marijuana show their craven hypocrisy by insisting on marijuana’s dangerousness to health and public safety while completely accepting the regulation of alcohol and tobacco with no comment.

When I was growing up (back in the dark ages of the 60s) it was easier for us younguns to buy pot than to buy alcohol. Everyone knew who the guys were who sold pot, and you didn’t need a fake ID or need to convince some adult to buy it for you.

And yet, prices have been dropping lower and lower, particularly when accounting for the greater potency per dollar and all of the new extraction forms.

Besides the increased taxes and reduced arrests/prosecutions, the main effect of legalizing mj is that smugglers from Mexico have been largely put out of business[sup]1[/sup]. But that was mostly accomplished by medical marijuana, which is legal in half the states already.

However, the one area of the country that does not have medical mj is the South, unless you count Delaware and DC in that region. This year, two southern states, Arkansas and Florida, have medi-weed on their ballot. If those pass it will be a bigger change than California and the other four states legalizing recreational mj.
[sup]1[/sup] I do wonder how much mj is now being smuggled from the US to Mexico. From what I’ve heard, the best stuff is grown indoors. Mexican weed is mostly grown outdoors and in the US indoors, at least the stuff that’s quasi-legal. Legalizing recreational mj in CA and AZ can only increase the amount exported.

Aside from other people’s arguments, is what you observe with respect to marijuana being currently illegal stuff that you would label as a “net positive” for society?

It’s amazing in a sense; all those arguments that have been touted for decades are coming to pass - tax revenues, lower crime, decriminalising earlier racist laws, more effective use of police time, less socially disruptive than alcohol, etc, etc.