Cannabis (marijuana) also known to have many other names that once originated and got its name from the Mexican Spanish "marihuana", now it has already become the most widely abused illicit "psychotropic" and "psychoactive" drug in the US as well as all over the world. It has been everywhere throughout history and grown in a wide range of climates of the planet. Today in many states of the US, including California, is the number one cash crop that is remarkably popular on the black market. However, one can hardly believe that cannabis was used for food in China as early as in 6000 B.C. About four hundred years later there it was first used as medicine that led to its spreading in world pharmacopoeia for curing of a wide range of diseases. Paradoxically in the Institute of Medicine recently carried out a research that gave evidence that smocking marijuana is not recommended for treatment of any disease, as it has potentially dangerous side effects, and even for such diseases as glaucoma contemporary doctors have already explored much more effective medicines. On the contrary it is proved that marijuana has grave health consequences, including short-term as well as long-term effects on the human organism. Short-term effects are felt in a few minutes and may last from three to twenty-four hours after smoking. Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include and are not limited to anxiety, distorted perception, physical tension, memory and learning problems, stomach pain, loss of coordination, insomnia, sleepiness, strange dreams, increased aggression and heart rate, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and throat, appetite decrease etc.
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Marijuana is not only rolled into a cigarette or put in a pipe, it is also added into food or tea, vaporized in pipes called hookahs. And eaten in food marijuana effect takes longer to begin but lasts longer too (Buddy). The drug five times raises the risk of heart diseases, as it makes the heart to beat rapidly and the blood pressure to drop resulting in heart attacks. Marijuana doubles the risk of lung infections, such as pneumonia, three times increases the risk of cancer, lung cancer in particular (though some surveys refute the statement), increases the probability of psychiatric conditions of anxiety and depression, distrust and panic, marijuana influences the immune system as well. Smocking on a regular basis influences the body's ability to defend itself against infections. Affecting lungs the drug causes burning and stringing of the throat, heavy coughing and quite similar respiratory symptoms heavy tobacco smokers habitually have. It affects human brain causing delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, impaired memory, psychological dependence etc (Buddy). Marijuana side effects are aggravated when the addict also takes other drugs such cocaine or alcohol.
To make matters worse, a marijuana user can do harm to others by contributing to crime or being involved in accidents. A considerable percentage of the arrested for crimes were tested positive for cannabis and according to the article "Smoking Pot Doubles Risk of Fatal Accidents" driving after smocking marijuana doubles the risk of fatal accidents, the recent research indicates. It is also reported that "a study by the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research published in the British Medical Journal found that seven per cent of drivers involved in fatal highway crashes used marijuana" (Buddy). Small amounts of the drug taken twice increase the probability of suffering an accident while larger amounts triple the risk (Buddy). According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, it is completely irresponsible to take marijuana or any other illicit drug and "get behind the wheel", as it stands to reason that it affects coordination. Another survey published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal stated that cannabis did not have long-term effects on intelligence. A 2001 study published in Archives of General Psychiatry Journal determined that long-term cannabis smokers hardly showed any notable differences in comparison to non-users, let alone former heavy smokers who demonstrated no difference as well (Armentano). Paul Armentano in his turn adduces the proofs of least harm done by cannabis in comparison to alcohol and tobacco, by referring to a 2009 British report that determined: "In terms of (health) costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user" (Armentano). It is established that cannabinoids in the content of marijuana are non-toxic and, therefore, unlike alcohol, cannabis overconsumption cannot lead to fatal overdose. Moreover, unlike alcoholically intoxicated drivers cannabis-smokers are aware of their impairment and drive more cautiously and are often accompanied with somebody (Armentano). Though the risk of vehicle accidents with marijuana users cannot be denied and a number of studies give evidence of that. However, a 2007 study established that the alcoholically intoxicated motorists were four times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than drivers tested positive for cannabis (Armentano).
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The history of marijuana's recognition, use and prohibition is definitely long and involves tangled bureaucratic procedures on local and federal levels. In 2008 in Central Asia archeologists dug up an interesting fact, they discovered cannabis in the 2,700-year-old grave of an Asian shaman. In California "marijuana" was known only by its botanical name "cannabis indica" first. Cannabis was introduced to the state in the form of hemp at Mission San Jose in 1795, hence, the Spanish hardly suspected the cultivated crop to be psychoactive or medically useful. Cannabis was gradually spreading in Europe. In 1843 in Paris Hashish Eater's Club with the original name "Le Club des Hachichins" was founded. In the 1850s cannabis appeared in Greece. Then, cannabis indica came to appear in the assortment of other medicines in American pharmacies and in 1850s the crop was consumed orally until the case of cannabis intoxication published by Bayard Taylor in 1854. The writer and traveler ran across hashish and told his experience in a periodical and mentioned it in two of his books (Gieringer). Taylor was not alone in trying to commit his feelings to paper, he was successfully followed by Fitz Hugh Ludlow who is known for writing the first psychedelic book entitled "The Hashish Eater" in 1857. There the writer described his hallucinogenic visions verging on insanity. Hashish came to be available in pharmacies and via mail order to the excited admirers of Ludlow in California, today his book could be regarded as a step for the drug promotion.
True, the end of the nineteenth century was the time of drug use popularity in the US, but what Californians were most interested in was opium not cannabis. The situation worsened as soon as the economy declined in the 1870s and drug habit spread to whites. It began to trouble the authorities and San Francisco enacted the nation's first anti-drug statute in 1875. However, in practice opium went on flourishing in the back-alleys of Chinatown. Anti-narcotic bills though they included hemp drugs were basically aimed at opium and dramatically grew in number between 1880s and 1890s. The act enacted in 1880s proclaimed the necessity to regulate the sale of narcotic poisons except for written prescriptions of licensed drug stores (Gieringer). The first US anti-hemp bill was passed in 1889 and entitled Missouri Statute, according to it everyone who maintained deadly drugs for any purpose is guilty of a misdemeanor. Meanwhile the data on hemp drugs abuse in California was quite obscure and the only article is found that testifies to the recreational use of hashish in the nineteenth-century California that was published in San Francisco Call in 1895.
To explain the way drugs spread in California one should trace the impact the mounting numbers of immigrants made on it, The Syrians who migrated from the Middle East evidently dealt with hashish that could not help but influence not only the Syrian community. It is recorded that "their 20-acre plot near Stockton could have produced a sizable yield: similar-sized pharmaceutical farms produced 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of medical cannabis" (Gieringer). There is no precise data on further functioning of the farm but it finally disappeared and hashish was not mentioned in periodicals of California till the prohibition on it was enacted in 1913. By the turn of the century the cannabis was seldom referred to in press and rarely used in medicine, as according to the experts California-grown plant and its effects required further scrutiny. Therefore, according to The Pacific Pharmacist, cannabis was not enlisted among the drug plants cultivated on the territory of the state and never commercially grown for medical purposes. Cannabis was substantially imported from India up to World War I, yet when the foreign policy changed the US managed to grow the crop on its own territory with California becoming the main center for medical cannabis cultivation. Later on, in 1990s San Francisco also welcomed the movement of medical marijuana growing.
At the same time "marihuana" started penetrating into California from Mexico and meant cannabis that was exactly a leaf smoked in cigarette. The San Francisco Call mentions its appearance in America and traces the way it integrates into the society. In Mexico the plant "had an alarming reputation of provoking madness", violence and death (Gieringer). Gieringer ironically notices that though presently much controversy concerns medical marijuana, it was accepted and first cultivated in America for this very purpose. Mexican plant belonged to a low-class drug in the country from where it came and as the Mexican Herald stated: "Marihuana is a weed used only by people of the lower class and sometimes by soldiersâ€¦ The drug leaves of marihuanaâ€¦ make the smoker wilder than a wild beastâ€¦ people who smoke marihuana finally lose their mind and never recover itâ€¦"(Gieringer). Marihuana was used in the 1920s in the Mexican Revolution and only in the 1930s it became a common practice among the common people.
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Remarkably, Mexican marijuana turned out to be the same as cannabis indica, and though the effects of cannabis were widely studied, still the plant was not regarded as one of deadly poisons. And in 1910-1920s unlike opium or hashish, it continued to play no part in the debate over the federal drug legislation. It was the period of progressivism in California and the climax of the alcohol prohibition movement. Still it was prohibited for non-medical use in a number of states including California, Louisiana and New York. In 1920s cannabis was prohibited in Great Britain as well, while in India and Central Asia legal hashish turnover seemed to continue for a long time to come. Today, by the way, medical marijuana brings in about $200 million, being subject to sales tax.
Actually, the tide of anti-narcotic movement came to California from abroad, it gradually developed on the international scale and it urged on signing the Pure Food and Drugs Act mentioning cannabis indica among the other intoxicating substances. California's participation in the international anti-narcotic "fight" headed by California's new Governor James Gillett who laid the foundation of Californian long-lasting war on drugs (Gieringer). Then the adopted laws in terms of the anti-narcotic policy of the state concerned possession and sales prohibition of drugs as well as a ban imposed on the refills and prescriptions to addicts. Hamilton Wright, the newly appointed Opium Commissioner devoted himself to carrying out a survey of universities, pharmacies and other institutions that could possibly deal with narcotics. And according to Los Angeles Times, he planned to legislate against Indian hemp as well. And again cannabis was dropped from the Harrison Act signed in 1913. However, Henry J. Finger who represented the California State Board of Pharmacy, headed the campaign against drugs and came to be known as the author of California's pharmacy "law regulating sale of poisons" (Gieringer). The Board's enforcement power and penalties for drug abuse increase were detailed in the bills prepared by W.A. Sutherland of Fresco and Sen. Edward K. Strobridge of Hayward. The Board's work was made public in mass media, including such reliable periodicals as Washington Post, Pacific Medical Journal and others. Pharmacy journals could not help but highlight the law of 1913 that was only aimed at restricting the recreational use of hemp drugs, it had "unfortunate implications for pharmaceutical uses" as well (Gieringer). In California the law prohibited almost all hemp drugs, but, actually, it was never intended to restrict their pharmaceutical properties use, including applying cannabis to curing cough, asthma, colic etc. So, the nature of the law itself and its practical coming into force was as obscure as the effect of cannabis itself. Dale H. Gieringer in "The Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in California" also traced the influence the Hindus exercised on spreading cannabis, and claimed that all the immigrants including the Mexicans and the Syrians played a part in promoting the drug's recreational use in California. The Board's enforcement agents took drastic measures in Sonoratown's neighborhood in 1914 that brought marijuana to the attention of the people.
Cannabis was more and more frequently sold to customers in different states of the US, including the state under consideration and in 1915 made the Board to issue one more Poison Law that forbade the possession and sale of cannabis except on prescription. Nonetheless, hemp drugs were prescribed for years and the law actually was not enforced and received no attention of the public. In 1920s marijuana news was highlighted mainly in the Los Angeles Times, the prominent case of marijuana abuse concerned a Mexican maid who said to use the drug for stomach trouble. According to the research conducted one may conclude that cannabis use and distribution remained unnoticed for so many years until it was several times mentioned "marihuana" in the San Francisco Examiner in 1921. Not long after that the New York Times published an article on marijuana and by 1924 the arrests concerning the drug abuse were regularly reported in local newspapers.
The laws passed in California, as well as other states were basically of preventative character than giving the due response to public demand (Gieringer). However, an accident that occurred in 1915 in El Paso, Texas when a Mexican desperado went mad by marijuana use and killed a policeman, led to the investigation that in its turn resulted in marijuana prohibition, with simultaneous banning of cannabis use for medical purposes. In the 1920s the interest in marijuana grew rapidly and periodicals including the San Francisco Chronicle reported of marijuana arrests with the substance characterized as being "short cut to the lunatic asylum for adults and sure death for children" (Gieringer).
With the gradual growth of interest in cannabis their increased the anti-narcotic tide as a counterbalance to it. Illegal sale was punished as "a misdemeanor by a $100-$400 fine and/or 50-180 days in jail for first offenders" (Gieringer). The actions against marijuana could not but influence California's hemp fiber industry and the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 completely undermined hemp agriculture in the state of California and made cannabis federally illegal. The striking statistics reports that in 1925-26 one-quarter of the general amount of arrests in Los Angeles was due to marijuana arrests. Meanwhile, press showed maximum interest to the phenomenon in the early 1930s and William Walker, Narcotics Division chief remarked in his interview that the situation with cannabis was far more grave than any citizen might consider, it, hence, required peculiar attention on the side of the State. Harry Anslinger, US Commissioner of Narcotics, said that California needed no amendments to the laws dealing with narcotics. Marijuana was thoroughly examined and its properties highlighted in the pamphlet "Marihuana: Our Newest Narcotic Menace" that reported that for about a decade the drug was actually unknown in the US. Though it is "an excitant drug" that attacks the central nervous system and mentality, moreover, "it serves no legitimate purposes whatsoever"(Gieringer). He also claims that there is no excuse for using or selling marijuana, the guilty will be provided the most severe punishment. Anti-narcotic policy was substantially supported by the State in the 1950s and the number of the arrests grew dramatically over the next decade. Simultaneously Afghani hashish manufacture grew rapidly, Morocco became one of most influential hashish manufacturing and exporting countries. Surprisingly and unexpectedly marijuana abuse turned into a mass phenomenon so that the State had to eliminate prison sentences for minor marijuana offenses in 1975.
In the 1990s the world went on selling and importing marijuana, though rival Muslim clans' conflicts, for instance, considerably destabilized hashish trade in Afghanistan. Pakistan went on with its marijuana production and as well as other Oriental countries. In 1995 hashish also started to be locally manufactured in Amsterdam. The scary statistics gives evidence that more than 200,000 US citizens entered cannabis abuse and dependence treatment in 1999. Thereby, thousands of addicts turned to rehab for intense therapies for treating marijuana dependence. Presently it is being known though, that "the tetrahydrocannabinol content of marijuana rose from an average of 3,71 per cent in 1985 to an average of 5,57 per cent in 1998", that means that the drug potency has now risen considerably in comparison with what it used to be at the beginning of the twentieth century, according to the report of the University of Mississippi.
Indeed, contemporary scholars also examine the effects cannabis has on the human organism. They consider that it has specific psychological, physical and therapeutical effects that differ for different people depending on the percentage of THC and other cannabinoids in the marijuana plant (Armentano). In Current Drug Abuse Review Nadja Solowij and Robert Battisti discuss cannabis use and the associated with it memory problems. They emphasize that short-term memory problems are the most common consequences of cannabis regular use. With the growth of this illicit drug's popularity the research of the consequences it leads to and its impact on brain and memory function have become especially actual. The research exposed "difficulties in manipulating the contents of working memory, failure to use semantic processing and organization to optimize episodic memory encoding, and impaired retrieval performance" (Solowij & Battisti). It is also assigned that impaired memory function continues even after the period of intoxication and its term depends on the cannabis use parameters. It may also cause a state of chronic intoxication and further alteration of neural function that requires a longer period for recovery. Cannabis users have to keep in mind that impaired memory function may persist for hours or days depending on the cannabis variety (Solowij & Battisti).
Not surprisingly, California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. And interest in it was supported in fourteen states, in the rest, however, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Interest in cannabis grew rapidly, so by 1998 marijuana became the fourth largest cash crop in the US giving way only to soybeans, corn and hay. America spent about $10 billion a year to enforce its prohibition to witness "the failure and futility" of the business (St. Pierre). In 1998 marijuana ranked as one of the top five cash crops in twenty-nine states, and even raised funding did not scale down the crop cultivation.
Currently marijuana has become the US largest cash crop that brings $35,8 billion a year with the state of California alone yielding 8.6 million-pound harvest that makes up about $14 billion. In accordance with Jon Gettman's report, its production exceeds corn, hay and soybeans (Bailey). He made up a comparison report dated 2006 that established that between 2003 and 2005 marijuana was the top cash crop in twelve states (California, Tennessee, Hawaii, Connecticut, Alaska, Maine, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia and Alabama), third top cash crop in thirty states and fifth top crop in thirty-nine states. Gettman tabulated the results of his research, the most essential data is presented in the following tables.
Table 1. Top Cash Crops in the United States (Average Value 2003 - 2005)
Table 2. Thirty States Where Marijuana is One of the Top Three Cash Crops
Average Values 2003 - 2005; Production Values ($1000s) Â
Marijuana brings in more than grapes or tobacco and even more than corn and wheat taken together (Balderas & Tobin). So, California is responsible for about a third of the marijuana harvest and remains a top cash crop in the overwhelming majority of states. And the production has evidently increased ten times in the past thirty years in spite of prohibition measures in terms of the War on Drugs.
Jon Gettman, the researcher of the issue, cites definite figures in the 2005 report that adduce proofs that since 1981 the production has grown tenfold. It is estimated that California despite the numerous plant seizures grew more than 20 million marijuana plants in 2006 and developed both indoor and outdoor cannabis manufacture (Bailey). The indoor cultivation includes growing the plant in basements, closets and trailers, while outdoor growing means planting it outdoors along fences, in forests and underdeveloped rural areas, private lands etc. Producing a little less than 40 per cent of marijuana cultivated in the US, California is the state where the production of the crop exceeds the consumption (Bailey). Still, according to the research of 2010 Californians consume 14 per cent of the annually used marijuana in the US.
There has always been a great deal of controversy over the legalization of marijuana being an attractive means of raising revenue for California, the movement has both its opponents and proponents. This time California again will make history if it legalizes the recreational marijuana use for adults. However, the issue being briskly discussed and having its undercurrents requires careful investigation with all pros and cons considered avoiding one-sided views and anticipatory conclusions. Firstly, let us consider the reasons that are given by the opponents of marijuana legalization who claim that things should be left as they are and the state should look for other ways of raising revenue rather than those only adding to social woes and doing harm to unconscientious users (Stateman). One of the legalization opponents is Tom Riley, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy spokesman, who considers that cannabis "will not work out for" Californians, as Coca has not for Colombians, and opium for Afghans. On the contrary, they worked disastrously for the nations and Riley does not understand why the state should venture down the same road, grounding on previous experiences. In "California Could Legalize Pot In November" other opponents consider that marijuana can become a kind of "gateway" drug that will urge people to try it and underestimate the risk, therefore it will lead to worsening of the nation's drug culture. John Lovell, a representative of the California Peace Officers' Association, assures that cannabis is just one more mind-altering substance that will add problems to what already exists with alcohol and pharmaceuticals. Lovell supposes that legalizing the drug will definitely result in a surge in its use (Stateman). Joel W. Hay also notes marijuana's possible harm in case of its legalization connected with its effect on humans and calls it a drug that will most likely "add to the toll in society â€¦cause bad outcomes for both people who use it and for the people who are in their way at work or other activities" (Stateman). He agrees that there are responsible citizens who can handle the drug and treat it properly, but there is a considerable number of those who cannot. Therefore, it can impact them, their families and neighbors. Much is told about the way attitude of people towards marijuana changes if the bill is passed, marijuana legalization is predicted to lower the perception risk, as well as legalization of alcohol once worked. Naturally, illegal drug pushers are also dissatisfied with possible drug legalization as it promises bringing them less profit, as the price of marijuana will definitely decrease and make them to compete against legal marijuana cultivators. Silas Miers, the California Mothers Against Drunk Driving spokesman, remarks that if the recreational use of cannabis is eventually legalized, the accidents of impaired driving, injuries, crashes etc will raise and it is natural that their organization speaks against it (Whitcomb). Opponents reasonably believe that legalization of marijuana will not be a kind of panacea able to end the drug war and they rage that the social costs marijuana legalizing brings will exceed the revenues it may bring in. In the interview cited in "Legalizing Marijuana in California Not the Answer to Drug War" Gil Kerlikowske, President Barack Obama's drug czar, suggests that increased prevention and treatment would be better solutions and legalization would hardly be beneficial for Californians, let alone solving the budget crises and reducing Mexican drug trafficking. He also refuted the assertion that in case marijuana is legalized children will gain less access to the drug, giving alcohol and cigarettes as examples that are in free trade now (Kerlikowske). By the way, Paul Armentano in his "Testimony in Support of Assembly Bill 390: The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act, Before the Assembly Committee on Health" that determines that marijuana is not a harmless substance, however, finds that alcohol and cigarettes are the two legal substances that lead to far greater harm than marijuana ever could do (Armentano). He goes on to reason that "any risk presented by marijuana smoking falls within the ambit of choice we should permit the individual in a free society"(Armentano). Kerlikowske also adduces proofs by giving statistical overview of marijuana abuse, he says that, according to the survey, "47 per cent of Californians receiving treatment for marijuana are younger than eighteen, compared to 28 per cent in the rest of the nation, and 65 per cent began using marijuana at fourteen or younger, compared to 55 per cent for the rest of the nation" (Kerlikowske). John Standish, the California Peace Officer's Association president, finds the legalization ultimately denigrating and states that law enforcement association leaders are all against the legalization initiative. He also claims that it comes into clashes with the standards of a drug-free workplace observation, as it makes it impossible for California's institutions to provide it and comply with the initiative's requirements.
The defenders of legalization of the illicit drug also give reasons and enumerate countless benefits the passage of the Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 can result in. As at present cannabis is officially illegal in all states except fourteen and the District of Columbia where it is permitted for medical purposes, the passage of the bill legalizing marijuana will allow government to control and tax the drug cultivation and enable individuals 21 years of age to grow 25 square feet of cannabis and share one ounce of the drug for private use. The passage of the act will make the state the pioneer of marijuana legalization in America. And as Stephen Gutwillig, the Drug Policy Alliance director, states, it will become "a watershed moment in the decades-long struggle to end marijuana's prohibition in this country"(Whitcomb). He substantiated his viewpoint by saying that "banning marijuana has been a disaster, fueling a massive, increasingly brutal underground economy" that chucked money around law enforcement resources and sticking labels of criminals on law-abiding American citizens. Stephen Gutwillig also believes that Californians should not overstate the importance of their being the first to end the public policy disaster (Gutwillig).
Aaron Smith, Marijuana Policy Project California director, made statement that today "it is simply nonsensical that California's largest agricultural industry is completely unregulated and untaxedâ€¦ in an ongoing fiscal crisisâ€¦it's time to bring this major piece of our economy into the light of day" (Smith). Indeed, the general tendency shows that Californians are more and more relaxed about pot, they agree that it will help to bridge the state budget deficit, what is more, the majority of them admit to having smoked marijuana, so legalizing the drug turns out to be supported by the citizens. More than half of the people in California defend marijuana legalization and 44 per cent of Americans in different states support their opinion (Whitcomb). Recent Canadian research that was aimed at establishing the motifs of marijuana consumers estimates that male and female marijuana users "enhance relaxation", the subjects do not use it regularly and compulsively, they claim that cannabis assists in coping with daily challenges and makes their leisure time more pleasurable (Armentano). Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reacted to the support of marijuana legalization by Californians, he said that he is always for an open debate on the matter. Schwarzenegger added: "â€¦we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalized marijuana and other drugs, what effect did it have on those countries"(Schwarzenegger).
The issue has numerous defenders who call for admitting that California has come to the situation when marijuana is the only reasonable way out and legislators should recognize its potential in reviving the state's economy. Virtually, the proponents give two key arguments in favor of legalization of marijuana, the first one, by far, the most persuasive, concerns financial side of the problem. After the passage of the act, California will be able to decide on commercial production and sale taxes of cannabis. The second argument deals with violence in Mexico, so home-cultivated marijuana could replace illegally imported cannabis from Mexico reducing the violence it brings and the profits of the trafficking Mexican cartels. Californian cannabis is predicted to become competitive in other US states, moreover, it would be cheaper and stronger than its Mexican prototype. So, according to the recent survey of Dale Gieringer, Californian "legally regulated market for marijuana could yield the state at least $1,2 billion in tax revenues and reduce enforcement costs. A basic $50/ounce excise tax (roughly $1/joint) would yield about $770-900 million per year plus another $240-360 million in sales taxes" (Gieringer). Besides, the state saves on enforcement costs for prosecutions, trial and prison, it improves employment and develops spinoff industry that is represented with tourism and coffeehouses' or "pot clubs" nets. They could not only play a part in recovering the state's economy, but also could make a medical breakthrough, researchers would have a chance top study the substance. An excise tax would increase as well as total revenues would definitely skyrocket. Bold forecasts even say that industrial hemp could be a major business similar to what California has with cotton, as Gieringer notes in his 2009 California NORML Report (Gieringer). Presently, the hard-line approach to medical use of marijuana is softened as well as the federal line on cannabis in general, as Attorney General Eric Holder approved of decriminalization and taxation of the drug (Stateman). Despite all the efforts to ban or limit production of marijuana in many states, the reality is that it has already spread across the country, marijuana business is booming. As Gettman metaphorically noticed, "to say that the genie is out of the bottle is a profound understatement" (Bailey).
John H. Richardson, as well as the rest marijuana legalization defenders, ironically considers that drug prohibition is ineffective, costly and counter-productive, and notices that "opponents of the proposed law to legalize and tax marijuana need better arguments, because just saying they are concerned that kids will start driving high is sending the debate up in smoke" (Richardson). A devoted proponent of cannabis legalization James Gray considers that by making cannabis illegal government "glamorizes it" and makes a forbidden fruit out of one of a great number of addictive substances known to the contemporary American society. He claims that mind-altering substances, whether people like it or not, "are here to stay" and calls people for trying to reduce the harms they do (Whitcomb). Currently marijuana operations are harmful for the environment, after its legalization the state would better regulate noxious chemical spills and reduce their number as well as eliminate forest ecosystems' destruction.
The already mentioned above California's Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act (California Assembly Bill 390), introduced in 2009, if passed, promised legalization of cultivation, possession, sale and use of marijuana by adults who are twenty-one and older. The author of the bill, an Assembly member, Tom Ammiano, identified it as non-urgency, fiscal, non-appropriations bill with majority vote required for passage. According to Ammiano, the act presupposes funding of the programs discouraging substance abuse and suggests a similar to alcohol wholesale and retail regulation program (Spencer). The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act, the passage of which was planned for November, 2, is intended to legalize and regulate marijuana use and raise funding to promote programs discouraging the drug abuse via marijuana tax. It is also intended to enable government to reconsider its policy towards marijuana use. The act proposes the use of marijuana legally without facing penalties by those who reached twenty-one. One adult is proposed to grow and possess up to ten mature marijuana plants (Spencer). It, moreover, presupposes industrial and legal cultivation of the crop. However, the act would not change the positions that use of marijuana by citizens under twenty-one years of age is illegal as well as driving under marijuana influence. Public consumption of marijuana, including its sale and possession on the territory of school playgrounds, would remain illegal and criminally punishable with a penalty of $100. Employers would also have a right to test employees on marijuana (Spencer) and punish them for marijuana consumption as it definitely impairs job performance the same way alcohol does.
Meridith Spencer in her overview of the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act reasons on the influence of the act on the daily lives of teenagers. Teens would have decreased access to marijuana with the implementation of "card" system for retailers (Spencer). Moreover, the regulation of the quality and the level of THC in the substance would be facilitated, let alone saving millions of dollars annually spent on marijuana public prohibition. The money brought in from taxes on the substance could be directed at public safety matters (Spencer).
Tom Ammiano, believing that marijuana legalization would deprive Mexican cartels of their power, sought agreement with the rest Assembly members and finally the proposal to legalize and tax marijuana in California was approved by them voted 4-3. It was for the first time in history that state legislative body took the abolition of marijuana legal use prohibition seriously. The author of the bill collected all the argument to reason the bill passage and he considers that in terms of the economic crisis the regulation and taxation of marijuana would generate required revenue and end the environmental damage from illicit crops, and improve public safety due to the redirection of efforts. In turn, Paul Armentano, the author of "Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink" made up "Testimony in Support of Assembly Bill 390: The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act, Before the Assembly Committee on Health", the Health Committee is to consider the act and pronounce its judgment. In the document NORML Deputy Director claimed that by enacting the legalization of marijuana, state will effectively impose controls over citizens that legally produce, distribute and consume marijuana. This will enable state and law enforcement regulators to promote public safety rather than jeopardize it with the absence of due control (Armentano). He ensures that passage of "The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act" would provide consistent control by imposing appropriate state restrictions and regulations on the cannabis market.
War on Drugs seems to go on, despite we all have already realized what really matters and who has to be protected by the law. The efforts to reform Californian marijuana laws and revive the state's economy by increasing the revenues will possibly solve California's pressing problems concerning budget deficit and illegal drug consumption. Marijuana is damaging to the community and what opponents of it legalization say definitely makes sense, still it is hard to deny that today saying "yes" to legalization of cannabis is a matter of time and if the bill is not passed this fall, it will sooner or later become a reasonable solution the implementation of which requires thorough working out of the regulatory framework dealing with cannabis in future. Time will probably show the answer.