Re: Michael Hiltzik's column "Is pot the biggest cash crop? Only if you're on drugs," April 20:
Nailing down the value of a black-market commodity like marijuana is something of a Zen sport. We do know that billions of dollars are spent every year in this country enforcing unenforceable marijuana laws. We also know that a significant amount of new revenue would be generated through strict regulation. Taken together, that's a financial impact the state simply can't afford to ignore in these desperate times.
However, fiscal arguments are only part of the rationale for ending the failed ban on marijuana. Others include reducing its availability to young people, reducing crime, violence and corruption by taking the profits away from criminal syndicates and ending the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws among people of color.
It's time to end the charade of marijuana prohibition. Tax and regulate this massive underground market, and redirect criminal justice resources to matters of real public safety.
Drug Policy Alliance,
Michael Hiltzik criticizes the methods used to estimate California's marijuana crop, but he never gives the value of or even mentions California's biggest legal crop. This leaves readers in the dark. How are we expected to make a comparison? We are still left wondering if pot is, in fact, the biggest cash crop.
There are not "reasonable arguments on both sides" of the debate of whether to legalize marijuana. There is nothing reasonable about prohibition; it squanders finite resources, creates drug cartels and overcrowds prisons. And in an allegedly free country, there is nothing reasonable about having to ask the government's permission to use a substance that -- at worst -- only hurts oneself.