A peculiar phenomenon amidst the deafening debate over Prop 19 is the tendency of some in the mainstream press to pay lip service to legalization, while simultaneously and dishonestly trashing the only available opportunity to actually do it:
We can understand the frustration that led to the drafting of Proposition 19. It is absurd that the federal government lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has no medical uses and is considered as dangerous as heroin or LSD, when it may have therapeutic benefits and is less addictive and harmful than alcohol or tobacco. Yet, as we've said in our ballot endorsements, Proposition 19 is not the answer. Besides the legal problems, it would create regulatory chaos as each of California's 478 cities and 58 counties comes up with its own rules on growing, possessing, distributing and taxing the drug. [Los Angeles Times]
First of all, LA Times is just wrong that Prop 19 delegates decisions about personal cultivation and possession to local authorities. The measure would legalize possession of up to an ounce, and allow cultivation in a 5' x5' grow space by all adult Californians, and even allows home storage of personal harvests larger than an ounce. Only taxation and distribution are left to cities and counties to regulate, and it's a shame that LA Times' opposition to the measure is informed at least in part by their ignorance of this key distinction. Worse yet, there's no excuse for misinforming voters about something as significant as the fact that Prop 19 absolutely will legalize personal possession and cultivation throughout the state.
Once this is understood, their fundamental problem with Prop 19 amounts to little more than a bizarre objection to the notion that cities and counties could make their own decisions about whether to allow sales and taxation. What alternative would they propose? Something tells me that if Prop 19 didn't include that provision, LA Times would instead attack the measure for failing to give local government any say over whether or not to allow retails sales.
In other words, the reasonable minds at the Los Angeles Times completely understand our "frustration" with these "absurd" marijuana laws, but you can almost certainly count on them to come out swinging against any actual effort to address the problem. Meanwhile, USA Today is also open to legalization, but not until everyone in America agrees to it:
Eventually, there might be a national movement toward legalizing marijuana, but the key word is "national." Legalization is a decision that should be made by the entire country, not just one state… [USA Today]
Now this is just stupid. The editors of USA Today are presumably aware of the fact that each state has its own set of laws, hence it is not possible for "the entire country" to legalize marijuana in Mississippi, or even California. If Congress legalized marijuana tomorrow, it would still be illegal in all 50 states, each of which would still have to address the issue on its own. So, USA Today is against legalization happening in one state and not others, but since the alternative is constitutionally impossible, I guess we'll just have to table the discussion forever.
Sadly, the above examples of mindless obstructionism in the marijuana legalization debate have been brought to us courtesy of the editorial boards of two of our nation's largest papers. Yet, it's almost encouraging to find such revered news sources bothering to at least feign sympathy for our cause before descending back into the traditional drug war madness and dishonesty that's characterized their coverage for decades.
by Scott Morgan
October 21, 2010
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You're Either For Legalizing Marijuana or You're Against It