Is Legalization the Answer in California?
A recent interview was published on December 4, 2013 in the Opinion Section of the LA Times.
The article was primarily concerned with the State of Washington's problem regulating recently legalized marijuana. The article “Mark Kleiman - pot’s go to guy” contained some extremely cogent remarks concerning California's current quagmire concerning the legalization of marijuana.
Kleiman is obviously ideologically in favor of complete legalization. As he says: "Twenty years ago, marijuana was a sixth of the illicit drug trade in this country by dollar. Now it's half. You've got 30 million people a year smoking (marijuana). A law that 30 million people a year break is not a good law." Is Kleiman an expert? He may use it but…. he does not grow it, he does not dispense it and he has no experience in the business of marijuana - either medical or recreational. Neither is he a legal expert or a lawyer who has spent years in the court room defending legitimate providers of medical marijuana.
California is a state that has "ostensibly" legalized medical marijuana.
Recent court decisions are making lawyers wonder whether the so called legalization of Medical Marijuana was just a pretext and whether the League of California Cities and the local municipalities will be allowed to continue to throw their weight around the in the Courts of California. The steps that will be necessary to resolve California's current quagmire will be set forth in future articles on this web site. As a matter of policy, however, the promoters of this article do not support the total legalization of marijuana - and neither do many of the legitimate providers of medical marijuana. The reasons are as follows:
As Mark Kleiman pointed out, the monetary regulators have not allowed the financial institutions to provide a legitimate financial infrastructure to accommodate what is predicted to be a huge amount of capital. That being the case, we are encouraging illicit providers to enter the market that will be based upon cash. No banking infrastructure - no government revenue. It's that simple.
Also as Kleiman discusses, it has not been shown that legitimate providers, with government regulations and taxes, are going to be able to capture the market from the illegal sellers. On December 5, 2013, Megan Kelly of Fox News indicated that crime in Colorado is sky rocketing because the cartels are moving in to the market. Will Wall Street backed providers be able to capture the market or even want to participate without a legitimate financial infrastructure? Don't bet on it.
From a policy standpoint, if we are not able to keep the illicit providers out of the market, we are inviting the very thing that we have been worried sick about - that the dope will be abused by teen agers! (Articles about the adverse effects to teenaged children can be reviewed on this site as well as www.emmacal.org).
Legalization is inconsistent with the strong policy to maintain a "Drug free" work place, which is good policy. Allowing marijuana use by a person who is too sick to work or who is suffering from the aches and pains of old age is acceptable. We cannot allow that policy to trump the need to have an alert, drug free work force.
Conclusion: Kleiman is ideologue, not an expert. Those who actually work in trenches, including publishers of this website, feel that legalization in any state - but especially in California with its population and its economy - will be a nightmare and will force the Federal Government to step back into the problem. Law enforcement, government and the medical marijuana industry can and should work together to resolve the many issues involving medical marijuana, but legalization is not the answer.
Charles M Farano has been an attorney for 35 years and practices both Criminal defense and Medical Marijuana law in Southern California. He has been chosen as one of Southern California’s “Superlawyers” 5 years in a row.