Imagine it. Grownup Californians making a choice that should never have been denied them in the first place.
Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 would allow adults in that state to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal consumption; to use marijuana in a non-public place; and to grow the weed at a private residence in an area not to exceed 25 square feet.
Whether you live in New Jersey or Tennessee, Texas or Oregon, there are compelling reasons for you and residents of all the other states to actively support this campaign in California.
Who should favor, and therefore work for the passage of Proposition 19? An abbreviated list, including both overlapping and contradictory stakeholders:
Law enforcement whose members face on the one hand the prospect of sudden, violent death at the hands of drug cartels and street gangs, and on the other the hostility they encounter when enforcing draconian, everybody-loses prohibition laws;
Members of the medical community who understand that marijuana is far less harmful to individuals and to society than alcohol and tobacco;
The scientific community whose research findings on both medical and recreational uses of marijuana have been widely ignored or distorted by drug war fanatics;
Politicians who could and should have moved years ago to legalize, tax, and control cannabis, and who now have an opportunity to show some real civic leadership;
Teachers, preachers, coaches, and counselors who, under a controlled and regulated system, would theoretically be able to make a more reasoned and persuasive anti-drug use appeal to children;
Parents who would finally be able to look their kids in the eye and tell them, "Yes, I use it. And, no, you cannot. Not until you're 21";
Conservatives who believe in states' rights;
Libertarians who believe in limited government;
Liberals and progressives who believe in nondiscriminatory policing, freedom of choice, and social justice;
Editorialists in both old and new media who, as opinion shapers, can make up for years of blind acceptance of the "This is your brain on drugs" lies and distortions of drug war propagandists;
Civil libertarians who are rightly offended by the erosion of Americans' civil liberties, particularly those embodied in the Fourth Amendment;
Ethnic minorities who for decades have been targeted, arrested, jailed, convicted, and sentenced to much longer prison terms in stunningly disproportionate numbers;
Students, workers, residents of public housing who have lost loans, jobs and career prospects, and/or the roofs over their heads because of a drug bust;
Families of the busted who've seen their loved ones -- breadwinners, fathers, mothers -- incarcerated for nonviolent offenses;
Law-abiding consumers of alcohol who, despite personal struggles with "adult beverages," have rejected use of the safer but forbidden cannabis;
Terminally ill or chronically pain-tormented patients who stand to benefit from freer access to a drug that, for many, has proven advantages over opioids in managing pain, enhancing appetite, and improving quality of life;
Abusers of marijuana who because of the risk and stigma attached to possession, have not had the courage or the wherewithal to get professional help;
Taxpayers who have been losing billions in tax revenues because of the myopic, moralistic attitudes implicit in prohibition;
Current, responsible consumers who would no longer be considered "criminals."
I was born and raised in California, spending the first 48 years of my life in San Diego. For the past 16 years I've called Washington State home. I love the Pacific Northwest, but for the next two months I'm a Californian again. My head and heart belong to a massive social movement that aims to restore human dignity, civil liberties, and common sense in the Golden State.
It's been said before but bears repeating: For better or worse, what germinates and blossoms in California often finds itself being lifted by prevailing winds of change and deposited in the other 49 states.
Californians have an opportunity to do what no other state has done, indeed, what no other country has accomplished. (No, pot is not legal in Amsterdam or anywhere else; it has been allowed, controlled, and regulated, not legalized).
Every American has a stake in the passage of Proposition 19.
Follow Norm Stamper on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CopsSayLegalize