Could legal pot and gay marriage pull CA back from the brink?
Legalized marijuana in California is looking like it could legitimately become reality more than ever before. The New York Times is speculating that this has everything to do with a new strategy pot advocates have been employing: Make it all about the money:
Unlike previous efforts at legalization — including a failed 1972 measure in California — the 2010 campaign will not dwell on assertions of marijuana’s harmlessness or its social acceptance, but rather on cold cash.
“We need the tax money,” said Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University, a trade school for marijuana growers, in Oakland, who backed the ballot measure’s successful petition drive.
Indeed, with the gaping hole currently known as California’s budget getting bigger and more insurmountable by the day, the Golden State’s fiscal problems aren’t something that can be solved simply with Meg Whitman’s plucky Power Point mottos or Jerry Brown’s experience (both of them, as well as Whitman’s opponent Steve Poizner, say they oppose legalizing marijuana).
And yet, it seems that taking a controversial social issue and making it palatable by talking up its economic rewards is something that could easily be applied to another California clash: gay marriage. As the federal trial over Prop. 8 wends its way through the court system, efforts are under way to appeal the measure at the ballot box. Though it has proven to be a heated issue (although a new poll this week saw 50 percent approval for gay marriage for the first time), gay marriage opponents would be hard-pressed to explain away the economic benefits legalization would undoubtedly bring. Weddings, after all, involve court/license fees, cakes, clothes, food, invitations, etc. Marriage is serious business, and not just in the “till death do us part” kind of way.
Even if marijuana and gay marriage were to win at the ballot, that’s certainly no guarantee that they’d ultimately become law. The gay marriage issue is almost certainly bound to wind up at the Supreme Court; and the Justice Department could very well insist that federal law regarding pot use trumps state law. But regardless of how objectionable some voters and lawmakers find either issue, both pot and gay marriage could help the state stave off financial ruin.