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Mar. 26 2010 - 11:37 am | 1,508 views | 0 recommendations | 10 comments

Could legal pot and gay marriage pull CA back from the brink?

Armstrong Legalize Marijuana

Image by Editor B via Flickr

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.


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  1. collapse expand

    Another factor: would legalizing marijuana cause an increase in tourism and even residency (upping the tax base)in CA? Would people consider moving to CA just because of the legalization? I think they might.

  2. collapse expand

    Finally, after that insidious insurance law, somebody is making sense again. If I could unload this condo in Chicago, I’d move out to L.A. in a New York minute. Swimmin’ pools, movie stars! And lots of pot! And then I’d marry some nice old codger to pay for it all.

  3. collapse expand

    The reason for pot and gay marriage is also the reason to be against them:

    do you really want to give more money to the bastards who have run the state into the ground, the elected officials and greedy public employees?

    less money is better….these bastards will never have enough money….even if you turneveryone in the state, man, women and children into taxpaying opium addicts……

    you could double the state budget with new taxes….and in a few years they would be back for more…..

  4. collapse expand

    Opponents of gay marriage enjoy touting the fact that activists for marriage equality lost in 31 states; what these opponents do not point out, however, is the other side of the coin. In the space of a decade, five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire) have legalized full gay marriage; another five states (California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and New Jersey) have created statutory frameworks which grant to gay couples in those states all of the substantive legal rights, benefits, and privileges of marriage, but not the designation; and at least four other states (Colorado, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and Maryland) now grant to gay couples a limited subset of the rights of marriage. In addition, both Maryland and New York recognize gay marriages solemnized in jurisdictions where such marriages are legal. In other words, the number of states which recognize gay relationships statewide, up to and including full marriage, jumped from zero to 16 within the space of 10 years. As Libby points out, opposition to gay marriage continues to plummet; according to the Pew Research Center, opposition to gay marriage was at is highest (64%) immediately following the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts by order of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003)); today, a bare majority of Californians are in favour of gay marriage, with a similarly larger percentage of the general population nationwide accepting gay marriage. Opposition to gay marriage is definitely generational, with older persons being more likely to oppose gay marriage than are younger persons; furthermore, longitudinal studies confirm that younger people do not become significantly more anti-gay as they grow older.

    Every defeat for gay marriage has been by a smaller margin than the previous defeat. In the face of these observations, it takes nothing less than an act of wilful blindness to believe that gay marriage will never become legal throughout the US.

    The arguments against gay marriage remain stubbornly circular, tautological, and conclusory – gay persons should never be permitted to marry because marriage is between a man and a woman. Those who oppose gay marriage attempt to convert the complaint into its own disposition using this circular and redundant argument; this is something which the law simply does not permit.

    In the three states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa) in which the state high courts mandated the recognition of gay marriage, the state supreme courts held that the denial of marriage licenses to gay persons violated the equal protection guarantees of the respective state constitutions. A similar argument implicating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has been heard by Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the US District Court in San Francisco, who will soon hear closing arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (in which Proposition 8 itself is on trial); a victory for marriage equality is expected at the trial court level, although the outcome on appeal is far from certain. What is certain, however, is that the increased acceptance of gay marriage does not appear to have peaked; such acceptance continues to climb, year after year. It is no longer a question of whether or not gay marriage will be legalized nationwide, but when such legalization can be expected.

    May that day not be long in coming…


  5. collapse expand

    I just don’t understand this approach. Grovelling up to politicians and offering tribute in exchange for their permission to engage in what is essentially adult activity.
    Hasn’t the drug war demonstrated clearly enough that these sub-human politicians will spend the tax revenues on very dubious ventures.
    Why should anyone trust them now?
    I’ve got a better idea. Let these creepy politicians get real jobs and I’ll just keep my money.

  6. collapse expand

    I have to admit that I have no faith in any politician who believes in the “war on drugs” — which, far from being a war on drugs, is a war on persons who use drugs. I am sick and tired of reading about good doctors put on trial for using powerful painkillers to assuage the pain of patients suffering from chronic, long-term conditions. The “war on drugs” has invaded the sphere of medical pain management, as is well known to individuals such as Dr. Howard Hurwitz, who was thrown into prison after prescribing drugs such as OxyContin to numerous patients who had legitimate medical needs for these drugs.

    I know whereof I speak — I suffer from Marfan syndrome, and have been treated with medications such as morphine and oxycodone since 1995. I found a good doctor in New York City who did not hesitate to prescribe oxycodone and hydrocodone for the relief of chronic pain caused by degeneration of the spinal vertebrae. Fortunately, the NHS in the UK (where I am currently on business) has provided me with outstanding care, also using oxycodone, codeine, and morphine. However, I dread the day I return to the US and have to find another pain management specialist (my New York doctor has retired). I do not know whether I will be able to find another doctor who is as enlightened and as sympathetic as my doctors here in the UK, or as my old doctor in New York City.

    The “war on drugs” has been a monstrous failure, resulting in the ruin of countless lives and the incarceration of literally millions of non-violent “offenders” – many of whom have been given stiff prison sentences for using drugs such as marijuana. Pouring more money into this “war” is analogous to pouring gasoline on an open flame.


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    I'm a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focusing on pop and politics, race and culture, and where Gen-Yers fit into it all. My writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, WashingtonPost.com, the San Francisco Chronicle and People magazine. Among other things, I'm Oregon-born, hip-hop-addicted, and weirdly optimistic that the journalism business will stay alive.

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