- Marijuana has a wider range of therapeutic applications than legal drugs like alcohol or tobacco, it has low addictive potential (unlike alcohol and tobacco), and it's one of the safest drugs known to man, literally impossible to overdose on, with virtually zero potential to cause cancer, neurological damage, allergic reactions, and so on. There is literally no good reason for such a beneficial plant to be criminalized, and I think unnecessary laws are stupid and harmful, so for this reason alone I'd favor Prop 19.
- Mexico is being ripped apart right now by drug cartels funded by drug money coming from the United States. Literally over half of the cartel funds come from sales of marijuana. Legalize marijuana, and you literally bankrupt the cartels. I am a Mexican-American resident of the border with dual citizenship. I have family in Mexico and have personally lost close friends to cartel violence (and have also helped file asylum petitions for individuals fleeing the violence). As a humanitarian issue, there is nothing more important in the United States and Mexico than reducing the drug violence that stems from drug prohibition. Further, it's a national security issue: much of the nasty stuff you hear about on the border is cartel-funded, much of the rest is cartel-related, and it is indeed often as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. Again, even if marijuana were a horrible and dangerous drug, I would vote to have it legal and regulated solely on the basis of how many lives it would save from rape, terror, and murder.
- Our prison populations are overflowing. Much of that overflow consists of nonviolent drug offenders who've done nothing more than using marijuana recreationally, and/or selling marijuana to other recreational users. It is costing taxpayers an arm and a leg to keep a lot of decent people locked up away from their jobs, friends, and families. That's criminal, no pun intended. There is no reason that a guy who smokes marijuana with his buddies on the weekend should be put behind bars for 5-10 years at taxpayer expense. It's madness, and it's inhumane. This to me is a grave human rights issue, even putting aside the burden on the taxpayers.
- As a social libertarian, I strongly believe that people should have the right to make their own decisions as long as they don't hurt anybody else. I have no problem with a man drinking alcohol in the privacy of his own home, or even getting drunk; that's his business, not mine. If he then goes and beats his wife, though, THEN I have a big problem and he needs to be punished severely. Same goes for marijuana -- as long as users of marijuana aren't hurting anybody, what consenting adults do behind responsibly closed doors is not my affair.
- The War on Drugs has failed. Depending whether you're looking at state or federal statistics, we are incarcerating three to seven times as many people for drug-related offenses as before the War started. Over 50% of the DEA's budget is devoted to anti-marijuana enforcement. In short, the War on Drugs costs taxpayers billions of dollars and ruins thousands of lives each year -- for what? Marijuana is still profitable. It is still readily available in every major metropolitan area, and also in most smaller cities as well. Rates of marijuana usage among youth are on steady increase despite the best efforts of campaigns like DARE. There is no reason we as American taxpayers should be footing the bill for a massive federal agency that has spent tens of billions and wrecked thousands of lives while giving our society no positive results even by its own standards. The money we're spending on anti-marijuana enforcement at the state and federal level would be much better served either in taxpayer pockets, or else diverted to more serious law enforcement issues, like counter-terrorism.
- Marijuana is America's number one cash crop. Since I value responsible fiscal policy, I favor legalizing and taxing marijuana in order to have an additional revenue stream in these tough economic times.
Legalizing marijuana will create a legitimate industry dedicated to its production, distribution, and sale. This expands the economic pie and helps create jobs and economic opportunity, again helpful in these hard times. And remember, marijuana has a variety of commercial applications besides simply as a drug -- you can use the marijuana plant to manufacture everything from plastic to fuel to t-shirts.
- Finally, having used marijuana in the past, I have a great respect for it not only for its many medical applications, but also as a recreational -- dare I say sacramental? -- experience. In many cases it expands creativity and consciousness, lowers anxiety and stress, and is simply a safe way to make life a little more beautiful and captivating every now and again. In the words of Carl Sagan: "The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world."
In short, criminalizing marijuana costs a ton of money, hurts a ton of people, incentivizes global cartel violence, and deprives people of marijuana's medical, recreational, and industrial applications -- while on the flip side, legalization creates jobs, increases tax revenues, cuts the size of government, improves the efficiency of government, renders the cartels impotent, saves lives, and lets people have richer life experiences. Legalization is the biggest no-brainer in the history of mankind.