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Debating the Decriminalization of Marijuana

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As Democratic State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano's bill to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana makes its way through state committee (it could take a year before politicians vote on it), the debate rolls on about how the vote should go.

"The last thing we need is yet another mind-altering substance to be legalized," said John Lovell, lobbyist for the California Peace Officers' Association, to Reuters. "We have enough problems with alcohol and abuse of pharmaceutical products: do we really need to add yet another mind-altering substance to the array?"

Joel W. Hay, professor of Pharmaceutical Economics at USC, also is not a fan: "Marijuana is a drug that clouds people's judgment. It affects their ability to concentrate and react and it certainly has impacts on third parties... There are probably some responsible people who can handle marijuana but there are lots of people who can't, and it has an enormous negative impact on them, their family and loved ones."

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But retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray has a way different take. "We couldn't make this drug any more available if we tried," he said. "Not only do we have those problems, along with glamorizing it by making it illegal, but we also have the crime and corruption that go along with it. Unfortunately, every society in the history of mankind has had some form of mind-altering, sometimes addictive substances to use, to misuse, abuse or get addicted to. Get used to it. They're here to stay. So, let's try to reduce those harms and right now we couldn't do it worse if we tried."

Photo by Neeta Linda via Flickr