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Let the Battle over the Marijuana Legalization Prop Begin

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Photo by PYTwhodgaf via LAist Featured Photos

Photo by PYTwhodgaf via LAist Featured Photos
The proposition to legalize marijuana for recreational use has not officially been placed on the 2010 ballot, but experts from both sides are already weighing in.

"The carnage in this country due to alcohol and tobacco use is enormous," Joel Hay, professor of pharmaceutical economics and policy at the University of Southern California, told Reuters. "Why we would want to increase the use of another product that creates this kind of damage is hard to fathom."

Hay also doesn't believe the revenue projections for the marijuana legalization bill introduced by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. According to a state analysis, the drug could bring in $1.4 billion.

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"I don't know that their numbers are correct. But whether it's a billion or a half billion (dollars in revenue), that number will be swamped by the cost to the state of dealing with all the consequences," Hay said.

On the other side, marijuana advocates say legalization would free up law enforcement (there were over 61,000 misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests last year) and would deal a blow to drug cartels. Add to that, the revenues generated by tourism.