April 2, 2014

Madison votes to legalize marijuana.

It was a referendum advising the state to legalize marijuana and it passed with at 64.5% vote (and that includes the whole county, not just the City of Madison, which is more liberal than the rest of the county). It's not as though the state is close to legalizing marijuana or as though advice from Madison about what laws we'd like passed is going to have much sway in the GOP-dominated state legislature, but what the hell?

This was one of these really obscure little election days we have in Madison — school board, judges, a couple of referenda. I wasn't going to vote, but then, walking home from work, I passed right by the First Congregrational Church which had its "Polling Place" signs up. Oh! I'd forgotten about the election, but am I going to walk by my polling place?

There was a park bench outside, so I sat down and called Meade for some info about what's on the ballot, and he read me some things from the web. I'm supposed to pick between 2 school board candidates that seem completely similar?

But I knew about the marijuana referendum. I'd even encountered a little pro-marijuana rally at the Capitol on Saturday:



"Vote for Pedro." See, that's what marijuana will do to your mind. Later — I saw a pro-marijuana lady holding her sign upside down. I said, "Your sign is upside down," and she laughed. I don't know if she righted the sign, but as I kept walking, I said to Meade, "I don't know if she had it upside down on purpose." Some kind of pothead-to-pothead signaling perhaps. I do know what "Vote for Pedro" means

So, I'm sure you're wondering: Does Althouse vote to legalize marijuana? The answer is yes. It's an easy yes for me at this point because — as you know if you've been reading my marijuana posts — I loathe the legal twilight zone where some states have legalized marijuana, yet it remains a serious crime under federal law, and the feds have further muddied matters with statements about the extent to which they are not going to enforce the federal law. I see no way back from this muddiness that returns us to a clear ban on marijuana, so I think the only way to clarity is to legalize. The more states legalize, the more pressure there is to get to the only way out of the legal twilight zone.

So I cast my lot for dissipating the fog. If that means more people will befog their own minds, at least law-followers will have equal access to the product that law-flouters have felt perfectly free to imbibe. That's fair, I think.

ADDED: Meade texts me this picture and tells me he thinks that Allen Ginsberg was doing a much better job with his sign:

39 comments:

Bruce Hayden said...

Here, in CO, the process is a bit further on. We had municipal elections yesterday, with two guys running for mayor and three for the three places on the town council. I voted for the guy who called me up a couple of times, and not the guy who sent me a form letter (personalized address sticker on the envelope, and that was it for tailoring it to me). And, we had a ballot question whether to tax pot up to 5% to pay for enforcement. Apparently, they are going to allow pot stores in the strip down by the grocery store, trying to get their piece of the action, and I think they are going to keep the stores out of downtown here.

Todd said...

Not only should Marijuana be legal but most (if not all) drugs should be.

A person should be free to do anything they wish within their own home as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others and does not harm others. This does NOT include the right to interact with under age persons nor be cruel to animals.

If you want to sit at home all day and shoot up, I say go for it. If you leave the house high and get into an accident, throw the book at him. If you steal to feed your habit, throw the book at him.

Other than that, I really don't care what you do. I just don't want you to rub it in my face.

Is that so hard?

raf said...

Does the principle that law-followers should have access to practices equal to the access that law-flouters have extend to practices such as robbery? Rape? Murder? Or is there some other principle involved?

William said...

It's now clear that pot, pornography, and gay marriage will not cause the collapse of western civilization. Certain environmental regulations show great promise, however. The important thing is to keep trying.

madAsHell said...

I loathe the legal twilight zone where some states have legalized marijuana

In Washington (state), I voted no for the exact same reason.

Moose said...

So we should legalize it so we can study it and find out its not the wonder cure for male pattern baldness.

Marshal said...

So, I'm sure you're wondering: Does Althouse vote to legalize marijuana?

If we're wondering that we weren't paying attention to either the ballot or your post. Is this a test?

Ann Althouse said...

"In Washington (state), I voted no for the exact same reason."

That was then. This was now, after your state and Colorado increased the murk.

Ann Althouse said...

Think about it. We've reached the point of no return. We can stay in the murk — which is like being on drugs. I prefer clarity myself, and we can't go back. I don't like where we are now, so I think we must go forward.

tim maguire said...

If you saw a way back to full-throttle criminalization, would you support it?

(Spell check recognizes "decriminalization" but not "criminalization." It is a word, isn't it?)

Andrea Ostrov Letania said...

As drugs go, pot isn't so bad, but pot culture sure is lazy and stupid.

But legalize.

David said...

Obscure Election??

NoNoNoNo.

My daughter was elected to school board in Door County yesterday.

The dynasty begins!

The Cracker Emcee said...

Wow, I bet that was a nail-biter of an election.

garage mahal said...

The Kochs purchased some school board seats in Kenosha but other than that some good results around the state.

Jane the Actuary said...

Speculate on this: what would happen to a bill in Congress returning the issue of pot criminalization to the states? Would it pass? Would there be unintended consequences?

Leit Bart said...

Full legalization will certainly benefit DWI lawyers, that's for sure.

madAsHell said...

That was then. This was now, after your state and Colorado increased the murk.

The precedent has been set. We must follow it??
This is like a bad Star Trek episode.

This state has already seen an increase in violent home invasions with the intent of stealing pot or money from growers. I don't believe you can overlook this unintended consequence.

When Obama, and Holder are gone, then we'll see the feds rounding up the vendors. Otherwise, we become a failed state like Mexico.

madAsHell said...

Furthermore, the stuff they're smoking today is debilitating. It's not the stuff you were buying from your roommate's friend back in college.

Oclarki said...

Now that the horse is out of the barn in Washington and Colorado, what state will be next to legalize pot? I can see California, Oregon and Hawaii, but no way any state east of the Rockies does for a long time. Too many squares.

And Why do the Kochs care about some random school board in Wisconsin?

Sigivald said...

If legalization was good enough for William F. Buckley, it should be good enough for the Wisconsin GOP, right?

(I'm with Todd. Legalize all drugs now.)

Big Mike said...

On the one hand, I was aware that we were going to lose the war on drugs a long time ago. The fact that Barack Obama readily owned up to using marijuana and "a little blow" as a candidate in 2008, and got elected anyway was merely the period at the end of the sentence.

On the other hand, I'd hate to be operated on by a surgeon who's stoned, or just snorted a line of coke, every bit as much as I'd hate to be operated on by a surgeon who enters the OR drunk. I wouldn't care to be on a cross-country flight and hear the pilot come on the intercom sounding thoroughly stoned.

Can we try waiting for non-intrusive tests along the lines of the breathalyzer before we legalize everything in sight? Or is that too much like common sense for the residents of Madison?

jr565 said...

Todd wrote:
Not only should Marijuana be legal but most (if not all) drugs should be

For the first part, maybe. For the second part no way.

jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:
Ann Althouse said...

Think about it. We've reached the point of no return. We can stay in the murk — which is like being on drugs. I prefer clarity myself, and we can't go back. I don't like where we are now, so I think we must go forward.

Forward into the murk. Er, why not, if we recognize that it's murk stop the murk in its tracks?

Clyde said...

One of my co-workers and I were talking last night and he asked if I thought that marijuana should be legalized. I told him that I'm a libertarian and believe that people should be allowed to do what they want as long as they aren't harming anyone else. I added that I thought it should be a matter for the states and localities to decide, not the federal government. If some counties want to remain marijuana-free, like "dry" counties now, they should be allowed to do so. Let the local voters decide.

Then I added that I thought that it should be legalized and taxed, although not to such a ridiculous extent that most people go out of their way to get it on the black market to avoid paying the high taxes, like tobacco users in New York do, for instance.

Finally, I said that I felt that it was ridiculous (and expensive) to incarcerate people who had done nothing worse than put a harmful substance into their own bodies. Yes, marijuana is bad for you. So are alcohol, tobacco, fat, sugar, etc., but you don't see us locking people up for using them. As for other drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. -- those are bad things, and without possible medicinal effects like marijuana reportedly has. Much of the problem with them is that since they are illegal, the purchaser has no idea what kind of dosage he is getting. Legal and regulated would probably lead to fewer people overdosing than illegal and unknown.

Again, people should have the right to make their own decisions, and do what they want as long as they aren't harming anyone else. If they commit other criminal acts like robbery, etc., to support their habit, then that should be an aggravating factor in sentencing. Government's role should be advisory ("Drugs are bad! Here's why! Don't use them!") instead of punitive.

There are, however, so many wealthy, influential groups (drug cartels, law enforcement, politicians) with a vested interest in the status quo that I don't expect to see widespread legalization of anything any time soon.

Clyde said...

And yes, a hundred years from now, people will probably look back with puzzlement, the same way we look back at slavery now: "They really put people in prison just for using drugs? How barbaric!"

jr565 said...

Clyde wrote:
Much of the problem with them is that since they are illegal, the purchaser has no idea what kind of dosage he is getting. Legal and regulated would probably lead to fewer people overdosing than illegal and unknown.
Regulation opens it up to govt involvement. How are you regulating Chhrystal Meth and/or Krokodil. Is there a good version of those drugs? And wont the manufacturers of said drugs be on the hook for the things done by those drugs? And wont they cost more because govt wants its cut.
What manufacturer is going to stick his neck out to put out legalized meth, when the very act of taking meth turns you into a meth head.
Tobacco companies got sued because their drugs were carcinogens and they should have known about it. We all know that meth is bad knews for anyone taking it. Are the manufactures somehow not aware? So then how could they not be held accountable.
The very act of producting meth, almost requires that it be underground because no reputable company could survive the law suits of its customeres suffering the effects of meth.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Forward into the murk. Er, why not, if we recognize that it's murk stop the murk in its tracks?"

If we're really at the midpoint, it doesn't matter which way we go to get out. However, I think that we're much further than the midpoint, so the easiest way to resolve this is to push forward and create some sort of framework, probably similar to alcohol, to work within.

jr565 said...

Sablan wrote:
f we're really at the midpoint, it doesn't matter which way we go to get out. However, I think that we're much further than the midpoint, so the easiest way to resolve this is to push forward and create some sort of framework, probably similar to alcohol, to work within.

I don't know that we're at the midpoint yet, considering only one state prior had voted to legalize it. Lets let the kinks work out there and see the effects before going furhter down the road. And this only should apply to pot, not to all drugs.
But Althouse's argument is kind of like "Well we already put ourselves trillions in debt, might as well break the bank." Just becasuse we made a dumb choice doesn't mean we have to double down on stupidity.

Clyde said...

Let me rephrase that as "as long as they aren't harming or endangering anyone else."

Driving while intoxicated should a criminal act whether the intoxicant is alcohol or some drug that is currently illegal. Same thing for a surgeon or a pilot trying to do their jobs while impaired and endangering people. Impairment would be the problem, not the particular substance involved.

Clyde said...

@ jr565

Again, is the solution to throw the person in jail? I agree that there are no redeeming qualities to drugs like meth, but incarceration is better? It certainly isn't cheaper.

garage mahal said...

And Why do the Kochs care about some random school board in Wisconsin?

You may not be interested in the Kochs but they are interested in you.

jr565 said...

Matthew Sablan wrote:
If we're really at the midpoint, it doesn't matter which way we go to get out. However, I think that we're much further than the midpoint, so the easiest way to resolve this is to push forward and create some sort of framework, probably similar to alcohol, to work within.

Which will involve more govt in your lives. if you're an underage smoker, you can be jailed for trying to get pot illegally, and those selling it will need to card you. He looked 18. Then it will get into who can sell and regulating how much THC can be in pot. The libertarians arguing that govt should get out of the business of the drug war aren't really thinking this through.

Matthew Sablan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Clyde wrote:
Again, is the solution to throw the person in jail? I agree that there are no redeeming qualities to drugs like meth, but incarceration is better? It certainly isn't cheaper.

I think a lot of the reason people are thrwon in jail is the potential to sell. I personally would prefer that an addict get sent to rehab than jail (assuming that he would agree to go), but if he has a pound of pot on him, it's probably not for personal use.
And also, what if we send someone to rehab instead of jail, and they don't cooperate? Wouldnt that then require jail time?

Matthew Sablan said...

"The libertarians arguing that govt should get out of the business of the drug war aren't really thinking this through."

-- Being carded to buy certain products is less an intrusion on someone's freedom than sending them to jail for buying things.

jr565 said...

"- Being carded to buy certain products is less an intrusion on someone's freedom than sending them to jail for buying things."
WOuldn't those who sold to kids be fined and potentially jailed, and kids who tried to buy illegally similarlyi fined? Govt will still be involved in punishing people who aren't buying drugs properly.

Matthew Sablan said...

"WOuldn't those who sold to kids be fined and potentially jailed, and kids who tried to buy illegally similarlyi fined?"

-- Yes. Because kids are an exception and receive an extra layer of government protection because that's right. Just like a 10-year old can't buy a handgun. Some restrictions actually make sense, that would be one of then.

heyboom said...

Yay, we're coming to that day when not only do I need to worry about the hungover guy sitting next to me in the cockpit, but now the buzzed or stoned guy too.

But yeah, marijuana isn't that bad.

chickenlittle said...

garage mahal said...

You may not be interested in the Kochs but they are interested in you.

Garage has Stage 3 Koch Derangement Syndrome (KDS).

His WDS is terminal. It's inoperative even though he's an operative.