Last week California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed a bill that decriminalizes the possession of marijuana as a misdemeanor offense. Instead of the mandatory fine of $100 as well as the mandatory appearance in front of a judge, the outcome of being caught with marijuana will now simply be a $100 fine. However, this is just a small step for Californians who’ll finally get to decide this November if they want vote on Proposition 19, a bill that completely legalizes marijuana.
What are the benefits of legalization? Well for one, the government can generate billions of dollars in revenue by taxing the sale of it. Additionally, legalization will guarantee greater control over who can buy the substance (only those over 21). It would also put police priorities straight and allow them to focus their attention toward preventing more dangerous crimes.
According to USF’s annual crime report statistics released by Public Safety, on-campus drug abuse violations increased enormously from 66 write ups in 2008 to 393 in 2009, an increase of 327 infringements. In comparison, drinking violations at the university decreased from 262 to 184. Currently, it is easier for students to get cannabis than for them to get alcohol.
With Proposition 19 on the ballot for voters in November, USF is left with some serious questions about how they’re going to handle drug violations for this new substance. Since marijuana would be at par with alcohol, would it be a violation for a student to take their medication on a “no smoking campus” or would students have to go to the sidewalks? What if a student ate special brownies while in their dorm room? Would students be allowed to cook edibles in the school’s kitchen so long as they are 21?
All of these questions and many more will be answered in the next few weeks as California’s citizens contemplate whether a plant—which has never caused a single death in recorded history—is at par with alcohol, a drug that causes over 30,000 deaths per year in the United States alone.
Kevin Kunze is a senior media studies major
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