Marijuana is by some estimates California's largest cash crop, bringing in more than twice the revenue of vegetables, yet we don't tax this green. Legalizing and taxing pot could provide $1.3 billion to help our hemorrhaging economy, but it might also lead to additional problems and undermine anti-drug efforts. Is this crop just cash waiting to be reaped, or is it more complicated? Come hear advocates on both sides argue the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana.
Scott Kirkland is the Chief of the El Cerrito Police Department. He is also a member of the board of directors of the California Police Chiefs Association.
Richard Lee has been working to end cannabis prohibition for 17 years. In 1992 he co-founded Legal Marijuana - The Hemp Store in Houston, Texas, one of the first hemp products retail outlets in the United States. Lee moved to Oakland in 1997 and co-founded the Hemp Research Company, supplying cannabis to the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Club and researching efficient and environmentally friendly cannabis horticulture. In 1999, he opened the Bulldog Coffeeshop, the second cannabis outlet in "Oaksterdam". In 2003 Lee founded the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance, the PAC that passed Oakland's Measure Z making private sales, cultivation, and possession of cannabis the lowest law enforcement priority and mandating that Oakland tax and regulate cannabis as soon as possible under state law.
From 2005 to 2007, Lee published the Oaksterdam News quarterly newspaper with a circulation of over 100,000. In 2007, he founded the first cannabis college in the United States, Oaksterdam University. In 2008 he funded the startup of the monthly magazine West Coast Cannabis, current circulation 30,000. Since 2005, Lee has been serving on the City of Oakland Cannabis Regulation and Revenue Ordinance Commission, which was created after Measure Z passed with 65% of the vote 2004. He manages several other Oaksterdam companies, including the Oaksterdam Gift Shop and Nursery. His dedication to ending cannabis prohibition continues to play a crucial role in the revitalization and economic growth of Oakland.
Josh Richman covers state and federal politics for the Bay Area News Group - East Bay.
A New York City native, he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997.
He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9's "This Week in Northern California.
Dr. Schoenfeld practices psychiatry, with a specialty in psychopharmacology. His work in psychopharmacology includes the study, diagnosis, and treatment of problems related to drug abuse and addiction. Since 1983, he has served on the Advisory Board of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
Dr. Schoenfeld is a member of the court-appointed psychiatrist panels for the Superior Courts of Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, and San Francisco, CA. In 1997, the University of Miami School of Medicine selected him as a Distinguished Alumnus.
Psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld debates Police Chief Scott Kirkland over potential savings from legalizing marijuana. Schoenfeld argues that in addition to several other benefits, legalizing marijuana would save the legal system time and money, while Kirkland suggests that any proposed savings are likely exaggerated.
Scott Kirkland, Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld, and Richard Lee debate the root causes of substance abuse. Kirkland suggests that the media plays a large part in glorifying drug use, while Schoenfeld and Lee counter that legalizing marijuana would reduce its "forbidden fruit" appeal.
Indian hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) or the crude drug made of its dried and crushed leaves or flowers. The active ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Also called pot, grass, and weed, the drug has long been used as a sedative or analgesic; it was in use in China by the 3rd millennium BC and had reached Europe by AD 500. Today it is used worldwide, though it has been generally illegal at least since the International Opium Convention of 1925. Its psychological and physical effects, including mild euphoria and alterations in vision and judgment, vary with strength and amount consumed, the setting, and the user's experience. Chronic use is not physically habit-forming but may be mildly psychologically habit-forming. Marijuana has been shown to be medically therapeutic for patients with glaucoma, AIDS, and the side effects of chemotherapy; in 2001 Canada became the first country to legalize the use of marijuana by people with terminal illnesses and chronic conditions. Supporters of legalization claim that it is a more benign drug than alcohol; opponents contend that it is addictive and leads to use of more serious drugs. A resin from the plant is the source of hashish.
I say legalize it all. Everything, if you need an intervention then you will get it one way or another. I am sick of being told what I can and cant do by a bunch of scumbag politicians who are the lowest form of life themselves. I do not do any form of drugs but I have tried many of them. I choose not to do them because I decided I didn't need them. The truth is all drugs including alcohol are just band aides for deeper problems. It is like the girl who sleeps around with everyone because her father molested her. She doesn't need sex, she needs to work out her issues. Drug use is like sex for that girl. It makes the problem bearable. So, drug use is like a mini vacation from peoples troubles. Maybe they need a vacation. Eventually it will catch up to them and their lives will come crashing down around them. But maybe that is the type of catalyst they need to eventually move on and grow and become productive healthy members of society. In some cases you gotta hit the bottom before you can get up and drug use can bring you there faster. This society is already effed up what harm could legal drug use do? Maybe we'll lose some of the scum sooner, maybe we will need more law enforcement to maintain order and stop the crime. That might create jobs, there ya go Obama, there is some jobs you could create for your agenda. Legalize drugs, abolish the FED and Goldman then burn down Wall St and impeach Obama and let us be led by Ron Paul. Thats my opinion.
I'm with pureevol, you can't compare the two. Cocaine is very dangerous and the truth is marijuana is not. I can't think of anything positive that would come out of legalizing cocaine. Some may argue that legalizing it may take away the "forbidden fruit appeal"but I don't believe that since cocaine is extremely addictive. On the other hand, in regards to marijuana I can think of plenty of positives, many discussed in this video.
Orge, I completely agree that alcohol is deadly but please find me one credible report of death induced by marijuana...
I disagree with you comparison of legalized heroin to giving away guns. Legalized heroin would be more in tune to buying high-powered guns. Marijuana and alcohol are (considering your analogy) like wal-mart guns, cheap yet deadly. Heroin or Meth would be more similar to high-powered rifles that can only be bought for a very high price.
I believe the best way to deal with the drug problem is the same way we should be dealing with abortion...education and the betterment of America as a whole.
The majority of drugs addicts are at the bottom of the ladder, with little education and very poor income.
I'm all for legalizing all drugs, and let social morals direct the future of the next generations. I don't know of any government law that has proven to be affective in establishing a moral code in our society, it's the spiritual and societal laws that will advance the next generations to come. If all drugs were legal, it doesn't mean they are good, it just means you have the freedom to choose to be an addict, but if you are, you will suffer certain spiritual and societal repercussions because of it. Either way, we have to see that the way we deal with this problem is not working and it's time to start talking about a different way to approach addiction.
@Orge Of course we need a line.
Unfortunately a personal choice of becoming a drug addict often involves others who don't want to be involved. Drug use should be constrained and/or regulated by the government. Legalizing heroin would be the same as giving away guns to everybody who would like to try shooting.
Sometimes history is the best teacher. All drugs were legal at one point (not that long ago actually) and once drugs advanced through science (specifically medicine), the recreational use and abuse of drugs started to become a global problem.
It was an interesting time and a quick google search for "origin of opium" and "history of drugs" might shed some light on your questions.
Mr. Kirkland starts out the discussion on his heels with the repeated use of the term "They", I'm guessing he's referring to the rest of the responsible and thinking world? That last sentence may be construed as a literary 'low blow', but I mean it. Uncontrolled or unmanaged use of anything is a recipe for disaster. We're already bearing the social costs of the prohibition of THC. We spend BILLIONS of dollars fighting the drug trade, not to mention the billion + we spend incarcerating those participating in the drug trade. On top of all that cost is the collateral damage that the rest of us endure. Innocents caught in the crossfire. Families ripped apart by draconian laws and policies. Why did the EPA come into being? Uncontrolled and unmanaged use of environmentally dangerous products and processes... The cost of cleaning up the resultant super-fund environmental disaster sites is far greater than the cost of preventive maintenance and regulation. Ignorance is very expensive, and the tremendously ignorant prohibition approach to drug use has cost us dearly. It's time to recognize that human beings are going to use and abuse drugs. Providing some sort of managed and controlled environment for them to do it in is the way to go. Our local law enforcement agencies are evolving into paramilitary organizations so that they may attempt to keep up with the firepower of the cartels and dealer networks. If you legalize cornerstone of the drug trade (Marijuana accounts for as much as 80-90% drug traffic and profits by most estimates), you take out the kneecaps everyone in the drug trade overnight.
Let's stop the FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) approach to debating this issue, Mr. Kirkland. Let's bring some real data and numbers to the debate and come up with an informed approach to the drug issue.
And let's have a uniform approach to all drugs, understanding that they will all be used, and in some cases, abused by a subset of Human Beings. It's not bad. It's not good. It is just the way Human Beings roll, my friends. Read your history books if you don't believe me.
That's a good question...should cocaine be legal?
I mean where do we cross the line, or do we even need a line? Should the government be able to tell me what I can and cannot consume, including cocaine, heroine, ect?
I would like to see a debate about the legalization of all drugs, just to see the points.