Newsom: Stop Joking and Do Legalization Right

“The war on drugs has been one of the worst policy debacles in our nation’s history. We incarcerate too many people for nonviolent offenses, spend too much money doing it and ruin too many lives — especially among the poor and communities of color — all without enhancing public safety.”

Here’s more from an op-ed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom co-wrote for the San Jose Mercury News with Allen Hopper, director of criminal justice and drug policy for the ACLU of California, striking on the major themes of the commissioin they created to study legalization:

It’s time to admit that current laws do more harm than good. It’s time to explore smarter, better ways to address the challenges presented by drugs and drug addiction. At the top of the list must be a review of our outdated marijuana laws and a comprehensive study of available alternatives.

Yet too often when anyone attempts a substantive discussion about reforming marijuana laws, they are met with dismissive jokes about “stoners.” California deserves better. We need to move past these stereotypes. This is a serious policy debate for serious people with expertise from a wide array of fields relevant to and impacted by drug laws.

Marijuana legalization appears likely in California. It’s time to carefully consider how best to do it. To protect our children and our communities we have to figure out, in advance, how to make sure this transition happens safely and effectively.