Reaching adulthood during the late Eighties in San Francisco, I knew many people who did drugs. Many types of exotic and common pills and powders were used and abused in the club scene, but the one that seemed to never get abused was cannabis.
Even as I found in my early adulthood, I found myself enjoying it. The deterrent that kept me from possessing or having it for my own usage, was the fact that in possessing it we people are made to feel like criminals. The sadness of that is that when people are criminalized for an act, they then become unwanted by social standards. The reality being, many of our social pillars also use marijuana.
When I found out that the initiative to legalize and tax cannabis was on the ballot, I found myself hopeful living here in San Francisco. There are many economic reasons why I would support this measure, but I really want to focus on two main social reasons.
Reason one is that with the regulation of this product, we can now find an ability to remove dangerous scenes where this product is sold. Since the passage of Proposition 215 here in California, San Francisco has seen many medical dispensaries that have improved the quality of life for those who need the product to manage their day to day lives. It has become a haven for them, who are already weakened by a chronic condition to allow them relief without needing to put their lives in danger. A place where they feel legitimized and open with sharing how they can manage pain. Since San Francisco had taken these steps earlier, it can then be seen that should legalization happen, we are in a perfect position to offer the product to the remaining citizens who just wish to enjoy in their homes or in designated areas. Which brings me to reason two.
Reason two is more subjective than statistical. In my personal observations, I have found that I have been in the company of lawyers, care workers, judges and society people who have enjoyed using cannabis. The saddest part is that we all have felt forced underground to keep us purchasing on the street, as it were. Smoking cannabis is not a social pressure of where you must cave in, like cigarettes or alcohol. Despite the information that cannabis is a gateway drug, according to Teen Drug Abuse(1) it was found that of the 60 percent of teens who stated that they used drugs, they only used cannabis. Naturally, we do not want to have teens using. By regulating cannabis and cannabis distribution, we as a society can have a lucid discussion with teens as to why they should not use it during their teen years.
We have a duty as a society to protect freedoms and to protect our youngest citizens. We found that prohibiting alcohol only drove it underground and made it dangerous for those who would use, no matter their outlaw status. As was also mentioned in Drug War Facts(2):
“”Proponents of criminalization attribute to their preferred drug-control regime a special power to affect user behavior. Our findings cast doubt on such attributions. Despite widespread lawful availability of cannabis in Amsterdam, there were no differences between the 2 cities
“Our findings do not support claims that criminalization reduces cannabis use and that decriminalization increases cannabis use.”
As it is shown, the barring of cannabis to the public will not decrease usage, as it permitting it does not increase it. To keep all San Franciscans safe and living well, we must urge and encourage the passage of Proposition 19 this November. It will ensure a legal culture that can finally dictate acceptance and tolerance for those of us who have been living as outlaws.