Among the ballot initiatives that California will decide is one that will legalize marijuana, Prop 19.

“Why NOW,” you ask?

Let me count the ways. This is a state that is teetering on the precipice of fiscal collapse, mired in an intractable recession, losing business and jobs to other states and countries while its one-party legislature clings to its drug of choice (borrowing in order to spend) to the very end.

Enter the ever tireless, ever confused advocates for ganja legalization with a “fresh” argument: Cannabis sales and consumption will be a brand new market that can be taxed (a new stream of drug revenue to help prolong the legislature’s own addiction).

What could be better?

California ranks 49th in employment – put another way, California has the bleak distinction of having risen to the top of the barrel in unemployment, hovering at about 14% joblessness.

Twenty eight states have unemployment rates below 9%. All of them are better at attracting new businesses than California.

There is no credible humanitarian argument for pot legalization in the Golden State. Medical marijuana sales are robust. As a former public defender, I keenly remember when marijuana possession for personal use became de facto legal. Decades ago, the possession of small amounts of grass for personal use became a misdemeanor for which no jail term could be imposed. It was a clever move: The misdemeanor status guaranteed that the accused could have a jury trial with an appointed lawyer, while the stakes for the prosecution were reduced to getting a fine, the public benefits of which were overmatched by court costs. There were no pot jury trials for personal possession.

Let’s leave aside the conflict between state and federal laws that would emerge if California legalizes marijuana sales in order to tax them. Let’s also leave aside the various social and libertarian arguments about drug use, the culture and the criminal law (my post-libertarian, neo-conservative position – focusing on the harder drugs – is posted at < >).

Does pot legalization in the Golden State make any economic sense whatsoever?

A confession: I am a former pipe smoker. I love second hand tobacco smoke, provided it comes from a fine cigar or top flight pipe tobacco. In my youth, I have consorted with members of the pot-toking set, spending time in the midst of second hand marijuana smoke at parties attended by otherwise intelligent people, some of whom later joined the political elite. I hate the smell of burning marijuana.

Moreover, I can report that those jolly souls who are under the influence of cannabis suffer from an inflated sense of cleverness coupled with a painfully apparent loss of cognitive function.

Moderate alcohol indulgence can unleash one’s inner poet. Any significant marijuana indulgence unleashes one’s inner idiot.

No employer worth his or her startup money will hire a pot-using workforce. Leave aside the undisputed medical evidence that marijuana smoking is even more carcinogenic than tobacco smoking (BTW, nicotine actually enhances concentration and cognitive function). Pot – dare I say it? – induces idiocy.

Jobs follow intelligent and reliable workforces and business-friendly environments. This isn’t rocket science. Any revenue trickle from a marijuana tax will be overmatched by the continued flight of the business community from the former Golden State to saner cultural and fiscal environments.


Jay B Gaskill is a California lawyer who served as the Alameda County Public defender before her left his “life of crime” to devote full time to writing. His profile is posted at .

Books by Jay B Gaskill currently available:

The Lost Souls Coffee Shop is an allegory for the human condition.

The Stranded Ones is a near-future novel about a potential Armageddon-scale “immigration” problem. Hint: They’re not from around here.

Both books are sold as e-books by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ireadiwrite Publishing and 10 other on-line book retailers. To locate a vendor, Google “Jay B Gaskill” and the book’s title.

Two ***** Reviews of “The Stranded Ones” are available on Amazon at –

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