On Legalizing Marijuana in California
California has an initiative on the ballot this coming November to legalize marijuana. However, it's not that easy.
The basic thesis of the piece is that even if the voters of California repeal state laws against the cultivation, sale, and distribution of cannabis, there is nothing that they can do about the federal Control Substances Act.
A fascinating tidbit in the column is the following concerning the effect on the price of the black market:
According to a study issued by the RAND Corp.’s Drug Policy Research Center this month, if the initiative passes, the pretax retail price of high-grade sinsemilla marijuana sold legally in California is likely to drop to under $40 per ounce, compared with current illicit-market (or dispensary) prices of $300 an ounce and more. Yes, the counties would have authority to tax the product, but even at a tax rate of $50 an ounce — more than 100% of the pretax price — the legal California product would still be a screaming bargain by national standards, at less than one-third of current black-market prices.
At a minimum this notes the degree to which making the substance illegal makes it so lucrative and therefore appealing as a criminal enterprise.