Monday, November 1, 2010

Proposition 19

Most American ballot measures don't attract much international attention, but California's Proposition 19, which would allow the state to regulate and tax marijuana consumption, has garnered a good deal of scrutiny. Proponents of Prop 19 have argued that loosening restrictions on marijuana would help de-fang Mexico's violent drug cartels, while opponents maintain it would have little impact.

Given that America's prohibitionist policies have had international ramifications - particularly in Latin America but also in Afghanistan, where curbing the country's opium production became an important priority - it's not unreasonable to assume that relaxing those policies would likewise have consequences beyond America's borders. But there's good reason to believe that cartels, like terrorist networks, are resilient and adaptive and will find other profitable ventures if running marijuana into the U.S. becomes less lucrative. And in any event, that debate seems rather tangential to the basic question at the heart of Proposition 19: what consenting adults in a free society are or aren't allowed to do.

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