First up: One of California's newest State Assembly members Tom Ammiano introduced a bill yesterday to legalize marijuana for recreational use, much as alcohol and tobacco are now in the U.S. The idea would be to generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion in tax revenue, as you can read in this San Francisco Chronicle article (yes, I chose that site purposefully).
Dollar and cents wise, no arguing with raising tax revenue these days. And, as long as driving under the influence and use on the job, like is now enforced with alcohol, is kept illegal with regular enforcement, I still don't have a problem with this bill.
At this point in the argument, most who support the continued ban on marijuana growing/selling, etc., will site health risks to users and the likely risk to those in the vicinity of the smoke. As a recovering alcoholic, I could use the same soap box to sermonize banning alcohol production and sales as I have never had positive experiences with alcohol. I doubt I'd last two minutes on that box before someone yells at me to chill out. Frankly, they would be right to do so.
As is the case with tobacco, if individuals prohibit use in public places and in their homes, they can just as easily avoid marijuana as they now do with tobacco. On the other end, cigar bars are still open in various places around the country with all those who enter the premises having full knowledge to what they are being exposed. I would expect marijuana bars/clubs/houses to also sprout up overnight (yes, the imagery is intentional), creating still more tax revenue (could you imagine the money made from selling users all sorts of munchies?)
I'll let the other side of this argument speak for themselves -- I just can't argue against their points.
and, speaking of changes to the environment:
File this under ironic: A satellite which was launched early this morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California failed to reach orbit and crashed into the ocean near Antarctica. What was the satellite designed to do? Measure CO2 levels in the earth's atmosphere.
Hmm, I guess these two stories don't tie in together -- I'm just pulled in all sorts of directions when I'm surfing the 'net for news.