Legalization of Marijuana in California has been a contested topic because of its implications. This is a matter of the local government and not the federal law. As argued by John (2010) legalization of Marijuana would mean that the local government would regulate marijuana related activities which includes imposing and collection of taxes and fees associated with marijuana trade. However, the recently defeated legalization of marijuana in California has implications on the criminal justice system.
Impact on criminal justice system
The recently defeated legalization of marijuana in California has implications on the criminal justice system because it was expected that legalization would reduce overcrowding in prisons. Both violent and non violent marijuana drug offenders end up in prisons which become overcrowded, and legalization would have helped to ease the problem. As a result of the defeat of marijuana legalization, the criminal justice system continues with stringent laws on marijuana activities. As indicated by Khatapoush & Hallfors (2004, p. 751-770), prisons continue to overcrowd as people continue to break laws associated with possession and use of Marijuana. The defeat of legalization of Marijuana in California continues to strain the criminal justice system because of the large amount of cases on Marijuana possession. The government will incur great cost for maintaining the offenders in prisons and in enforcement of the drug law. Another impact on the defeat of legalization of marijuana in California on the criminal justice system is that the system will have to look for ways to contain the prisoners. Most of the prisoners convicted as a result of possession and use of marijuana expected it to be made legal. The justice system must contain them because the law remains the same on the use of marijuana.
Whether Marijuana can be legalized in California if it is against the federal Law
Marijuana can be legalized in California even if it is against the federal law. The federal government has strict national drug policy under the Justice Department. According to John (2010) the decision of the voters from California to legalize Marijuana would not affect the enforcement of federal law against marijuana in United States. The federal law has the right to enforce the anti marijuana laws anywhere in the United States but it cannot change the decision of the voters. With legalization of marijuana in California, the federal law would continue with the anti drug policy because it has the constitutional authority to enforce the laws. As stated by John (2010) the state law conducts majority of drug cases while the federal government is strict on the drug laws.
When decisions to legalize marijuana takes place, the federal government will have several options to deal with the issue because if it does not take the necessary steps, other states will seek to legalize marijuana. One of the consequences of legalization is that the state authorities will no longer cooperate with the federal government (John, 2010). The first option for the federal government is to fill the gap and have more enforcement resources in California. Another option available for the federal government is to sue California with the argument that legalization of marijuana is unconstitutional. This does not have enough legal grounds because the court does not have the right to force any state to ban drugs.
Whether anticipated tax revenue is a sufficient justification to legalize marijuana
The people who support the legalization of marijuana anticipate great tax revenue from the drug. This is not enough justification for California to legalize the drug because it is harmful and should remain illegal. The billions of revenue anticipated from the tax revenues has no comparison with the damage and the harm caused by marijuana on the people who use the drug. The harmful effects affect both the users and the people close to them.
Legalization of marijuana would increase the public safety risk because most of the health care problems associate with the use of Marijuana. The health care for the people in California outweighs the tax revenue anticipated. Some of the health care problems associated with the use of marijuana include fatal accidents caused by drugged drivers, admissions for addictions, and mental illnesses (Khatapoush, & Hallfors, 2004, Pp. 751-770). The harm caused by the drug is great compared to the benefits from the taxes and fees derived from the marijuana. The long held opinion that marijuana is harmful to the human beings and should remain illegal should not be changed for the sake of taxes. This is because not everybody in California State would benefit from the taxes collected by the state authority (Dennis, 2010, p. 9). Most of the people would receive negative effects and that is why marijuana should remain illegal in California.
What should be done with thousands of California state prisoners
Every year, California state prisons receive thousands of prisoners who violate the anti marijuana laws. Arrests related to marijuana increase every year and many of them get convicted of crimes by the courts. Most of the prisoners are serving jail terms but they have hopes that marijuana might be made legal in the near future. To deal with the state prisoners, the criminal justice system should enforce the current laws on the drug as it has been before. The prisoners should know the current situation is that the drug has not been legalized and that they are legally supposed to remain and serve their full jail term.
The future expectations of legalizing the drug should not affect the current situation of the prisoners due to the recent defeat. The law that existed at the time of conviction has not changed and that is why the thousands of prisoners in California state prisons should remain.
The recently defeated legalization of marijuana has implications on the criminal justice system. This is because the criminal system in California expected to make some changes if marijuana was legalized. One of the expectations the system had was to reduce the number of non violent criminals in prisons. California can legalize marijuana against the federal law. This is because the federal law has no right of forcing a state to maintain strict laws on the use of drugs. The anticipated tax revenue in California is not a sufficient justification to legalize marijuana. The reason behind the statement is that marijuana is harmful to the people and if legalized it will cause more harm to the people in California. Many of the users will turn into addicts and the consequences might affect the whole state. The California state prisoners should not be affected by the legalization of marijuana because the laws that convicted them have not changed.
Dennis, C. (2010). Marijuana legalization runs into trouble in California. USA Today. p. 9 Retrieved from EBSCOhost..
John, R. (2010). California Might Legalize Marijuana: What Are The Feds To Do?. [Online]. Available from http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2010/10/21/california-might-legalize-marijuana-what-are-the-feds-to-do/. Viewed on 31 August 2011.
Khatapoush, S., & Hallfors, D. (2004). “SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE”: DID MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION IN CALIFORNIA CHANGE ATTITUDES ABOUT AND USE OF MARIJUANA?. Journal of Drug Issues, 34(4), 751-770. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.