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Decriminalized Pot: How California Cured Road Rage, Cut The Gas Tax And Changed A Nation

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Seal of California

Seal of California

LOS ANGELES, California, October 8, 2016 -- It's been a whirlwind six years since California Senate Bill 1449 was signed into law by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, followed soon after by passage of Proposition 19. In that brief time, California has undergone radical change. Not plunging, as the pundits feared, into moral, legal, and economic chaos, but rising instead into a golden age of friendly streets and courteous drivers.

Within weeks after S.B. 1449 became law, the California Treasury was on its way out of the red thanks to billions in increased tax revenues on expanded prescription marijuana sales. The number of road rage incidents each day fell precipitously. Interviewed on October 24, 2010, Officer Jason Sargeant said, "It's so weird. The last few weeks we've only had 2 calls for shots fired on the 405. One was a pickup backfiring. It's like everyone just chilled out all of a sudden."

It hasn't all been smooth sailing for Californians. Productivity is down across all sectors. Average high school and college test scores have dropped, as has per-capita income. Despite these negative indicators, however, most of California's service-based economy is soaring, particularly the movie, fast food, and video game industries.

By September 2011, the gas tax was halved to popular acclaim as the State recognized the people's 44 percent reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and the concomitant reduction in road repair costs and the state's carbon dioxide footprint. California now boasts both the largest number of car owners in the United States and the lowest carbon emissions. When asked why VMT had fallen so sharply, Transportation Secretary Nell Hartwood responded, "It seems many drivers are simply forgetting where they want to go by the time they find their keys."

California's legalization of marijuana garnered national attention. Initially politicians in many states, particularly those in the Midwest and South, issued dire predictions for the fate of California's social fabric. But after witnessing the first two years of decreased crime, increased revenue, and a more malleable body politic, even the reddest of states were on board.

"California sets a model for what the rest of the country should be doing to protect our environment. Beyond that, it is a model for enhancing our national energy security by reducing dependence on foreign oil. Those states not legalizing marijuana have become a threat to not only our freedom, but to our very way of life," said Secretary of Defense Bloomhopple in February, 2013. After that speech, Congress took up the cause, and over the last two and a half years, has crafted a national solution. The bill to federally legalize marijuana, commonly known as the Puff And Take Responsibility In Our Times Act, or the New PATRIOT Act, is expected to arrive on the President's desk within the week.

When we look back on this six-year period of California's history 30, 50, or 100 years from now, will we in fact be looking at a turning point for the nation? A nation of happier, slower-paced, more ecologically efficient, and domestically tranquil citizens? From the six-year vantage point, it certainly looks that way.
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Comments (6)
  1. Lame!
     
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  2. It was cute until you said there would be low productivity and low test grades. Reminder: Carl Sagan loved to use Cannabis and I'd say he did ok.
    Nice try but scrap this version, and go back and try again.
     
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  3. I never knew it was legal in California. Where do you buy it from?
     
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  4. If cannabis users are so politically malleable, how have they been able to disrupt a multi-billion dollar War on Drugs profit making machine?
    How have they been able to flaunt a near-unanimous wall of fear-mongering politicians?
    How did they get medical marijuana in nearly 1/3 of America within 15 years?
    I think your amusing anecdote from the future is cute, but suffers greatly by relying on false, outdated stereotypes.
    Cannabis reform in the November California ballot is more popular than any politician up for election. That's not apathy. That's unbridled passion.
     
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  5. My god if this article gets any more left it will be horizontal. I will admit that decriminalizing pot has solved your problems, as you people are living in a haze and ignoring reality
     
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  6. antonio, are you an idiot? it's a totally tongue-in-cheek satirical piece. hilarious, because you actually bought into the stereotypes and exposed yourself. who is ignoring reality again?
    and this is about as lame a piece as I could imagine. Thank you for wasting my time with what I thought was going to be a humorous and insightful look into the future. Just more (dumbed-down) fear mongering.
    Did you leave out the part where you could be President or the greatest swimmer in the history of mankind? Or just about any other possible thing you could dream of, because the "lazy pothead" is an incredibly overblown stereotype?
    Awful.
     
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