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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events

September 22, 2002

Welfare Potheads? 

President Ronald Reagan, much to the Left's chagrin, used to refer to welfare queens, mothers who stayed on public assistance for years and never attempted to become independent. If Arizona voters approve Proposition 203 this November, we'll have welfare potheads.

Prop 203 requires Arizona's Department of Public Safety to distribute marijuana to people who use it for medical purposes. The pot would be shipped from the University of Mississippi and held in three public buildings. Anyone with a valid registration card could come down and receive no more than two ounces of pot.

A registration card would be given to those who cite a medical need, even minors. A doctor's name, address, and phone number are required on the application, as well as other information. Those who possess the two ounces of weed for medical purposes cannot sell it, or give it to others who may sell it. They are also not subject to civil or criminal penalties for marijuana possession, if they possess just two ounces. However, if caught with more than two ounces, they can plead medical need in court.

I don't have much of an opinion on the medical need for marijuana. I know several people swear it minimizes debilitating side effects from treatments like chemotherapy, and eases the pain of cancer and other serious illnesses. Some doctors agree, others don't. It's pretty much a wash. Merely legalizing marijuana for medical purposes is a much simpler issue.

This proposition makes the state a drug dealer. It requires Arizona DPS, which should fight crimes, to engage in a federal felony - distributing grass. Worse, it forces Arizona taxpayers to fund the felony with their tax dollars. Worse than all that, though, it creates a new class of welfare dependants. Simply put, potheads want on the dole. They believe Arizona taxpayers should pay for their weed. 

We could argue the wisdom of certain policies in the proposition, but that's all beside the point. The last thing we need is another special interest group suckling at the public teat. I don't care which group it is - potheads, senior and their drugs, big corporations and their subsidies. Especially at a time when Arizona could be facing a $400 million deficit next year and a $1 billion shortfall the year after.

The proposition does do some other things. It changes possession of small amounts of weed to a civil violation with a fine. It increases penalties for drug-related violent crimes. It removes mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders. Finally, it allows the government to confiscate property from offenders who have been convicted, not from arrested suspects as happens now.

These should all be separate issues. I like the change in confiscation laws. If you are arrested for a drug crime, the government can confiscate any property you own that they think was related to the crime, even if you are innocent. In essence, the government punishes you for the arrest, before guilt or innocence is determined. This is morally reprehensible and undoubtedly unconstitutional, though the Supreme Court - to its shame - has given the practice its blessing.

If that were the only item, I'd vote for Proposition 203. The proposition's central idea - welfare for potheads - and a jumble of other issues make it too complicated and convoluted. So, if you're an Arizona voter, please vote against it, even if you approve of medical marijuana. 

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