Diane Goldstein, a former lieutenant commander in the Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County) Police Department for more than 20 years, wrote a letter to the editor this weekend that's a must read for anyone still on the fence about legalization.
Goldstein writes that regulating and taxing cannabis is "one of the best things California can do to improve public safety."
In the two states that have already taken the marijuana market from the hands of cartels and street gangs and placed it in the hands of sellers licensed and regulated by the government, the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
Colorado has seen a reduction in traffic fatalities since legalization in 2012. Denver has seen a reduction in the number of violent crimes, as police have been able to redirect their resources from low-level, nonviolent drug crimes to more serious matters.
At the same time, criminal syndicates have seen a major source of their funding dry up. Mexican cartels, known for their gruesome violence such as mass beheadings and melting enemies in vats of acid, have been particularly hard hit as consumers move to legal markets and many farmers have given up illegal production of marijuana altogether.
In addition to public safety, Goldstein notes that legalization would make our justice system more fair since the effects of prohibition fall disproportionally on minorities and youth. A recent report found that, despite representing 30 percent of California's population in the last census, 43 percent of those arrested for cannabis in the state in 2013 were Hispanic.