I sent Senator Benoit a suggestion that, especially considering California's desperate need for tax revenue, he ought to vote to legalize marijuana and then tax it. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response from either him or one of his staffers, although it seems pretty well addressed to my original letter. My response to his argument is that A, I'm not sure it really is a gateway drug. And that even were it to be, the real gateway drug is social inequity that allows kids to turn to drugs in the first place instead of more successful endeavors. Which, ironically, my vision for social programs (such as education, counseling or teen centers) paid for by a marijuana tax would end up paying for. If marijuana was the real cause of teen failure to succeed, it would be a zero sum game. But it obviously isn't.
Thank you for your correspondence expressing support for Assembly Bill 390 (Ammiano), which would legalize the possession, sale, and cultivation of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and would set up a wholesale and retail marijuana sales regulation program.
While I appreciate your point of view, I cannot in good conscience support this legislation because I do not believe in the decriminalization of marijuana. It is a gateway drug and encouraging its use would only lead to more people trying and abusing harder and more dangerous drugs.
Additionally, your argument that there would be tax revenue generated from the sale of marijuana may be true but the amount of revenue raised would not necessarily offset the cost to society. Indeed, the same argument could be made about many currently illegal activities, but legalizing them would not mean those activities would be good for society as a whole.
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. While we do not agree on the merits of this bill, please do not hesitate to contact me in the future regarding other legislative issues of concern to you. It is an honor to serve you in the California State Senate.
JOHN J. BENOIT
Senator, 37th District