KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, held on June 16, 2010, discussed the possible legalization of marijuana for recreational use—an issue that will come up before voters on this November’s California ballot. The discussion, moderated by KPCC’s Larry Mantle, brought together the following speakers who hold views on both sides of the upcoming ballot measure:
• Hon. Jim Gray, Judge of the Superior Crt. (ret.) -- Pro Initiative
• Hon. Lee Baca, Sheriff, Los Angeles County -- Anti-Initiative
• Hon. John Russo, City Attorney, Oakland -- Pro Initiative
• Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy, Director, Drug Policy Analysis Program, UCLA -- Anti Initiative
Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy and the director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at UCLA, said that while Portugal and other countries, including the Netherlands, have allowed usage, California would be the first place to make the growth of marijuana legal. He said the vote is simply a choice between the lesser of two evils.
“I literally don’t know how I’m going to vote on the initiative,” he said. “We’ve got two appalling alternatives. We can wake up the day after Election Day, discovering that the voters even of California have decided to listen to the drug warriors one more time, and support the current drug war situation. That would be appalling. Or we could discover that the voters of California have, for the third time running, voted for a completely nonsense initiative, put together by the drug legalization movement, and that would be disgraceful.”
He called the measure a "nonsense initiative," he said, because if it were passed, California law would still conflict with federal law banning marijuana use and consumption. Anyone who paid a tax on it would be confessing to a federal felony, he said.