SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- California religious and community leaders, who have witnessed first hand the ravages of drugs on impressionable youth as well as the homeless, sick and mentally ill, gathered today at a press conference to speak out against legalizing marijuana sales and use in California.
More than 150 members of a faith-based coalition, representing numerous faiths and religious denominations, were joined by community activists and former drug addicts and dealers to dispel the myths perpetuated by a San Francisco legislator who they contend is bent on sending society down the wrong path with a misguided piece of legislation.
Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has introduced AB 390 to legalize marijuana sales and use in California as a cure to resolving the state budget woes and reducing the overcrowded prison population. Those from the religious community say the measure is full of mistruths and ill-gotten facts.
"I know from personal experience the devastation that occurs in one's life and community as a result of drug abuse that began with marijuana," said Bishop Ron Allen, founder and president of the International Faith Based Coalition (IFBC), one of two organizers of the press conference.
To understand the damage that will be done if marijuana is legalized and taxed, Californians need only to look at already legal drugs -- alcohol and tobacco. Taxes collected from these two substances (alcohol and tobacco) pale in comparison to the social and health care costs related to their widespread use.
Opponents of legalizing marijuana point out that in 2005, California spent $19.9 billion on substance abuse and addiction or $545.09 per capita on alcohol and tobacco. However, in comparison, the State collected only $1.4 billion dollars of tax revenue or $38.69 per capita on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products. The costs far exceeded the revenue and marijuana would likely follow a similar trend.
California State Senator George Runner, Jr. (R-Antelope Valley) noted, "Encouraging the public, particularly young people, to smoke marijuana in order to increase state revenue is reprehensible."
Consider these facts:
John Redman, Executive Director of the Californians for Drug Free Youth (CADFY) said, "This is blood money, pure and simple." He pointed out, "We have a responsibility to protect our youth and communities from another carcinogenetic and addictive drug. The cost to future generations in terms of individual health, public safety and real dollars to pay for the health and social impacts will be enormous unless this ill-conceived legislation is stopped now."
Pastors, bishops, ministers, deacons, reverends and representatives of multiple religious faiths joined community activists and former drug addicts in filling the halls of California's State Capitol this morning to voice their opposition to legalizing marijuana. Sporting buttons saying "Seriously?" Christians, Muslims, Pentecostal members and non-denominational religious leaders attended the hearing and then marched around the Capitol.
Bishop Allen said those trying to legalize marijuana should take note. "We are organized and passionate. "Our more than 3,600 members around the world are committed to fighting the legalization of marijuana. We are a force to be reckoned with and we are building momentum."
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