More than 75 law professors have signed an open letter to California voters in support of Proposition 19, a ballot motion that would make growth and recreational use of cannabis legal for adults. It would also allow local governments to regulate marijuana usage.
The Chronicle of Higher Education identifies Georgetown's Randy Barnett, Harvard's Alan Dershowitz, and Emory's Alexander Volokh as some of the more prominent signatories.
In the letter, the professors call the current marijuana laws "wasteful and ineffective," and argue that legalizing the drug would shrink the existing black market and allow law enforcers to spend more time and resources on reducing violent crime. The letter also asserts that enforcement of marijuana laws is often a thinly veiled means of promoting structural racism.
These endorsements might lend legitimacy to student groups interested in examining drug laws, like DePaul University's Students for Cannabis Policy Reform. When this organization was ultimately denied official recognition by the University, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education stepped in, accusing officials of denying students their right to free speech.
And supporters of Prop 19 will need the help of just such student groups to further their cause. One professor who signed the letter, Steve Berenson, told Annenberg Digital News that his "guess is that [prop 19] will be narrowly defeated."
California voters will be able to vote on the proposition on Nov. 2. If passed, it will be effective starting Nov. 3.
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