Arnold: Time to discuss marijuana legalization, even though I oppose it

Talk about mixed messages! California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says it’s time to discuss marijuana legalization in California.  Then he says he opposes legalization.  The Governator then suggests that the state could realize some tasty revenues from a marijuana tax — but then says revenues shouldn’t be the motivator.

You may need a joint for the pain from whiplash on this one:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says California should study other nations’ experiences in legalizing and taxing marijuana, although he is not supporting the idea.

He says it’s time to debate proposals such as a bill introduced in the Legislature earlier this year that would treat marijuana like alcohol. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, says taxing marijuana at $50 per ounce would bring more than $1 billion a year to the state.

Schwarzenegger said during a Tuesday news conference that “it’s time for debate” on the idea. But he warned against making harmful decisions just for the sake of raising money.

Is the notion really so radioactive that Schwarzenegger has to do this dance just to raise the possibility?  We used to tweak John Kerry for his flip-flops, but this makes Kerry look practically Churchillian in comparison.  It’s akin to a politician picking plaid as his favorite color.

There is nothing wrong with considering potential revenues in a debate over legalization, and that isn’t the only economic factor that should be considered.  How much does California spend on enforcing marijuana prohibition?  Has medical-marijuana legalization, conducted in a particularly lax manner, resulted in escalating crime and dependency and marijuana-related deaths, or just less hassle and less infringement on civil liberties?  Maybe the governor of the state could focus on producing answers to those questions.