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Legalize, Tax Marijuana?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," February 25, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Marijuana brownies, anyone? This is the worst — the people in our green room, I'm happy to say it's clear they've never been high.

I'm going to ask you what's wrong with this picture. Chicago is trying to fix $50 million budget — their budget gap by taxing car rentals in suburban areas. And now, California is talking about legalizing marijuana and taxing marijuana to solve their budget problems.

Rob Kampia is the executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

How are you doing — how are you doing, Rob?

ROB KAMPIA, MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT: Doing well.

Video: Watch Glenn's interview

BECK: All right. Do you smoke marijuana? Do you have any those marijuana's...

KAMPIA: Occasionally.

BECK: Occasionally?

KAMPIA: Yes.

BECK: It's against the law, you know.

KAMPIA: Yes. So, is speeding, a lot of people do that, also.

BECK: Wow. OK. You used to work for NORML, did you not?

KAMPIA: Yes.

BECK: Yes?

KAMPIA: Fourteen years ago.

BECK: Fourteen years ago. And is it true that you quit working with NORML because they were stoned all the time and that's all they really wanted to do was get high? They weren't serious about changing the laws?

KAMPIA: No, everyone there is very serious about changing the laws.

BECK: Really? OK.

KAMPIA: And the reason that — the reason that I left and started up the Marijuana Policy Project because I wanted to focus almost exclusively on lobbying and ballot initiatives.

BECK: OK. So, tell me because — look, I'm a libertarian. You want to legalize marijuana; you want to legalize drugs — that's fine. We have to have a different conversation in America, and that conversation is — hey, America, you know, forget about the whole health care thing, because if somebody is doing heroin, somebody is doing pot and — I mean, pot just rips your lungs up, if you want to do pot, that's great, but I ain't giving you any healthcare.

And that's good. I'd rather do that. You can be as high as you want. I ain't giving anybody healthcare. Can we have that discussion, Rob?

KAMPIA: Well, we can. But marijuana, first of all, doesn't rip up your lungs. It doesn't cause lung cancer or emphysema. So, I think that's an old wild tale.

BECK: How about heart attacks? Because — I mean, cookies, I've got cookies.

(LAUGHTER)

KAMPIA: There's no scientific evidence that associates marijuana use with an increased likelihood of death.

BECK: OK. Rob, yes, but, I mean — look, I'm just going to be straight with you, America. And this is not something I'm proud of, but I did inhale. I'm a recovering alcoholic. I did everything you could possibly do and wasn't really — I mean, there's like one actually, there's two brain cells up in my head. One is just going — breath, dummy, breath, dummy; and the other is just like scattering around, trying to figure everything out.

You can't tell me that marijuana is good for your health.

KAMPIA: Well, I mean, it is good for some people's health. I mean, you know, probably full well that marijuana is used for cancer chemotherapy treatments...

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: If you got cancer, I'm going to give you marijuana. That's OK. You got cancer, I'm going to give you marijuana.

Look, here's the thing. You want to legalize drugs, legalize drugs, but now, what we're talking about is legalizing pot, so we can make money.

The reason why I'm bringing this story to you tonight, America, is because this is — this is how it's all going to happen. Quick, panic, we're out of money! Let's sell pot!

So, why don't we have a real conversation here instead of what about an emergency spending problem?

KAMPIA: I think we should. I mean, taxing marijuana is only one good reason why marijuana prohibition should be brought to an end. There's a few other good reasons. One is — the prohibition of marijuana over the last 71 years has not actually prevented people, including you, from using marijuana. So, we know that...

BECK: Yes, oh, I agree with you.

KAMPIA: ... that this government program called "prohibition" doesn't work. Maybe after 71 years, it's time for a new approach. I'll give you one another good reason to end prohibition.

BECK: OK.

KAMPIA: And that is, currently, the police are spending an enormous amount of time on marijuana arrests — 872,000 arrests a year. That's not good for public safety; it'd be better — nationwide.

BECK: Have you ever been to New York, Rob? Have you been to New York?

KAMPIA: Sure, all the time.

BECK: Yes. I am not kidding you. I have walked down the street, and there's somebody like smoking pot next to a cop. (INAUDIBLE) I mean, you know what I'm saying?

KAMPIA: Well, I mean, there are more than 40,000 marijuana arrests in New York every year. So, I don't want a bunch of viewers to think that marijuana is essentially legal in New York, because that's certainly not the case.

BECK: No. I'm not saying that it's legal in New York. I'm sure that there are arrests, you know, if you got a big — no, seriously, if you got like a big bag of it or something, but you're telling me, you've — well, you're not a good — of course, you've seen people smoking on the street. I've seen them smoking on the streets. It's not like it's tying up for a lot of police time. Police are like — he's smoking a joint, let's move on with our life.

KAMPIA: All I can tell you is what the FBI says, which is 872,000 marijuana arrests last year, and about 750,000 of those arrests were for simple possession, personal possession. It's enormous wear and tear on the criminal justice system. And I think that anyone who cares about public safety would rather have the police freed up to deal with and prevent crimes like assault, theft, rape, murder, et cetera. I mean, that's a no-brainer. And right now, the police aren't able to deal with all the crimes that are happening across the country.

BECK: Yes. Look...

KAMPIA: So, why not take them off this marijuana nonsense?

BECK: Look, Rob, here's the thing. I have no problem — as a libertarian, I have no problem talking to you about these kinds of things. I think marijuana is bad for you. I know. I did it. Stupid — stupid to do.

However, we'll have that conversation, not the conversation that California is currently having, which is, oh, my gosh, we've got to raise some money, why don't we — why don't we just tax pot over here? Because California, the largest cash crop in California is?

KAMPIA: Marijuana.

BECK: Yes, thank you. Thank you very much.

KAMPIA: And, you know, you bring up a good point there which is that, you know, with alcohol, which isn't great for you being taxed and regulated. Tobacco, obviously, kills, that's taxed and regulated. Most products on our society are taxed and regulated.

If someone actually believes that marijuana is really bad you for, then why would you want it that product not regulated? I mean, it seems like that's exactly the kind of thing that should be regulated, right?

BECK: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

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