Prop 64: The “Stoned” Cold Truth

On November 8th, Californians will be voting on Proposition 64, an initiative to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in our state. Not sure how to vote? Here are the facts about Prop 64 that you need to make an educated decision. 

The Basics
This initiative would legalize recreational marijuana use for those 21 years of age and older. It would also levy two new taxes, one based on cultivation, and the other on retail price. The Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation would be changed to The Bureau of Marijuana Control, and would be in charge of licensing and regulating marijuana businesses.

The Who
Only those 21 years old and above could legally use marijuana under Prop 64. Using or smoking it would be illegal while driving, when in public, and anywhere smoking tobacco is illegal. You could possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana legally, so long as you were not at a school, day care center, or youth center with children present. Individuals would be allowed to grow up to six plants in their private home, so long as it is not visible to the public and is in a locked area.

Selling marijuana for recreational use would require a state license, and it would be illegal to sell within 600 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center. Local governments could also require local licenses, but that’s dependent on the local governments themselves. 

The Money
This initiative would levy two new taxes, the first being $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves, and the second being a 15% tax on the retail price. Local governments would have the authority to add taxes to these if they want.

According to Ballotpedia, this tax revenue would first go to covering the cost of enforcing the initiative, with the remainder being divided up as follows:

  • $2 million per year to the UC San Diego Center for Medical Cannabis Research to study medical marijuana.
  • $10 million per year for 11 years for public California universities to research and evaluate the implementation and impact of Proposition 64. Researchers would make policy-change recommendations to the California Legislature and California Governor.
  • $3 million annually for five years to the Department of the California Highway Patrol for developing protocols to determine whether a vehicle driver is impaired due to marijuana consumption.
  • $10 million, increasing each year by $10 million until settling at $50 million in 2022, for grants to local health departments and community-based nonprofits supporting "job placement, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, system navigation services, legal services to address barriers to reentry, and linkages to medical care for communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies."
  • 60 percent to youth programs, including drug education, prevention, and treatment.
  • 20 percent to prevent and alleviate environmental damage from illegal marijuana producers.
  • 20 percent to programs designed to reduce driving under the influence of marijuana and a grant program designed to reduce negative impacts on health or safety resulting from the proposition. This designation keeps the money out of the pockets of politicians, and ensures that this initiative has a positive impact on our state.

The Pros
There are definitely some benefits to this initiative. Here are a few:

  • The initiative has specific regulations that keep children safe, while letting responsible adults use marijuana
  • The initiative would use a mixture of the best implementations from the states who have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana, as well as following the recommendations provided by California's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy.
  • The initiative would create tax revenue and lower law enforcement costs, giving money to afterschool programs, drug prevention education, and drug/alcohol addiction treatment, and the like.
  • The initiative would keep legislators from using this new revenue for their own projects.
  • The initiative would create an environment where marijuana is safe, supervised, and taxed.
  • The initiative would make black market drugs obsolete, lessening drug cartel activity.

The Cons
However, there are some risks to voting “yes” on this proposition:

  • The initiative may cause more car accidents and impaired driving.
  • The initiative would allow marijuana to grow fairly close (outside 600ft) to schools and parks.
  • The initiative could strengthen the black market if the price of marijuana is too high, creating more drug cartel activity
  • The initiative would let marijuana advertisements be aired, making it possible for children to see.

The Vote
What you decide to vote on Prop 64 will be dependent on a few things. If you want to use marijuana, you’ll probably vote yes. If you are worried about the effects of other people using around you, you’ll probably vote no. There are definitely pros and cons to this initiative, just like any other. Decide for yourself if the pros outweigh the cons or the other way around.

Personally, I think that this is more an issue of individual liberty. I think that as long as they aren’t endangering anyone, people should have to right to make their own decisions. This initiative has safeguards in place to protect children, and with those safeguards, I think the pros outweigh the cons. As well as personal liberty, this initiative takes advantage of something already happening to benefit afterschool programs, drug prevention education, and even rehab. In the end, I see no problem with letting people do legally what they’re currently doing illegally, so long as others are protected from any potential harm that may befall them.

Don’t forget to vote on Prop 64 November 8th. Your vote is your voice.

Follow this author on Twitter @GracePayne143

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