PROPOSITION 19 -- MARIJUANA
Allows people 21 or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use, subject to regulation and taxation. Prohibits use in public or when minors are present. Prohibits providing marijuana to anyone under 21. Major funding support ($1.2 million) provided by S. K. Seymour, LLC (a medical cannabis provider), and Oaksterdam University.
From Joan Strasser:
Proposition 19 -- Marijuana -- YES
This proposition is very explicit in stating how marijuana will be legalized for personal use, cultivation and purchase, less explicit in stating how it will be legalized for commercial production, taxation, and purchase by wholesalers and retailers.
Because it is short on details, and complex in its enactment, some politicians, law enforcement officers and religious leaders in Alameda County, who share many Green values, oppose this proposition due to the unknown consequences of its passage. We are among those who see it as a beginning, however imperfect, however risky, of a long overdue correction of years of unjust prohibition of a drug far less harmful than alcohol or nicotine, the illegality of which has ruined the lives of countless otherwise law abiding Californians.
Particularly pernicious are present California laws which appear to minimize the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Arrest rates for marijuana possession are increasing in California. More than 60,000 arrests in 2008 are triple the number of arrests in 1990. The criminal conviction that seems like a traffic ticket is in reality far more serious. In our time of computerization, it creates an easily retrievable permanent record that precludes the convicted from obtaining financial aid for education, bank loans, rentals, or employment. This especially impacts the African-American community, as the arrest rate for young black men for small amounts of marijuana is three times the rate for young white men in many of California’s largest counties. Presently, blacks make up 7% of the state population, yet comprise 750 of 1,515 people in California prisons for marijuana charges. Government studies consistently find lower rates of marijuana use among blacks than whites.
Proposition 19 allows possession of one ounce and cultivation of 25 square feet for personal use. It legalizes use only for adults over 21 and has several articles protecting minors. It limits public consumption to licensed facilities.
The proposition allows each city or county to decide whether to license or prohibit cultivation, sales, and public consumption for adults, at what rate to tax sales, charge licensing fees, and how to punish and prohibit infractions of its rules. Limits on commercial production permitted, as opposed to personal production, are not specified, and only limited by local ordinance. Though sales to individual customers are limited to one ounce per transaction, there are no limits on frequency of transactions, or on sales to retailers or distributors. This proposition does not encourage either existing or new small growers, and we have concern that big businesses can take control of the marijuana industry, pushing out small farmers, as has agribusiness in so many other industries. However, it is doubtful that multinational corporations will enter the market in view of uncertainty as to the federal response to Prop 19.
Prop 19 explicitly permits state government to pass legislation regarding cultivation and sales. Given the complexities that city and county ordinances will doubtless create, state legislation of some sort is likely to follow passage. Whether mandated by state, county or city law, it is difficult to determine the financial benefits that will accrue from the taxation of marijuana as there are many variables to be considered. Estimates made by several studies have varied enormously. Despite these many unknowns, we welcome the passage of Prop 19 as bringing progress toward appropriate marijuana legislation in California.