Proposition 64 on the Nov. 8 ballot would legalize the use of marijuana for recreation purposes. We recommend a no vote.
While California appears heading toward the legalization of marijuana beyond using it for medical purposes, Prop. 64 is wrought with problems that could greatly burden law enforcement and possibly create more issues than the laws we have today against the use and possession of marijuana.
We do not see as much a problem with making marijuana legal as we do see with trying to regulate its use. Marijuana is called “weed” for a reason. It is a weed and grows like a weed. Even those with black thumbs can grow marijuana. It is a strong plant and anyone with a back yard or a potted plant indoors can grow marijuana.
Prop. 64 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for those 21 years and older. It also would legalize the growing of up to six plants a year, with some restrictions. The bill also imposes a 15 percent tax on the sale of marijuana. It does make it illegal to smoke it in public and obviously, illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana, although there are no standards are legal ways to determine a person’s level of being under the influence of marijuana.
We see problems with all of those. First, marijuana is widely used by those under the age of 21 and Prop. 61 or not, that will not change. Also, how are authorities going to keep track if a person has six plants or 60 plants. Lastly, with it being so easy to grow marijuana, many people will continue to purchase marijuana on the street to avoid both the high cost of the “weed” sold in “legal” stores and the 15 percent tax. We see the black market only growing stronger.
Prop. 64 does have the support of some high-ranking politicians, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is already considered the frontrunner for governor in 2018. Many other politicians look at marijuana as a cash cow, believing it will create millions, maybe billions, of dollars in tax revenues which they can spend on their many pet projects. However, our understanding is legalizing marijuana has not proven to be a huge source of revenue in those states which have legalized it, for many of the same reasons we have argued against the measure.
Marijuana will be legal some day in this state, but unless the Legislature takes the time to come up with a law which will work, the initiative process will only give us laws which are poorly written and will cause more problems than they solve.
We recommend a no vote on Prop. 64 and call on the Legislature to do its job in coming up with a law legalizing marijuana that will work.