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California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization (2016)

Copied from: https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_64,Marijuana_Legalization(2016)

Initiative design

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in California, but recreational marijuana is not legal. Proposition 64 was designed to legalize recreational marijuana and hemp under state law and enact a 15 percent sales tax as well as a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves, with exceptions for qualifying medical marijuana sales and cultivation. The initiative was also designed to prevent licenses for corporate or large-scale marijuana businesses for five years in order to deter the “unreasonable restraints on competition by creation or maintenance of unlawful monopoly power.” Other provisions relate to rights of employers, driving under the influence, and marijuana business locations.[1]

Current state of marijuana in California

In 1996, California became the first state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana when voters approved Proposition 215, and in 2010, voters were given the chance to vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana with the appearance of Proposition 19. The measure was defeated. California voters were first presented with a marijuana-related ballot measure in 1972, when Proposition 19 appeared on the ballot. The measure would have decriminalized marijuana use and possession for people 18 years of age or older upon voter approval.

State of the ballot measure campaigns

The support campaign for Proposition 64 was first launched in May 2016.[2] Major organizations and elected officials expressed support for Proposition 64, and the support campaign has raised over $11,000,000 as of September 1, 2016.

The opposition campaign for Proposition 64 first launched in February 2016. Major organizations and local governments expressed opposition to Proposition 64, and the opposition campaign has raised more than $200,000 as of September 1, 2016.

This is a pretty solid measure, and I’ve been a proponent of marijuana legalization for some time. I’ll list the flaws pointed out by those opposed, and will comment after:

Flaws in Prop 64, per the voter’s guide

Flaw #1: Doubling of highway fatalities.

The AAA Foundation for Highway Safety reports that deaths in marijuana-related car crashes have doubled since the State of Washington approved legalization. Yet, incredibly, Proposition 64’s proponents refused to include a DUI standard for marijuana, making it extremely difficult to keep impaired drivers off our highways.

Flaw #2: Allows marijuana growing near schools and parks.

Proposition 64 actually forbid’s local governments from banning indoor residential growing of marijuana – even next door to an elementary school — provided the crop is limited to six plants, (and that is a lot of marijuana). The California Police Chiefs Association adds that “by permitting indoor cultivation of marijuana literally next door to elementary schools and playgrounds, Proposition 64 is trampling local control.”

Flaw #3: Will increase, not decrease black market and drug cartel activity.

“Organized crime filings have skyrocketed in Colorado since marijuana legalization,” says Past President of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police John Jackson." We had 1 filing in 2007 and by 2015, we had 40. Since your Proposition 64 repeals the prohibition on heroin and meth dealers with felony convictions getting into the legal marijuana business, it could be much worse in California."

Flaw #4: Rolls back the total prohibition of smoking ads on TV.

Tobacco ads have been banned from television for decades, but Proposition 64 will allow marijuana smoking ads in prime time, and on programs with millions of children and teenage viewers.

Flaw #5: Proposition 64 is an all-out assault on underprivileged neighborhoods already reeling from alcohol and drug addiction problems.

Bishop Ron Allen of the International Faith Based Coalition representing 5,000 inner-city churches calls Proposition 64 an “attack on minorities” and asks “Why are there no limits on the number of pot shops that can be opened in poor neighborhoods? We will now have a string of pot shops to go with the two liquor stores on every block, but we still can’t get a grocery store. Proposition 64 will make every parent’s job tougher.”

maiki’s thoughts

Flaw #1 is definitely a concern, but it isn’t as straightforward as the study in question would present. The problem with having a “DUI standard” is that marijuana can’t be tested the same way blood alcohol levels are. Given the way blood samples are taken, and how active chemicals in weed linger in different metabolisms, there isn’t a clear cut method for determining if a person’s was influenced by marijuana while driving.

Searching for a story about the study I found an article by Automotive Fleet, which I imagine is a fairly non-partisan outfit. Then I came upon an earlier piece by the Washington Post, which points out the highway-fatalities in Colorado have reached historic lows since legalization.

I’ve also read cursory notes on the AAA Foundation study, saying it is problematic, but I can’t find a non-partisan review of why it is. I like stats, and if numbers show there is a public safety concern, I’d like to hear about it.

Personally, I’d rather pass laws that make it more difficult to drive than keep weed illegal. I used to work at a bicycle coalition, and have strong biases against “car culture”. At the same time, I’ve never operated a vehicle the same day I used a controlled substance, intentionally. So for this issue to be relevant I’d need to see solid proof of public safety being threatened by legalization.

Flaw #2 doesn’t concern me at all. I don’t care if weed is being grown next to schools, any more than hops or other components in liquor. I am more concerned about candy and soda being sold near by, because those present health risks to children. And the key is “indoor cultivation”. There are all kinds of things I wouldn’t want to happen near children on a visceral level, but what happens indoors is deeply private and protected in this country.

Flaw #3 is difficult for me to wrap my head around, because organized crime isn’t a clear cut science that policing organizations understand and can draw predictive data from. It is also not clear that the prop, “repeals the prohibition on heroin and meth dealers with felony convictions getting into the legal marijuana business”. It does prohibit a licensee from having, “A felony conviction for drug trafficking with enhancements pursuant to Sections 113 70. 4 or 11379.8.” But I don’t know what “drug trafficking” is, compared to say selling it…

But it doesn’t matter, because heroin and meth dealers are not an evil sub-class of human drug dealers. And black-market activity doesn’t mean violent crime, which is an actual concern of mine. Tax-evasion sounds like an IRS problem, and while the revenue from taxing weed will certainly be useful, I don’t think the off-chance of a black market developing even more than it already does is cause for concern, even if we had some, um, numbers to go by.

For Flaw #4 let’s look at the actual text:

(a) All advertisements and marketing shall accurately and legibly identify the licensee responsible for its content.
(b) Any advertising or marketing placed in broadcast, cable, radio, print and digital communications shall only be displayed where at least 71. 6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older, as determined by reliable, up-to-date audience composition data.
© Any advertising or marketing involving direct, individualized communication or dialogue controlled by the licensee shall utilize a method of age affirmation to verify that the recipient is 21 years of age or older prior to engaging in such communication or dialogue controlled by the licensee. For purposes of this section, such method of age affirmation may include user confirmation, birth date disclosure, or other similar registration method.
(d) All advertising shall be truthful and appropriately substantiated.

Children and teens are definitely going to see ads for weed on TV. We should ban ads on TV, and elsewhere. Children should never see an ad. Ads help create gendered stereotypes. So many reasons to not have ads. Keeping weed off TV isn’t near the top of that list.

Flaw #5 is an issue to be sure, but it is about systemic and generational racist policies. One of those policies is the persecution of black men using draconian and arbitrarily-enforced drug laws. Do we want more grocery stores and businesses that fill in food deserts and complete nutrition for poor neighborhoods? Of course. This doesn’t prevent that, and I am not even sure prop 64 supersedes local quotas on the number of businesses that sell marijuana products (please fill in my ignorance on that point).

At any rate, unless the International Faith Based Coalition has evidence that legalization will dictate how businesses serve neighborhoods, I am not convinced that prop 64 is making “every parent’s job tougher.”


Okay, there are my thoughts in support of Proposition 64. If I have the energy I might go through the arguments for and weigh in, but I thought it was more important to assert opinions about the opposition so they can be debated and clarified. So please break them down and give me more information. :slight_smile:

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Excellent analysis. Some tangents:

  • Highway deaths 1: Speaking of Washington state (embarrassingly named after a slave owner and violent revolutionary; should be renamed), the best way to prevent car crashes to to drive less. There’s a decades-late initiative in Washington state that will help: https://ballotpedia.org/Washington_Carbon_Emission_Tax_and_Sales_Tax_Reduction,Initiative_732(2016) … I’m tempted to say this is the most important U.S. state initiative this cycle.
  • Highway deaths 2: I couldn’t argue against banning anyone consuming alcohol or marijuana from driving, in service of creating a larger constituency of non-drivers and towards banning all human drivers.
  • Bans on x happening near schools are unjustified based on one simple observation: kids’ parents are doing x in their homes.
  • Lots of drug shops could make parents’ lives easier, if there is not some arbitrarily high age requirement for working in them. Opportunities for youth in the formal sector are much needed.
  • I’m less a fan of banning ads than I am of taxing them. Just like drugs. And tangentially, making them public domain/non-property/not subject to copyright and patents respectively.
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Considering how the branches of government turned out, let’s be happy that Prop 64 passed!

Yikes. Medical or legalization initiatives passed in 8 of 9 states they were on the ballot in (barely failed in AZ) and there will be many more in the next cycles assuming we still have elections by then.

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