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Prop 64: Adult Use of Marijuana

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Updated at 2:30 PM on Nov. 9, 2016


Prop 64 has passed by a margin of 56.0% yes to 44.0% no. It legalizes the use of recreational marijuana for adults in California.

What would Prop 64 do?

  • Prop 64 would legalize marijuana and hemp in California. Pot is already legal for medical use. This would go further and legalize it for recreational use.
  • Adults 21 or older could have up to an ounce of pot and grow up to six plants.
  • You could not consume marijuana in public or drive high.
  • You could not give any to minors.
  • There would be a 15% sales tax imposed.
  • Commercial growers would have to be licensed. They will be taxes at $9.75 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. (Medical marijuana is excluded.)
  • Packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing of cannabis would be regulated. But advertising to children is prohibited.
  • To prevent corporations from getting a monopoly, big companies would have to wait five years  to get a license. (Big tobacco has been considering getting into the pot business for years.)
  • It would also allow certain people convicted of marijuana violations to be re-sentenced and/or get their records cleared.
  • Pot shops could not be located within 600 feet of school or where children gather.  
  • Create environmental regulations for the efficient use of water and safe use of pesticides.
  • Hemp could be grown as an agricultural product and academic research.

How much revenue would it generate?

The estimated revenue from the sale and cultivation of marijuana is $1 billion or more annually.  It will also save law enforcement and our prison system money  -- about $100 million a year -- because fewer people would be prosecuted for marijuana offenses.

Where would the money go?

  • Teen drug prevention and treatment.
  • Training law enforcement to recognizes driving under the influence of pot.
  • Support economic development in communities hit hard by the prohibition on pot
  • Protect and restore the environment from the damage caused by illegal cultivation on public lands.

What are the arguments for Prop 64?

Supporters say:

  • It’s time we allow the responsible use of pot by adults; that the war on drugs is a failure and wastes resources, and allows cartels to thrive.
  • This is a civil rights issue because current laws are racially biased and put too many people of color behind bars.
  • Marijuana sales and use would be tracked controlled and regulated like alcohol.  
  • Taxing marijuana would bring in millions of much needed revenue to California.
  • It would alleviate our crowded courtroom by reducing non-violent drug offenses.

What are the arguments against Prop 64?

Opponents say:

  • Pot is really potent these days and leads to more dangerous drugs.
  • Legalizing it won’t stop the black market.
  • Big tobacco will move in and take over the marijuana business. Then use their political influence to weaken public health and safety provisions.
  • With marketing and advertising of marijuana more young people will be exposed to pot.
  • Greater marijuana smoking will lead to increases in cancer, heart attacks, strokes and long-lasting decline in brain function. The cost of these health issues were not taken into account when projecting the fiscal impact.
  • Our roads will be less safe. A study by AAA found fatal crashes involving drivers who were high doubled in the state of Washington after pot was legalized

Who is for Prop 64?

Supporters are broad and varied. They include Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome and about a dozen state lawmakers, some retired judges and police chiefs. The California Democratic Party is for it. So is the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the California Medical Association, the California NAACP, and many more organizations. The founder of Napster, Sean Parker is also a big supporter. Bernie Sanders isn’t a California resident, but he nevertheless he supports Prop 64.

Who is against it?

Much of the opposition comes from law enforcement organizations. Among them are the head of the California Police Chiefs Association and the California District Attorneys Association. The California Hospital Association, the California Teamsters Union, and the Small Growers Association are also opposed to Prop 64.

How much money has each side raised?

Has this been tried before?

Oh yes, a couple times. Back in 1972 a proposition was on the ballot that would have decriminalized the use and possession of marijuana by those 18 and older.  It was defeated by 66% of the vote.  The proposition was put on the ballot again in 2010. It was defeated again, but only by 53% of the vote. And in between those attempts in 1995 Californians approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Where do the Feds stand on this?

Federal law still classifies marijuana as a dangerous and illegal drug, but enforcement has tapered off.  When medical marijuana clinics first opened up in California many were raided and shut down by federal agents. President Obama says cracking down on pot shops is not a priority.  

Have other states passed a similar law?

Yes. Marijuana has been legalized in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.  This November there are also measures to legalize marijuana in Florida, Nevada and Maine.

To sum up…

A “YES” vote would make recreational marijuana legal for adults in California.

A “NO” vote would keep things the way they are now with only medical marijuana legal.

Click here for a cheat sheet on all the California ballot propositions.

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