Post by Randall Ryder
Next Tuesday, voters across California will cast their vote on the controversial Proposition 19. If passed, Proposition 19 would allow individuals over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and also allow them to cultivate a small amount. California was the first state to allow the use of medicinal marijuana back in 1996, so leading the charge is nothing new for the state. If passed, it will also allow each city and county to regulate and tax the drug as well.
Individuals in favor of the bill argue that it will help the state’s budget crisis—law enforcement resources can be used for more pressing issues. In theory, money would also be saved from housing defendants—jail cells would no longer be used for individuals who are legally using the drug. In addition, the state could generate large amounts of revenue in taxes from growing and selling the drug. Some estimate it could generate billions of dollars in tax revenue. Labor unions are also getting behind the bill, because if passed, it will create thousands of jobs for the unemployed.
Some argue there is almost no point to passing the bill, as California has become rather lax on enforcing current laws that prohibit the use of the drug. Currently, if an individuals is arrested for using the drug, they typically just end up paying a $100 fine.
Others argue that passing the bill will encourage more individuals to use the drug. In particular, they argue that the current prohibition prevents people from using the drug, which therefore prevents people from using other drugs. Marijuana is considered by many to be a gateway drug—people use it first and then move onto other more harmful drugs.
One argument in favor of passing the bill is in regards to financial aid. Between 2000 and 2005, over 200,000 people were denied financial aid because they been convicted of drug possession. While not all of them were convicted of possessing marijuana, many of them were. The denial of financial aid could have an enormous negative domino effect on those individuals—they could not afford to attend college, leading to more problems down the road.
The latest polls show that the voters seem to be fairly evenly split on the issue. And should the bill fail, it would not be the first time a bill with this purpose has failed to pass in California. Whatever happens, it promises to be interesting.
What do you think, is the bill a good idea?
California’s Prop 19: the end of the war on marijuana? | KALWnews.org