Puff Pass or Don’t Pass?

Like it or not, marijuana is legal. But how did that come to pass? And what may happen next? Two columnists weigh in

The year 2016 marked a major change for medicinal marijuana in California.

Proposition 64 was added to the ballot, and subsequently passed, which allowed adults aged 21 years or older to possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes. This measure created two new taxes, one for cultivation of the plant, the other for retail and distribution. Prop. 64 was designed to use its tax benefits on drug research, treatment and enforcement, health and safety grants addressing marijuana, youth programs, and preventing damage to the environment from illegal marijuana production.

This very same illegal marijuana production may be the main opposition hidden within the proposition. “Illegal marijuana production” is more of a definition than something set in stone used only to deter those using the business opportunity outside of the government. Implementing a registration method, the process of cultivation to distribution has been thoroughly regulated.

The U.S. has shown, however, that the fight for legalization of marijuana has not been a smooth one. There is an estimated $50 million spent annually on the war on drugs. With so much funding and a percentage return on incarceration why would a previously schedule one labeled product be legalized now, especially in California, which was the first state to prohibit its usage in 1907.

The constant fight of citizens vs. government on this issue is a long and arduous one.

Since the Poison Act of 1907 that prohibited all marijuana use, there have been battles fought year after year for the passing of bills that slowly but surely lead to legalization. The main issue is that this fight has been fought on the terms of those originally against the plants legalization leading to legislation in Prop. 64 that uses the people’s wishes against them to further fund tax revenue and governmental control.

Many thought that the legalization of marijuana would lead to release of inmates previously incarcerated but in 2016 there were 653,249 arrests made in relation to marijuana laws and 574,641 charged for possesion. Many charged on state and local levels have seen reduced sentencing with very few being released although that number is growing through the appellate process.

Prop. 64 does not apply to the federal level and has left many behind bars for the distribution and sale of marijuana at higher quantities. Information on how many in California are serving time over this issue is not available but nationwide there were more than 3,500 charged cases in 2016.

Those facing federal time over these quantities alone were not pushing nearly as much of the plant into communities as legalization has to date. Last year, marijuana tax revenue totaled $256 million in Washington and $60 million in Oregon in the same year that Colorado brought in $200 million, according to VS Strategies.

With that being the total of tax alone, state businesses pocketed much more.


[Pro-Opinion written by Allison Ayala: https://elvaq.com/opinion/2018/05/07/puff-pass-or-dont-pass/)]

Alexander Sampson can be reached at [email protected]