California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act – Will it Pass This Time Around?
This November, registered California voters will decide whether or not to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), aka Prop 64, received official clearance in June from the Secretary of State’s office after the initiative surpassed the 600,000 signatures required to make the upcoming ballot.
In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, although Californians voted against similar measures in 1972 and again in 2010. The pro-pot lobby, however, suggests it’s different this time.
Based on high-profile support and money raised, the odds appear in their favor. At least one poll suggests 60 percent of registered state residents will vote yes for legalization. And unlike in 2010, this is a presidential election year, meaning younger voters will turn out in full force.
“Creating a legal, responsible and regulated framework for marijuana is a predominant civil rights issue and it’s long overdue,” said Alice Huffman, president of the NAACP’s California chapter, to the Marijuana Policy Project of California. She added, “The current system is counterproductive, financially wasteful and racially biased…”
The California Medical Association (CMA), Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have also endorsed AUMA. Though not as well funded or visible as in years past, there is still considerable resistance to the proposed legislation.
If passed, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will…
- Allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants
- License and regulate industry manufacturers, distributors and retailers through the Department of Consumer Affairs
- Provide rules for labeling, packaging, testing, advertising and tracking marijuana
- Levy an almost $10 cultivation tax per one ounce of marijuana flowers and a 15 percent sales tax
- Earmark proceeds from tax revenue to be spent on youth substance abuse treatment, education and prevention
- Prohibit marketing, advertising and selling of marijuana to minors
- Specify that driving under the influence and public consumption of marijuana will both remain illegal
- Authorize resentencing and destruction of prior conviction records
What Does the Opposition Think?
The anti-recreational camp, made up of organizations like the California Hospital Association, California Sheriffs Association and the Teamsters Union, has so far failed to raise enough money to launch a viable public awareness campaign. Nonetheless, opponents have been vocal.
Chief among their concerns is that the new initiative overturns a ban on individuals convicted of dealing heroin or methamphetamine from working in the marijuana industry. “The proponents were specifically advised by numerous law enforcement groups during the comment period about this huge flaw…” Tim Rosales, a spokesman for the opposition, told The L.A. Times. “They got it wrong. Again,” he added.
Others fear that legalization will lead to easier access for minors, an increase in drugged driving and a general decrease in overall public health. In contrast, advocates point to a greater amount of government regulation in the initiative’s language as well as the lessons learned from other states, such as Colorado and Alaska, which have successfully enacted recreational pot laws.
The trend of legalization continues build momentum. A number of other states – Maine, Massachusetts, Florida, Arkansas, Nevada, Arizona and Missouri – anticipate marijuana initiatives on their November ballots as well. While it’s difficult to argue for a failed war on drugs or that pot is any worse of a vice than alcohol, legalization will no doubt bring its own consequences; what those are remains to be seen.
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