National Beat Reporter
The legalization of marijuana reaches the California ballot box yet again––Proposition 64, also known as the California Legalization Initiative, will be on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2016. Voting ‘yes’ on this initiative will result in the legalization of recreational marijuana use for people over the age of 21 “under state law and allowing for sales and cultivation taxes.”
California is one of five states in the U.S. with cannabis initiatives on this year’s ballot; joining Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.
The legalization of marijuana has not been on the ballot since the 2012 election, previously known as Proposition 19 or the Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Act. The proposition was defeated, with 53.5 percent of Californians who voted ‘no’ and 46.5 percent voting ‘yes.’
The last policy move to legalize cannabis in California was Proposition 215, also known as the the Medical Marijuana Initiative, which authorized the use of medical marijuana in 1996.
The Yes on 64 campaign has been on the forefront of cannabis legalization. The highlight of the campaign is the regulations and restrictions it will impose on the marijuana industry and recreational use.
If passed, state agencies would be responsible for implementing anti-monopoly provisions to encourage a diversified, competitive market.
Taxes would be enacted on the cultivation and retail sale of cannabis. According to the Yes on 64 website, this tax revenue would “raise up to $1 billion in new tax revenues annually.” Tax revenue would be allocated to medical cannabis research, law enforcement training, health department grants and youth drug prevention.
Yes on 64 has raised over $17 million in campaign support donations from creator of Napster and previous Facebook president, Sean Parker, the non-profit Drug Policy Action, and the pot shop listing website Weedmaps.
Yes on 64 has also received endorsements from notable California newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
In a KTVU interview, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, an outspoken supporter for Prop 64, said, “It is not about celebrating a drug, it is not condoning drug abuse, it is quite the contrary.”
“It is interesting that there is silence about addressing the issues today––but what we are not silent about in [Prop 64] is specific strategies to actually make the investments in sobriety tests and with our partners at the UC system for more research,” said Newsom.
The No on 64 campaign has been the spearhead by the opposition. The cause has gained traction amongst smaller community organizations and California police forces. Other notable endorsements include the California Republican Party and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Despite its growing following, the No on 64 campaign is lagging behind in campaign funding. As of press time, $2 million has been raised, $1.4 million of which was donated by retired art professor, Julie Shauer.
One of the driving points of the ‘No’ argument is the potential normalization of marijuana amongst youth.
“Television ads promoting marijuana smoking is a huge setback for public health policy,” as stated on the No on 64 website.
“Proponents even wrote into law a provision that insures more than 95 percent of all broadcast television programming will be open to ads promoting marijuana – ads that will be seen by millions of children and adolescents.”
No on 64 also states that the proponent argument is marred by ‘fact fudging’ for lucrative motives, “the money behind Prop 64 has nothing to do with good public policy, and everything to do with making some obscenely rich people even richer.”
A recent poll conducted by the Field Poll/Institute for Governmental Studies found that 60 percent of the public intend on legalizing cannabis this upcoming election.
The support for Prop 64 has a broad voter base, including majorities across every age, region, and ethnicity.
Poll director Mark DiCamillio told The Sacramento Bee, “it does lead to the conclusion that this is likely to pass, especially compared to previous marijuana initiatives.”