19 Reasons to Vote Yes on Prop 19
by Letters to the Editor, November 1, 2010
Prop 19 is a regulatory approach we can live with. The purpose is to mainstream marijuana thru limited adult legalization and local control. That means cities and counties can decide their own rules regarding taxation.
The state-wide policy will be that adults can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate a 25 sq ft garden of plants. That is the floor for outright protection and no locality can lower the threshold below those minimums.
Anything over one ounce and 25 sq ft allows localities to choose whether or not to develop their own policies for regulating cultivation and sales and collecting taxes (similar to alcohol prohibition, where policies were determined locally).
The following are 19 reasons to support Prop 19, Tax Cannabis 2010.
1) The most important reason to support 19 is to break the irrational and unenforceable marijuana prohibition logjam we've lived with for 3/4 of a century, with all its injustice and inequality.
Marijuana prohibition effectively organizes crime, corruption and violence, extending back to the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (which ended prescription access).
The Marijuana War is the longest most protracted war in US history.
Prop 19 is a sea change in direction away from prohibition. The genie could never be put back into the bottle, once the benefits of legalization are experienced. A New York Times ad entitled "Appeal for a new international drug policy," signed by former public officials Joycelyn Elders, George Schultz, Willie Brown, among others, stated: "We now believe the global war on drugs is causing more harm than drug abuse itself."
2) Prop 19 protects all adults from bogus vehicle searches and bogus structure searches based on alleged smell. There must be probable cause of a crime and aroma is not grounds for a crime.
3) Prop 19 will not dilute or restrict Prop 215, the Compassionate Use Act. There is neither initiative content nor legislative intent that would allow that.
4) Prop 19 prohibits discrimination against cannabis users. Workplace policies must be applied equally.
5) Prop 19 creates a defense in court for personal use possession and cultivation, similar to Prop 215 for medical use.
6) Prop 19 would significantly reduce the disproportionate burden of the marijuana laws on the African-American community. 850,000 people are arrested annually in the US for marijuana violations, the majority for possession of small amounts. A recent study shows that cannabis arrest rates for African Americans in Los Angeles is more than 300% higher than that for whites, even though the US Dept of Health & Human Services has data showing that young blacks are less likely to use cannabis than whites. They are also more likely to suffer disproportionate sentences than whites, on top of more frequent arrests. Racism was a big factor in getting the marijuana laws passed in the first place.
Prop 19 would start the process of correcting that intolerable historical injustice. 1 out of 3 (?) African American men are caught in the clutches of law enforcement for minor drug offenses.
The government spends more on prisons than on post-secondary education, largely to lock up the poor and people of color in the drug war. Legalizing possession of one ounce will surely reduce the number of people victimized for being "black in public". That alone is worth a Yes vote.
7) Prop 19 is lined up against the entirety of law enforcement associations, the US Attorney General, virtually all politicians and leading corporations, including the alcohol, pharmaceutical and tobacco industries, which are all spending big money to prevent Prop 19s limited personal use legalization.
Why? Because cannabis is an effective medical alternative to all three.
A victory for Prop 19 will be a blow against big pharma, alchohol and tobacco as well as law enforcement's entrenched powers, with vast unlimited marijuana war resources at their disposal year after year.
8) Prop 19 would rearrange how taxpayer money is being spent to prosecute marijuana in California, which has been estimated at up to $1.9 billion.
It is also estimated that the yearly California underground market in cannabis is estimated at $14 billion and that $1.4 billion in new tax revenues annually could be generated.
The legalization movement aims to redirect the flow of these dollars from violent drug cartels to government coffers to stabilize local economies and prevent economic collapse.
478 cities and 58 California counties need the annual sustainable revenue stream marijuana legalization would provide.
Only amounts over the minimum would be subject to tax.
9) Prop 19 would be a huge gain for vast numbers of marijuana users,
who would no longer have to fear being victimized by having small amounts on their person or in their garden.
Anything under an ounce or a garden within 25 sq ft would be legal. No crime. No infraction. No penalty. No ticket. No violation. No nada. The beginning of a new start.
10) Prop 19 allows localities to develop their own policies that respond to local concerns for regulating cultivation, sales and taxes, as long as it is above the 25 sq ft minimum.
According to the Orange County Register which editorially endorsed Prop 19,
"The beauty of local option is that the experience of different cities will serve as a laboratory of policy alternatives from which policy students and other city councils can learn what works and what doesn't.
The local option grew out of the experience of the cities implementing medical marijuana policies.
Prop 19 allows local jurisdictions to make the choice."
11) A clause in Prop 19 allows the Ca Legislature to make initiative changes without voter approval, unlike Prop 215.
There are undesirable parts of the proposition that can be deleted or revised thru the normal legislative process, such as penalties for use around minors.
12) Prop 19 comes up against the Supremacy Clause under federal law which prohibits marijuana for all use.
One plant is a felony. But that doesn't mean the Feds will win.
Former San Jose police chief, Joseph McNamara, wants to take on the challenge of federal marijuana prohibition. He says, "It takes the states to push the federal government to change ifs policies."
In the words of ACLU's Allan Hopper: "If the Federal Government goes into court to stop 19 based on pre-emption under the Supremacy Clause, they will lose.
The Feds cannot force California to leave state marijuana laws on the books or force California to use state law enforcement personnel and resources to enforce federal marijuana prohibition."
An example is the People v Kha Return of Property case, successfully litigated by Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access.
The Government took the California Appeals Court Return of Property ruling favorable to patients to the US Supreme Court for review to have it overturned as a violation of federal law.
The Supremes refused to review it, let the Appeals Court decision stand
and told state law enforcement to return the property and that it was not their job to enforce federal law.
13) Prop 19 will open up California to the benefits of legalization, saving billions in enforcement expenditures, gaining a revenue stream of billions in taxes.
In the words of Dr Carol Wolman of the Green Party, "My guess is that legalization will greatly expand the market and prices will be stable."
14) Prop 19 will release the creative cultural/social/spiritual energy that has been bottled up for three generations by oppressive laws.
15) Prop 19 will usher in a plant-based, food-based, medicine-based value-added economy, revitalizing whole communities thru economic localization and distribution.
16) Prop 19 will reduce civil liberties' and constitutional rights' violations, by removing law enforcement's tool of aroma as probable cause to enter patients' vehicles, homes and other structures.
17) Prop 19 will set a higher bar protecting personal use possession and cultivation, trumping the era of misdemeanor penalties and infraction possession with tickets and fines for small amounts (Leno bill signed by Gov Schwarzenegger).
18) Prop 19 will open up an evolution in consciousness by recognizing the cannabis plant as a valuable and viable dimension in our modern world, medicinally, economically and culturally.
19) Prop 19 has opened a serious unprecedented marijuana legalization discourse throughout the country, which will help move the issue to other states' ballots and ultimately to Congress, where prohibition can be ended with hearings and a vote.
Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board
MMMAB steering committee endorsed Prop 19