By Leonardo Castaneda, Contributor
Proposition 19, known as the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010,” is on the ballot to drastically reform marijuana laws in the state. If the act is passed it will legalize and regulate marijuana in a fashion similar to alcohol.
Adults ages 21 and older would be able to own, carry and consume cannabis. They would also be allowed to grow their own marijuana for personal use in an area no larger than 25 square feet. The control part of the bill includes a limit of one ounce of marijuana per person and consumption would be limited to private residences and licensed non-public areas. Consumption while driving and distributing to minors would both be strictly prohibited.
The burden of regulating cannabis consumption would fall into the hands of local governments, allowing them to decide who gets to sell marijuana and how. They would also be allowed to impose any taxes and fees regarding the sale and transportation of the drug. A more radical concept of the bill is that local governments can also choose to do nothing with it. In a case where a local government still holds firm opposition to marijuana smoking, the sale and purchase of it would be illegal in that district, but personal possession and growth wouldn’t.
To deter citizens from abusing the law, the act threatens up to five years in state prison for anyone providing marijuana to minors. The bill leaves the possibility for adding amendments open if the state government wants to alter limits on the legal amount of marijuana growth and possession or further regulate the statewide commercial marijuana industry.
Supporters of Proposition 19 argue the taxation of marijuana could bring in billions of dollars for the state, freeing up resources and time for police officers to focus on gang-related crimes. Opponents argue the law would decrease public safety by increasing the likelihood that people will drive under the influence. They also claim businesses will be negatively impacted because they would have the burden of proving whether an employee’s performance is suffering because of marijuana use.
According to many polling agencies, a majority of voters currently stand in opposition to the measure.