Marijuana legalization became a reality in California after the results of Tuesday’s election. Voters in the Golden State overwhelmingly supported Proposition 64, a measure that makes the cultivation and possession of recreational cannabis legal in the state.
Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, will permit California to regulate and tax marijuana sales just as it does with alcohol. Under the law, the state will impose a 15 percent tax on the retail sales of recreational cannabis. A similar initiative was put on the ballot in 2010 but was promptly shot down by Californians.
Once the new marijuana legalization law goes into effect, adults 21 and older can use and possess up to an ounce of marijuana. Proposition 64 also allows a person to grow up to six plants for personal use.
The law does not allow advertisers to use symbols, language, music or cartoon characters that could attract young people to the product. Additionally, using marijuana in public remains unlawful, just like tobacco smoking.
The California marijuana legalization results create the largest market for cannabis in the United States. According to Proposition 64 supporters, the state stands to generate more than $1 billion in new revenue. Most of the money will be used to fund research projects, regulation, and programs aimed to safeguard children and the environment.
While marijuana is legal in California as a result of Tuesday’s election results, it may be a while before Californians can get access to the plant. Proposition 64 only permits recreational marijuana to be sold by state-approved facilities, and California won’t likely issue the first licenses to retailers until January, 2018. The state intends to take the next year to develop and implement the rules and regulations of the new marijuana legalization law.
Supporters of the measure hope Tuesday’s results will send a message to the U.S. government that it is time to make recreational cannabis legal nationwide.
“We are very excited that citizens of California voted to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” said Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Assn. “Proposition 64 will allow California to take its rightful place as the center of cannabis innovation, research and development.”
Arguing the national government’s efforts to stamp out illegal drugs has perversely hurt minority citizens and wastes public money, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom believes marijuana legalization in California will change the lives of countless people virtually overnight.
“I think it’s the beginning of the end of the war on marijuana [in the] United States. I think it will have repercussions internationally, particularly in Mexico and Latin America. And there are a million people who tomorrow can begin the process of clearing their records.”
Meanwhile, critics of California’s marijuana legalization law say the results are a disaster. They believe recreational marijuana use will only increase abuse of the drug, make driving more dangerous as more motorists get behind the wheel high, and give teenagers a much easier path to obtaining weed.
Despite Tuesday’s marijuana legalization results, opponents plan to continue to fight for restricted advertising, home delivery of cannabis products, and regulation standards for intoxicated drivers.
“The real battle will be in the legislature and how the details of the regulations are worked out,” said Andrew Acosta, the spokesman for the No on 64 campaign. “The flaws in the initiative are going to need to be fixed.”
Law enforcement groups across the state, including the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the Peace Officers Research Association, and the California Police Chiefs Association, agree with Acosta. They worry the marijuana legalization results put public health and safety at a greater risk since Proposition 64 does not provide specific procedures to determine if someone is driving while high on weed. Chief Ken Corney, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, says “prosecutorial tools” need to be written before the law is implemented.
California was among nine other states that were voting Tuesday on measures to legalize marijuana in some form. Other states that have already legalized recreational marijuana are Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
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