California was the first place in the U.S. to make medical marijuana legal after decades of prohibition. While the state did not vote to legalize in 2010, it is seeming like that will not be the case this time round. According to a survey conducted by UC Berkeley, approximately 64 percent of Californian residents are in favor of legalizing the herb in this November’s ballot where residents can vote for Prop 64, a measure created by AUMA.
Inside Prop 64
The California cannabis measure would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use and grow up to 6 marijuana plants at home, so long as they are out of public view. Smoking in public will be prohibited as well as smoking while driving or smoking in any public open area. Open containers of marijuana will also be banned. No marijuana related business would be allowed to be located within 600 feet of any school or public place that children frequent. Medical marijuana laws will generally remain the same.
Impact on Marijuana-Related Sentencing
The current California cannabis laws would also be changing if Prop 64 passes. Marijuana possession or selling charges have the potential to completely ruin a person’s life. In light of this, the sentences for marijuana related crimes in general would be reduced. The penalty for selling marijuana would be reduced from up to 4years in jail to a 6 month sentence and/or a $500 fine. People already in prison for marijuana related crimes would be eligible to have their sentence reconsidered by a judge.
Projected Proceeds of California Cannabis
The California cannabis market is far bigger than any current recreational marijuana market in the country. While Colorado, for example makes approximately $135 million a year, it is estimated that California would make $1 billion a year in tax revenue within the first few years. This money would be distributed amongst very specific causes. It would go towards funding youth programs, substance abuse treatment and education, programs to reduce impaired driving, cleaning up environmental problems and more. There would be a 15 percent sales tax on marijuana related product sales as well as a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves.
Adjustment Period for Small Farms
The price of marijuana would drop significantly, impacting the farmers that are currently an integral part of the cannabis industry. For this reason, small farmers are being given a 5 year period to adjust, before regulators would be allowed to start giving out licenses to larger organizations.
So far the Proposition 64 campaign has received an overwhelming amount of support. $11,453,469.31 has been generated in support of the measure. The opposition has raised $185,870 to fight the legalization of the herb. Significant funds have been donated in favor of the measure by entrepreneur Sean Parker, New Approach PAC and the non-profit, Drug Policy Action. With this much enthusiasm going towards ending the failure that was prohibition, it looks like a new day will be dawning soon in California.