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Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana under California law, but not federal law.

The federal government announced as of March 2009 that it will not prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers, but has continued to go after non-medical activities.  Depending on if the federal government adheres to the will of the people in the event that proposition 19 passes, this would dramatically alter the Mexican drug cartels’ business models. Californian agriculture would have to adjust to a crop more profitable than cotton or tobacco, but only the state would be able to regulate the commercial production of marijuana.

Proposition 19 would create overarching laws for the state of California like the following:

1) One ounce maximum
2) 21 years and over
3) Up to 25 square feet (5 by 5) of cannabis can be grown on private property
4) No public consumption
5) Transportation of marijuana is allowed
6) No selling unless a proper license has been issued
7) Employers’ rights are in question due to the term “actually impaired” – which is difficult to prove.

But the fine details of who is allowed to sell, where specifically, and how much tax is levied will be up to local governments.

The City of Los Angeles could have different requirements for licenses to sell and different tax rates than Santa Monica or San Francisco. This will probably lead to websites that let you know the specific laws each locality has adopted. It is difficult to say who will do what. Venice beach could become another Amsterdam.

It would not apply retroactively, so the current prison demographics would not change, but future ones surely will. There are law enforcement personnel on both sides of this proposition. Some saying that it will free up resources for more serious issues, while others say it will open a floodgate.

Medicinal Marijuana proponents are also on both sides of the issue. Some saying that marijuana is only for medicinal purposes and not recreational, others claiming that it will benefit society at large.

The health aspects of marijuana cover the entire spectrum. From easing pain, fighting nausea, and stimulating appetite to lung damage, damage to short-term memory, and the effects of withdrawal. There are no absolutes in this discussion; it is a lot of gray and personal preference and experience.

The Californian marijuana market is estimated at $14,000,000,000 annually, which could be used to generate tax revenue for the state and local governments. Over 60,000 Californians were prosecuted for misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2008. Voting YES on Prop 19 would affect a lot more than college parties and Venice Beach.

Another relevant argument is that once legalized, it will be easier for young people to get a hold of the substance. Homeless people might be found outside of dispensaries as much as liquor stores. Employers may also have a more difficult time governing the workplace.

People will still have to operate in society, governing themselves and their own behavior. College kids and public recklessness is always in play, with or without proposition 19. Being impaired while at work or driving is up to you, but then so are the consequences.

The control of cannibis is currently in the hands of drug cartels, would it be better in the hands of your City Councilman?

Resources to Check Out Before Election:
Official California’s Secretary of State’s Voter Guide on Prop 19: http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/propositions/19/
Official Yes on Prop 19: http://yeson19.com/
Official No on Prop 19: http://www.noonproposition19.com/
Information on the Current Medical Marijuana Program in California: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/mmp/pages/medical%20marijuana%20program.aspx
Marijuana’s Health Effects as Abusive Drug by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): http://drugabuse.gov/infofacts/marijuana.html

NOTE: My goal is raise both side of the issues, but if you don’t think I did justice covering your side, please feel free to write a comment below sharing your point of view and let’s start the discussion.

UPDATE: Either way we vote on Prop 19, the Federal Government intends to prosecute non medicinal uses of marijuana. More later on this after the elections.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers represent their own and not of HMT. Please see disclaimer for more information.