Along with the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News and the East Bay Times, it is now the fourth major daily newspaper in the state to endorse the more restrictive Proposition 64 after having opposed the most recent attempt to legalize marijuana in California, the more liberal Proposition 19, in 2010.
“On balance, the proposition deserves a ‘Yes’ vote,” reads the Los Angeles Times Sunday editorial. “It is ultimately better for public health, for law and order and for society if marijuana is a legal, regulated and controlled product for adults. Proposition 64 — while not perfect — offers a logical, pragmatic approach to legalization that also would give lawmakers and regulators the flexibility to change the law to address the inevitable unintended consequences.”“The reality is that California has already, essentially, legalized marijuana,” the editorial reads. “Virtually any adult can get a medical marijuana recommendation and buy pot products legally at a dispensary. And those who can’t be bothered to fake a headache or back pain can buy it on the black market without fear of going to jail.”
“Proposition 64 would end the need for such ruses and deal a blow to the illegal market, which thrives on prohibition,” the editorial reads. “If it is passed, adults 21 and older would be allowed to grow, buy and possess marijuana for their personal use in private homes or at businesses licensed for on-site consumption.
“The state would license and regulate businesses that grow, process, deliver and sell marijuana,” the editorial reads. “Pot shops could not sell tobacco or alcohol. Cities would have the ability to set local regulations and even ban marijuana businesses, but they couldn’t bar adults from growing, using or transporting marijuana for personal use.”“The measure would impose state taxes on commercial cultivation and sales that could eventually raise more than $1 billion a year,” the editorial reads. “The measure would dedicate the new revenue to youth drug education, prevention and treatment programs, law enforcement programs to reduce driving under the influence, and environmental restoration of land damaged by illegal cannabis cultivation.”
“For decades, drug enforcement — and particularly enforcement of the marijuana laws — has disproportionately affected African American and Latino men, leaving them with criminal records that make it harder to get a job or to advance in their careers,” the L.A. Times editorial points out. “Though California decriminalized marijuana possession in 2010 and misdemeanor arrests have fallen by 90 percent, there are still people serving time for marijuana crimes or who are hindered by past marijuana convictions. If the initiative passes, individuals could ask to have their sentences reduced, or if they are no longer incarcerated, they could ask the courts to have their criminal records changed. Also, Proposition 64 would take a less punitive approach to youth enforcement: People under 18 caught with marijuana would be sentenced to drug education and community service…”“Proposition 64 would give the Legislature the ability to amend the marijuana industry regulations by a majority vote; other changes to the law would need a two-thirds vote,” the editorial reads. “Regulatory agencies would be given the flexibility to develop rules as issues arise. That flexibility is welcome if lawmakers and regulators use it to make sure the law meets its objectives — not to grant the wishes of an army of marijuana industry lobbyists…”
“By sending mixed messages, the federal government has effectively ceded its role and left it to states to create a new national marijuana policy that legalizes marijuana with minimal harm and meaningful protections,” the editorial reads. “Proposition 64 is California’s attempt to do just that. The Times urges a ‘yes’ vote.”Proposition 64 includes what supporters call “strong safeguards for children, workers, local governments and small businesses and strict anti-monopoly provisions and the toughest warning label and marketing-to-kids laws in the nation.” It also, unfortunately, includes some provisions that favor big corporate money over the thriving mom-and-pop cottage industry that cannabis has become over the past two decades of medical marijuana legalization, apparently a nod to the big money which is backing the measure.
Prop 64 is supported by the California Academy of Preventative Medicine and the California Medical Association, as well as California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a bipartisan group of federal, state and local elected officials, and a coalition including environmental leaders, business owners, small farmers, civil rights groups, public safety experts and social justice advocates.
The campaign is paid for by Yes on 64, Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana while Protecting Children, sponsored by business, physicians, environmental and social-justice advocate organizations. Major funding comes from Napster/Facebook billionaire Sean Parker and affiliated entities, along with Drug Policy Action – Non-Profit 501c4 (Committee), a political action arm of the Drug Policy Alliance.