As days are crossed off the calendar and the year is slowly coming to a close, there’s one day that all Californians should be concerned about: Nov. 2.
On the ballot this year is Proposition 19: The Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act. As one of California’s most controversial topics, everyone should ask themselves; should California legalize marijuana?
Supporters of Prop. 19 state that the passing of the proposition will control cannabis like alcohol, allowing those 21 or older to possess up to one ounce, put our police priorities where they should be. The proposition would also give state and local government the ability to tax the sale of cannabis and generate billions of annual revenue, while protecting our children, roads, and workplaces. Not only is this a flawed outlook, but an entirely unrealistic view.
Prop. 19 is a loosely formed bill that does not allow for strict restriction on the drug. There is absolutely no effective way for California’s government to control the cannabis plant. It is one of the most abused drugs in the country because the plant itself is easy to acquire and maintain. If the government is so confident in itself and na’ve to believe that they will be able to regulate that only people 21 or older will be in possession the drug, they are clearly mistaken.
One prime example is underage drinking. If they cannot control the sale and consumption of alcohol to minors how can they fathom the idea of keeping the drug out of the hands of minors? Is this one of the priorities law enforcement is going to be focused on?
Supporters of the bill believe that weed is so accessible, the only logical thing to do would be to domesticate and regulate the drug trade. They believe taxing marijuana will help fill the hole of California’s budget crisis, but in Prop. 19 there is no mention of the percentage of tax that will be used. Marijuana is already so widely spread throughout California that the government cannot confiscate all plants already in cultivation.
It also doesn’t have a provision saying that homegrown marijuana will be taxed. If there is a tax imposed to homegrown marijuana, what are the consequences if someone fails to report their plants? Why pay for something when you can get it for free?
Are parts of the taxes collected going to be used to form an agency to tax and regulate the marijuana plant or is that another agency that will need millions of dollars in start up money? Does the government believe the IRS is fully resourced to handle the tax evaders who want to grow their weed and smoke it too?
Prop. 19 states marijuana cannot be used around minors, but it fails to state what happens if it is smoked around minors. What are the consequences? If it is a personal right that citizens can do in their free time, how are children protected if the parents are openly smoking in front of them? What happens if they are caught? Will they be fined, forced to stop smoking or be reported to Child Protective Services?
Marijuana contains delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. When marijuana is smoked, it affects parts of the brain that control pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception and coordinated movement. Marijuana doesn’t make you aggressive, but is commonly known to induce lethargy. Will little Susie be expected to take care of herself? Can little six month old Johnny feed the bottle to himself or change his diapers? The thought of an unfocused, uncoordinated adult in charge of the welfare of a child should put a feeling of uneasiness in everyone’s stomach.
Although Prop.19 is well intended, there is no sure way the government will be able to control the drug. When all is said and done, I just want to feel safe when I leave my house in the morning. I hope the driver in the car next to me isn’t practicing their right to smoke during their free time, because personally I like my fellow drivers focused, coordinated. Remember, my bumper is not going to stop their car.
So when Nov. 2 rolls around Californians should just say no to Proposition 19.
Katrina Cruz is a
City Times staff writer