There’s a lot of talk going around these days about Prop. 19 and the legalization of cannabis. Some people are discussing it, others are screaming about it like rabid, slobbering dogs but regardless of what camp you’re getting your information from, you owe it to yourself to hear both sides of this important debate!
Proposition 19 is the hottest topic to hit California ballots since gay marriage and it’s got people all over the country talking. A previous article posted to this blog entitled “No” on Proposition 19, for better reasons than you think! raised quite a response. The hate mail and viscous rebuttals from the Pro-19 camp arrived as expected, some coming from outside California, however most of them were just a copy and paste job. It was actually kind of disappointing that of the 15 or 20 disapproving messages we got in response to the first article, only about four of them were unique and the rest were all copies of the first one. However, even more surprising than the lackluster efforts of the “Pro-19″ camp, was the overwhelming level of support for the article we received! The “No” on Proposition 19 article has been posted to over 800 Facebook profiles and received well over a thousands visits and counting. The tide is starting to turn with Proposition 19 and it would seem that people are heading toward the light. An amazing number of cannabis supporters are coming forward and speaking their mind about this Proposition, speaking the truth about the amazing falsehoods of Prop. 19! The supporters of 19 love to flaunt video’s of people talking about how great Prop. 19 is, so it true activist form . . . take a look at what veteran California attorney George Mull has to say about the language and falsehoods of Proposition 19, then read on and we’ll really get into it:
The devil is in the details. Proposition 19 is being touted across discussion boards and college campuses as “legalization” with the sort of recklessness that encouraged people to run to the stores and hoard water in preparation for the dreaded Y2K bug which was certain to bring about the collapse of modern society. We all remember how that turned out. Proposition 19 is similar to Y2K in that it presents the possibility of something monumental happening, but the reality of that great “happening” is about as likely as the Y2K bug destroying the global economy, or the moon crashing into the earth sometime in the next 10-15 days. It’s important to understand one very key piece of information when considering Prop. 19: Proposition 19 does not legalize marijuana in the state of California! Read the bill, all of the bill, not just snippets or opinions of snippets posted on some stoner’s blog. Read it for yourself.
In California, before people go to the polls to vote, they receive in their mail a booklet called the “California General Election Official Voter Information Guide,” in which is printed all of the ballot initiatives that will be voted on. It starts with a one page summary of every initiative, stating the Reader’s Digest version of the arguments for and against each vote. After that section, a slightly more in depth break down of each measure is given, allowing one whole page for each side to both make their case and rebut their opponent’s case. This section is a little more helpful than the first but still doesn’t really get to the heart of the issue. Also, if you read each case, they simply extol the virtues of their argument and demonize their opponent with all sorts of facts and figures that are speculative and virtually impossible to verify before rolling out their respectively long lists of supporters: The American Nurse’s Association, The Firefighters Relief Brigade, Retired Police Chief Stuffybritches, Mothers Against Homeless Puppies . . . the list goes on and on for both sides, each claiming that to vote for their opponent would bring about the end of the world. It’s a great lot of comedy and more or less useless if you’re trying to really understand a bill. Unfortunately, this is as far as most people will go. In an age where Senators and Representatives will readily admit that they don’t read the bills they vote on, what do you think the probability is that people who don’t get paid to read bills (i.e. you, me and everyone who’s not a senator) are going to take the time to flip back to the third and most daunting section of the “Official Voter Information Guide” and actually read the wording of the proposed bill? Little to none, and the folks out there screaming like cat’s in heat about how great Prop. 19 is are counting on it!
The Devil is in the details. And there are a number of details in this law that need to be closely scrutinized. We’re only going to try and tackle one section at a time of this bill, as there is too much to cover it all in this one post. Let’s start at the beginning, where the largest deception is: Proposition 19 is not legalization! What Prop. 19 actually does, under the disguise of legalization, is take away the state’s current authority which has granted access to anyone whom has acquired a medical marijuana recommendation, and put’s it in the hands of local lawmakers. Let’s take a look at some of the wording of Prop. 19:
The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010
- B-7. Ensure, if a city decides not to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis, that buying and selling cannabis within that city’s limits remain illegal, but that the city’s citizens still have the right to possess and consume small amounts, except as permitted under Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9 of the Health and Safety Code.
- B-8. Ensure, if a city decides it does want to tax and regulate the buying and selling of cannabis (to and from adults only), that a strictly controlled legal system is implemented to oversee and regulate cultivation, distribution, and sales, and that the city will have control over how and how much cannabis can be bought and sold, except as permitted under Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9 of the Health and Safety Code.
Now right off the bat you’ve probably noticed that item b-7 says “if a city decides not to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis, that buying and selling cannabis within that city’s limits remain illegal”, which is contradictory to this widely held opinion of Prop. 19 as a sweeping legalization measure. If you’re not a medical marijuana user, and are simply looking to use cannabis as a recreational substance, this doesn’t bode well for you. If you live in a city where the local politicians aren’t particularly friendly toward marijuana, like LA or any red-voting city/county, it bodes even less well for you. You’ll not be allowed to buy cannabis in your town, you’ll be severely punished for buying cannabis from an unlicensed seller (i.e. drug dealer) and you’ll have to travel to a town where they will sell you cannabis, like Oakland, and buy it from Richard Lee. If you are a medical marijuana patient there is snippet at the end of B-7 (and B-8) that references health code passages enacted during the Compassionate Care Act of 1996, allowing for the use of marijuana as a medical remedy, which talks about the state making medicine available to anyone who has a prescription and who needs it. The argument of the Pro-19 camp has been that even if a city decides not to sell marijuana (which surely a great deal of the more conservative areas will) that medical marijuana patients will still somehow have access to it, thanks to the Sections 11362.5 and 11.62.7-11362.9. But alas, we’ve encountered another little Devil! Here is the language that the Pro-19ers are referring to:
CA HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE SECTION 11362.5
- (C) To encourage the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.
Did you all catch that? ENCOURAGE? So the state is going to be encouraged to guarantee the availability of medical marijuana to patients living in cities that have banned marijuana, which is fantastic is this were a children’s televisions program where telling the truth is the name of the game and everybody took turns in the sharing circle talking about their feelings while sipping on juice boxes, but this is California. California boasts the most convoluted, corrupt, ass-backwards political system in the country topping even the clowns in D.C., the depth and effect of which can be very hard to wrap your mind around if you’re not a resident, even if you’re “radical.” Californian’s know that a political promise carries as much weight as a wet Kleenex, and being “encouraged” to do something will demand about as much attention as an ugly girl in Hollywood (none).
Californians have fought a long, arduous battle on behalf of cannabis and have come a long way in the past 15 years. We have secured rights for medical marijuana patients and created an attitude in our state’s capital that is friendly toward marijuana and provides privileges to medical marijuana patients, allowing them access to their medicine across the state, but there is absolutely no guarantee that the political warmth shown toward marijuana at a state level will be reciprocated by every county. Indeed much of the progress on behalf of medical marijuana has been fought for and attained by the efforts of liberal, urban voting blocks whom will have absolutely no say over the legislation enacted by local governments in smaller, more rural areas. While a few areas of California may retain their liberal position regarding marijuana, the majority are likely to tighten the reigns and greatly restrict the availability and good will towards cannabis users. If Proposition 19 passes, you can expect a California where marijuana is very difficult to acquire in many cities and completely banned from many more. And once this great tightening of the belt occurs in smaller communities, recreational and medical users will be forced to travel into the few remaining area’s still friendly to marijuana in order to buy cannabis from a small number of growers who can afford to grow and sell their product. In the bay area, there will only be a few and capitalizing on that empire will be Richard Lee, the writer of this ridiculous bill, who can now legally sell his product to anyone at whatever rate he chooses (now that the competition has been wiped out.) Very convenient, isn’t it?
Legalization is on the horizon, it is the next logical step for marijuana; a substance that is safer than tobacco and alcohol and boasts medicinal qualities the others do not. Legalization will open up new markets to Californians in business and agriculture, take drug dealers off the streets and generate tax revenue that can be used for any number of worthy causes. Legalization will allow cannabis users to safely and openly use a substance that never should have been outlawed in the first place. But PROPOSITION 19 IS NOT LEGALIZATION! Proposition 19 threatens to undue much of the progress that cannabis supporters and activists have fought hard to achieve on behalf of all Californians, and should be regarded as a threat to your liberties, not an expansion of them. We will have legalization in the near future, but throwing away everything that we have for the possibility that things might go right is the wrong thing to do. Have faith California, be patient, we’ve waited decades for true legalization and in the coming years we WILL have it, but until we do it is vital that we move forward with caution and apprehension, ensuring that when the time comes we get the legislation that we deserve, that we have fought for! It must be fair. It must be just and guarantee the rights of everyone (not just Richard Lee) and the details must make sense, for the Devil is in the Details, and this state already has enough Devils.