Various recent discussions have made me want to chat about Prop 19 some more. I’m no expert on Prop 19, and nobody is an expert on exactly what will happen after Prop 19’s passage, but there are some things that are known.
1. Prop 19 is not being marketed merely as a tax income money-maker for the State of California.
I really don’t understand the odd individuals who apparently are getting outraged over what they call dishonest marketing of Proposition 19 as a massive tax income generator. Sure, there have been estimates (official ones by the State’s Board of Equalization) of what tax income could be brought in from Prop 19, based on a whole lot of variables. It would be stupid not to promote those estimates (particularly when the other side is trying to claim increased health costs without any data to support it at all). Often when Congress passes a bill, they have the CBO score it for its costs or revenue, and use those figures to push or oppose the bill (despite the uncertainty of those costs or revenues ever coming true).
Now, if Prop 19 supporters came out and said that marijuana is a horrible and dangerous thing, but at least we’ll make $1.4 billion in taxes off it (when the actual amount of tax revenue was uncertain), then that would be dishonest.
But that’s not the story here.
All you have to do is look at the official ballot statements to see that Prop 19 is being marketed as a whole lot of things, and the tax revenue is merely one of many benefits (and certainly not the most important one).
Read the whole thing again.
PROPOSITION 19: COMMON SENSE CONTROL OF MARIJUANA
Today, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are spent enforcing the failed prohibition of marijuana (also known as â€œcannabisâ€).
Currently marijuana is easier for kids to get than alcohol, because dealers donâ€™t require ID.
Prohibition has created a violent criminal market run by international drug cartels.
Police waste millions of taxpayer dollars targeting non-violent marijuana consumers, while thousands of violent crimes go unsolved.
And there is $14 billion in marijuana sales every year in California, but our debt-ridden state gets nothing from it.
Marijuana prohibition has failed.
WE NEED A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO CONTROL AND TAX MARIJUANA LIKE ALCOHOL.
Proposition 19 was carefully written to get marijuana under control.
Under Proposition 19, only adults 21 and over can possess up to one ounce of marijuana, to be consumed at home or licensed establishments. Medical marijuana patientsâ€™ rights are preserved.
If we can control and tax alcohol, we can control and tax marijuana.
PUT STRICT SAFETY CONTROLS ON MARIJUANA
Proposition 19 maintains strict criminal penalties for driving under the influence, increases penalties for providing marijuana to minors, and bans smoking it in public, on school grounds, and around minors.
Proposition 19 keeps workplaces safe by preserving the right of employers to maintain a drug-free workplace.
PUT POLICE PRIORITIES WHERE THEY BELONG
According to the FBI, in 2008 over 61,000 Californians were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession, while 60,000 violent crimes went unsolved. By ending arrests of non-violent marijuana consumers, police will save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars a year, and be able to focus on the real threat: violent crime.
Police, Sheriffs, and Judges support Proposition 19.
HELP FIGHT THE DRUG CARTELS
Marijuana prohibition has created vicious drug cartels across our border. In 2008 alone, cartels murdered 6,290 civilians in Mexico â€” more than all U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
60 percent of drug cartel revenue comes from the illegal U.S. marijuana market.
By controlling marijuana, Proposition 19 will help cut off funding to the cartels.
GENERATE BILLIONS IN REVENUE TO FUND WHAT MATTERS
California faces historic deficits, which, if state government doesnâ€™t balance the budget, could lead to higher taxes and fees for the public, and more cuts to vital services. Meanwhile, there is $14 billion in marijuana transactions every year in California, but we see none of the revenue that would come from taxing it.
Proposition 19 enables state and local governments to tax marijuana, so we can preserve vital services.
The Stateâ€™s tax collector, the Board of Equalization, says taxing marijuana would generate $1.4 billion in annual revenue, which could fund jobs, healthcare, public safety, parks, roads, transportation, and more.
LETâ€™S REFORM CALIFORNIAâ€™S MARIJUANA LAWS
Outlawing marijuana hasnâ€™t stopped 100 million Americans from trying it. But we can control it, make it harder for kids to get, weaken the cartels, focus police resources on violent crime, and generate billions in revenue and savings.
We need a common sense approach to control marijuana.
YES on 19.
JOSEPH D. MCNAMARA
San Jose Police Chief (Ret.)
JAMES P. GRAY
Orange County Superior Court Judge (Ret.)
Deputy Chief, LAPD (Ret.)
After reading that, can anyone honestly say “Well, I was going to vote for Prop 19, but now that I hear that it might not bring in the full $1.4 billion in tax revenue, what’s the point?”
2. Proposition 19 does not have a built-in $50 per ounce tax.
A lot of people seem to have that mistaken idea. That idea comes from a completely different bill that was proposed that has nothing to do with Prop 19. Prop 19 merely gives local government the power to set a tax and/or license fee. Each local community can decide. It could be $5 per ounce. It could be $50. It could be 0. Any community that sets it too high will likely be undercut by neighboring towns.
It’s actually an ingenious solution. By giving the power to the local communities, various options can be tried and we can learn from them. Yes, finally we can have that laboratory (flawed though it may be with the feds anxious to fight their own citizens) that we’ve been needing in drug policy for ages.
“It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system,” Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote in 1932, “that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
Prop 19 is one of those fabulous opportunities to actually test legalization in a limited way. Any true researcher should be drooling at the opportunity to see such a reasonably safe laboratory finally answer a ton of questions.
And this delineates the line between the researcher/scientist and the charlatan who is too invested in prohibition to even allow it to be seriously challenged.
3. If you are pro-marijuana but are anti-Prop 19, what are your reasons?
- You are a profiteer. Like any major corporate CEO who says “screw the consumer” in order to increase the bottom line, you oppose the regulations that are part of legalization and that will make your job as a drug dealer harder or more competitive.
- You are a moron. You believe in some perfect world where marijuana is free for everyone. Cannabis is a gift from God, you say, and to involve taxes and government regulation soils it (as you smoke the moldy crap grown by Mexican cartels). Have you read the papers? Watched cable news? Read any web page on the internet that doesn’t have a cannabis leaf prominently on the top of it? Do you really see this world as one where a hippy nirvana is on the horizon ready to arrive any day now if we just hold off and defeat Prop 19? You are a moron.
- You tell me.
4. There are a few things Prop 19 will not do.
- Prop 19 will not require anyone to consume cannabis who doesn’t want to
- Prop 19 will not make your brain surgeon, bus driver, or airline pilot suddenly decide to do their job high.
- Prop 19 will not suddenly turn the highway into a demolition derby.
- Passage of Prop 19 will not make the opponents of Prop 19 any smarter.