With voters scrambling to the polls to choose between the lesser of two evils for president some will have a another important decision to weigh in on. The future of Cannabis in their home state but ultimately the path of Cannabis as a whole in America.
So far the numbers look good and are getting better. With 25 states having already legalized medical marijuana while 4 including the district of Colombia already allow for recreational use. This year 4 states will vote on medical initiatives while 5 vote states will vote on recreational ballot measures.
However, the upcoming election is of great importance to the future of marijuana in this country for one very BIG reason, California. With California having the 6th largest Economy in the world dwarfing entire groups of countries it's no shock that what California does with Cannabis law will greatly affect the national and global acceptance.
As the specter of the federal government still hangs over the booming cannabis industry they continue to maintain that Cannabis is still one of the most harmful drugs on the planet. This became evident by the DEAs refusal earlier this year to reschedule the Medicinal plant from its schedule 1 list of controlled substances which it currently still shares with drugs such as heroin LSD and ecstasy which have no accepted Medical use. By its refusal they are able to effectively ban commercial support of marijuana businesses by disallowing access to services traditionally necessary to run a business such as banking and shipping as the cultivating, buying and selling marijuana is still a crime under federal laws.
Complicating things further is the disagreement of current prop 215 patients (the states current medical marijuana users) with opposition within the ranks stating that legalization will harm their access to safe and effective medicine citing issues such as the ounce limit preventing them from having enough medication on hand as well as a take over by big business changing the face of the industry.
Groups of cannabis growers, businesses and collectives who have supported the industry through thick and thin, navigating all the various obstacles and legal hoops to supply patients with affective medicine have now come out in strong vocal opposition of Prop 64 stating that most
are disappointed in our government and saddened by the thought that they may not be a part of the future of cannabis as big companies make back-room deals with government officials to take hold of an industry they once opposed because of potential profit margins.
However supporters are very optimistic of not only the passage of prop 64 but in its aftermath, an entire west coast where cannabis is legal would spell the beginning of the end of prohibition for the federal government. More promising still is the appearance of Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome who has become the vocal face of prop 64 support and assists on a wide scale to educate the public about the benefits of legalization. If you look at the current polling numbers, 55% of Californians support legalization of marijuana according to The Public policy institute California. This is due largely to the ability of the supporter campaign out raising the opposition 22 million/2 million dollars making a pro 64 funded media push possible and ultimately making the passage of the amendment likely.
Still as divided the public is here, there is one group of people who aren't worried. Wall Street who sees cannabis legalization as a sort of new gold rush, with money heavy operations biting at the chance for a piece of the action. With a steady influx of new products poised to enter the market even celebrities are jumping at the opportunity. American society stars such as Whoopi Goldberg, Martha Stewart and Melissa Etheridge hoping to use their celebrity to make cannabis products appear more appealing to mainstream society.
Still it is important to note what would change under prop 64 as California has had a quasi legal market for weed for years under the states medical marijuana program prop 215 for instance
-Adults 21 years or older will be able to buy/use/transport/possess up to an ounce of cannabis and six plants . This is in contrast to the states current medical marijuana law which allows anyone over 18 who a doctors has deemed would benefit from access to cannabis, and places the lower limit of possession to X and Y plants and can be further increased if deemed medically necessary
-A tax of 15% on revenues forecasted in the billions, in addition to local taxes. Not specially earmarked for any programs
-An introduction of a new state board
-Forgiveness for marijuana crimes for anyone in jail or awaiting trial who would have relief under the new law at the time of their crime.
Wether you personally support prop 64 or marijuana legalization in this country what is most important is that everyone become educated on all of the ballot measures this year . As far as cannabis goes the war on drugs had empirically been a failure in this country and we would do undo a great injustice to help lend out voice to end it.
Prop 64 article sources