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Reefer Madness
California Poised to Legalize Marijuana

Golden State voters look set to rubber-stamp a permissive marijuana legalization initiative this November, more than doubling the number of Americans nationwide who have access to state-approved weed. The Los Angeles Times reports that the initiative is currently leading in the polls by more than 20 points:

Six years after a similar initiative was rejected, a clear majority of California voters supports a measure on the November ballot that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in their state, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Proposition 64, which would legalize personal use, is backed by 58% of California voters, and that favorable view extends across most lines of age, race, income and gender, according to the survey.

The ballot measure backed by former Facebook President Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom would allow Californians ages 21 or older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes, and would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants. The measure would also impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug.

TAI‘s go-to authority on marijuana policy, Mark Kleiman, has expressed serious concerns about the measure, noting that it favors “the expansion of the market at the expense of public health. Unlimited production guarantees that farmgate prices will settle down at something below $1 per gram; add to that 33 cents in excise and a 15% sales tax, and the result will be prices substantially lower than those in Washington State.” Proposition 64, far from being a cautious and responsible de-escalation of the drug war, is a sweeping deregulation that risks exacerbating cannabis dependency and social decay.

Even in the likely event that the measure passes, however, California won’t turn into cannabis free-for-all overnight. The fading of legal restrictions on marijuana is likely to bring about a heightening of social and institutional sanctions: Colleges might ban it from their campuses, employers might perform more frequent drug tests, and landlords might disallow it in their properties. That said, the people who are most likely to suffer under the likely new policy (think: idle, non-college educated young men living with their parents) are also least likely to be affected these informal regulations. For marginal Californians at risk for cannabis abuse disorder, Proposition 64 seems like bad news indeed.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Most US voters appear to have figured out that marijuana is not the threat it is painted to be. Get over it.

  • CaliforniaStark

    “That said, the people who are most likely to suffer under the likely new policy (think: idle, non-college educated young men living with their parents)”. Is the suffering you are referring to from the “second-hand” smoke from their parents marijuana use? Older adults in California quite likely use marijuana as much as their children.

    I doubt marijuana use will go up much as a result of marijuana becoming “legal”; as it is already in effect legal to use; you just have to go through the formality of obtaining a “prescription” in California for your chronic hang-nail or any other minor ailment, real or imagined.

    Believe the percentage of the population who use marijuana in the Netherlands, where it is legal, is less than in many jurisdictions in the U.S. where it is illegal — there are certain type of people who chronically uses marijuana; which thankfully appears to consist of a limited percentage of the population.

  • JDogg

    So is this a coy way for TIA to tell its readers to start speculating on tobacco stocks? (as if they aren’t great investments already)

  • http://www.heidelbergconfession.blogspot.com Heidelberg

    I have no idea why an otherwise sensible magazine is so absurd when it comes to marijuana legalization.

  • Fat_Man

    “Colleges might ban it from their campuses”

    Sure. just like they banned binge drinking.

    • JR

      I went to college in CA. Good luck banning weed from campus. You might as well attempt to drink up Pacific Ocean through a straw.

  • Jim__L

    I’m curious which pollsters are so easy to bribe.

    Attitudes do not change this quickly.

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