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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