5 things to make you think before you vote on Legalizing Cannabis with Prop 64 –2016

1. Will the black market still thrive and be criminalized–is this being legalized for wealthy white men?

  • Cannabis is still illegal in other states, so the black market won’t be going anywhere fast. With the sales taxes and taxes supporting costs for the regulatory framework, purchasing cannabis will be cheaper on the black market locally as well. People still make moonshine all these years after alcohol prohibition ended, and growing pot safe for consumption is much easier than making alcohol. Even in CNN’s documentary series High Profits, black market dealers steal much of the retail sales for the legal cannabis stores right out of the stores own line of customers.

“From our perspective, legalization is supposed to be about keeping us out of jail — it’s supposed to be about protecting our families,” Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the marijuana trade group California Growers Association, told ATTN:. “But if the in-state marketplace is captured by a small number of very large growers, there won’t be much choice other than to continue to engage in criminal behavior. While all the marijuana millionaires get rich, all of the existing cannabis households will continue to be treated as criminals for just making a living.” http://www.attn.com/stories/12051/why-some-stoners-oppose-marijuana-legalization

  • Also Michelle Alexander’s commentary and article on the subject really rocked me:

“When you flick on the TV to a segment about the flowering pot market in Colorado, you’ll find that the faces of the movement are primarily white and male. Meanwhile, many of the more than 210,000 people who were arrested for marijuana possession in Colorado between 1986 and 2010 according to a report from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, remain behind bars. Thousands of black men and boys still sit in prisons for possession of the very plant that’s making those white guys on TV rich.

“In many ways the imagery doesn’t sit right,” said Michelle Alexander, associate professor of law at Ohio State University and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in a public conversation on March 6 with Asha Bandele of the Drug Policy Alliance.  “Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?”” http://www.alternet.org/drugs/michelle-alexander-white-men-get-rich-legal-pot-black-men-stay-prison

  • And finally this account of a black market dealer and racial lines in the industry really stuck with me as well:

“The few black people who have managed to start cannabis businesses or apply for licenses have sometimes found themselves subject to discriminatory law enforcement. They’ve been followed by the stigma that black people who sell pot are dangerous criminals and white people who do the same are goofy hippies.”

“After giving up on the lawyer in Beverly Hills, the Distributor still wanted to figure out how to operate legally, but he didn’t know how to find a lawyer he could trust. And in any case, he began to notice that nearly everyone going legit — registering as a marijuana business, filing taxes, and operating out of a storefront — was white, and everyone he worked with on the underground market was black or Mexican. He’d had occasional legal troubles since his felony. As much as he wanted to turn his operation into a real business, he decided that until the rules got clearer, trying to be a law-abiding citizen was just too dangerous.

Gray areas like these have always been ripe for racially biased law enforcement. In Mendocino County, where the Distributor buys most of his pot, black people were 10 times more likely to get arrested for pot crimes than white people in 2014.” https://www.buzzfeed.com/amandachicagolewis/americas-white-only-weed-boom


Michell Alexander however, has endorsed Prop 64.

Artists for Prop. 64 joins an unprecedented coalition of bipartisan supporters of this initiative, including: California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Academy of Preventative Medicine, California Nurses Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, California Medical Association, United Farm Workers, California State NAACP, the Courage Campaign, Equality California, the National Latino Officers Association, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and leading activists Michelle Alexander, Dorsey Nunn and Susan Burton.

Proposition 64 contains important sentencing reforms that eliminate or reduce most adult use and cultivation marijuana offenses. It ends the wasteful of expenditure of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars every year in California on the arrest, prosecution and incarceration of nonviolent, marijuana-only offenses. Proposition 64 also reduces barriers to entry to the legal market, and drives hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to low-income communities that have been most negatively impacted by the drug war.” http://www.alternet.org/drugs/artists-come-out-strong-support-marijuana-legalization-california


2. The people trying to pass this bill are still stigmatizing it.

  • What will the repercussions be from this attitude? Will this perpetuate social injustice? 

“The message of one recent Yes on Prop. 64 spot, “Common Sense,” exemplifies the incongruity. It’s one of money, regulation, taxes, rules. Former California Finance Director Tom Campbell lays out a bone-dry case for tight, responsible regulation. Marijuana itself seems an afterthought—and the thought is not pleasant.

To spare you a second viewing, here’s Campbell’s money quote: “I’ve never tried marijuana and I don’t advocate others doing so.” In no uncertain terms, the official marijuana legalization campaign in the country’s most populous state is telling us we shouldn’t consume cannabis. Prop. 64’s messaging has been largely consistent with this DARE-worthy message for more than a year.”


3. How will the tax money from this bill be spent?

“Supporters of legal recreational marijuana use point to Colorado, which legalized cannabis for adults in 2012. There, taxes and fees on weed are helping to build schools, repair roads and stabilize city budgets.

But critics of Proposition 64, California’s legalization initiative on the November ballot, point out tax revenue from legal weed would be dispersed much differently here.

Letitia Pepper, a Riverside attorney who uses medical marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis but is a vocal opponent of the measure, noted none of it would be dedicated to the general operations of local governments or schools.

Proponents acknowledge California’s measure includes key differences in how pot funds could be used. But they add that local governments and students still can benefit from the measure.

An estimated $1 billion in new tax revenue would be directed toward specific new or expanded programs such as drug use prevention and treatment, helping at-risk youth, law enforcement, environmental clean-up and research.

Jason Kinney, spokesman for the Yes on Prop. 64 campaign, said the restrictions on public use of the new tax monies was intentional. If public agencies were allowed to balance their general spending budgets with marijuana taxes, he said, it could create an incentive for them to encourage a bigger marijuana industry.

“The state of California shouldn’t be forced to rely on increased marijuana usage to address future K-12 education, infrastructure and other ongoing budget obligations,” he said.”


4. Are you ready to organize against municipalities discriminating against outdoor growing?

  • This bill allows local municipalities to set their rules on homegrown outdoor cannabis. This bill gives local municipalities power to ban outdoor growing but they must allow 6 indoor plants. We saw recently that bans on all medical marijuana have swept California cities and counties. This will undoubtedly promote a culture of indoor growing which is environmentally unsound, expensive, and fuels the fossil fuel economy. Outdoor homegrown pot can be virtually free, better quality, and does not cause damage to the environment when done in a home garden. At home in your garden is probably one of the most sustainable ways to grow pot, and I just love how every plant is slightly different from environmental condidtions. Indoor is much more costly, classist, and bland.

“Baked into Prop. 64 is the provision, sacred in California, of local control. If a city or a county wants to ban commercial cannabis cultivation or retail sales, they’ll be able to do it. (Legally speaking, since a place to grow or buy legal cannabis needs local permits, they don’t even need to actively ban—they can just do nothing.) This has already happened with medical marijuana. Vast swaths of the state, including much of inland Southern California as well as Silicon Valley cities like Palo Alto, have said no to dispensaries. It’s also happened in adult-use states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.”

“In California, indoor production consumed 9 percent of household electricity in the nation’s oldest legal medical pot market, the amount used in 1 million homes, Mills found. The analyst published that study before the industry exploded following legalization in almost half the states and the District of Columbia. The report remains the best gauge of power use.”


5. It originates from billionaire Sean Parker and his wealthy connections.

  • Will such origins come back to haunt us?

“But behind the scenes, legalization efforts are splitting California marijuana advocates with national drug-policy groups over such things as including initiative language to protect marijuana users from job discrimination or over how tightly to restrict pot cultivation or cannabis industry operations.

With billionaires now readying to fund legalization efforts, some cannabis activists fear they will be left on the sidelines on an issue they pioneered and elevated to political relevance.

In the cannabis community, the Parker effort is considered the most likely to reach the ballot due to its financial clout alone. Marijuana advocacy groups such as Reform California and the Drug Policy Alliance, which until now have been pursuing initiatives of their own, are uncertain over what influence – if any – they will have on the 2016 measure.

Besides Parker, a billionaire tech executive who co-founded the file-sharing music service Napster, other likely initiative investors include wealthy heirs to the Hyatt hotel chain and Progressive insurance, according to multiple sources.” http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/california-weed/article40785093.html

“Former Facebook President Sean Parker has put another $1.25 million into the campaign for Proposition 64, the initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California, bringing his total contributions so far to $2.5 million, according to records released Thursday.”

Jacob Bloom

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