Pubdate: Sat, 04 Sep 2010
Source: Auburn Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Gold Country Media
Author: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer


Is the Proposition 19 pot initiative going to harm or help California?

Proponents like Dale Sky Jones, executive chancellor of Oakland's 
Oaksterdam University, contend passage of the proposition will save 
hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars now wasted on enforcing the failed 
prohibition of cannabis.

But Sacramento attorney John Lovell, whose current clients include the 
California Police Chiefs Association, points to a coalition of law 
enforcement organizations and argues that the threat of losing significant 
federal funding should be a deal-killer in itself.

And Bishop Ron Allen, CEO of Sacramento's International Faith Based 
Coalition, says he fears that passage of the initiative will create more 
young addicts because of the strength of today's pot.

The three were in Auburn for a recent debate organized by the Auburn 
Democratic Club.

Prop. 19 is on the Nov. 2 ballot. According to Yes On 19, which is backing 
the proposition, it's carefully written to control marijuana like alcohol, 
allowing adults 21 and over in California to possess up to an ounce. Pot 
could be consumed at home or in licensed establishments while the new law 
would give state and local governments the ability to tax its sale for 
adult consumption.

Jones, whose school teaches medicinal marijuana cultivation, said 
California's current policy has failed.

"The free-for-all is now," she said. "We have an opportunity for safe 
communities. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted enforcing 
the failed prohibition of cannabis."

Lovell told an audience of about 50 on Thursday night that the 
proposition's language is so poorly worded that voters don't even need to 
get to the philosophical arguments of pot to be against it.

Of particular concern to organizations like the California Chamber of 
Commerce is language that could circumvent employers being eligible for 
federal contracts worth an estimated $31 billion and schools losing $9.4 
billion. Lovell said language in the proposition would leave California 
employers no longer eligible to receive federal government grants. But 
Jones said that threat does not exist.

Allen, a self-professed recovering crack addict, said that pulling back the 
threat of consequences for smoking marijuana that are now enforced won't 
solve any problems.

"This is not about medical marijuana   that's another debate," Allen said. 
"This is about just for fun and getting high. How do you educate an 
intoxicated mind?"

With alcohol, people can self-regulate with a drink or two in a social 
setting but with marijuana, the intent is to get high, he said.

"We need to have jobs and more education   not legalize another dope in the 
community," he said.

But Jones said children are already getting as high as they want on 
marijuana and because it's unregulated, it's easier for them to get than 

"It's already more accessible than any other drugs," she said.

Audience members said they appreciated the opportunity to learn more about 
Prop. 19.

"It was a very healthy discussion," said Auburn's Joe Marman. "I think 
legalization will cause a more sensible measure of control of the use of 

Heidi Van Zant of Auburn said the turnout showed people cared about the issue.

"It's certainly a passionate and personal issue," she said. "I'm still 
making up my mind and learning more about the proposition."

Auburn's Larry W. Smith said the community needs more discussion's similar 
to Thursday's.

"People were civil," Smith said. "I'm in favor of legalization. There are 
concerns but as she (Dale Sky Jones) said, the present policies are nothing 
short of insane."

No on Prop. 19's list of supporters includes:

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the California District Attorneys 
Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Police 
Chiefs Association, Attorney General and Democratic Party gubernatorial 
candidate Jerry Brown, Association of California School Administrators and 
Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

Source: No on Prop. 19

Yes on 19's endorsements include:

National Black Police Association, retired U.S. Surgeon General Dr. 
Joycelyn Elders, Berkeley City Council, Oakland City Council, West 
Hollywood City Council, California NAACP, California Young Democrats, ACLU 
of Northern and Southern California, Placer County Democratic Party, Latino 
Voters league, California Council of Churches IMPACT.

Source: Yes on 19
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D