Pubdate: Sat, 11 Sep 2010
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Cited: Proposition 19
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Proposition 19)


Proposition 19 on the Nov. 2 state ballot would make it legal for 
adults to possess and grow marijuana in California. It also would 
permit cities and counties to tax marijuana and allow its sale.

The initiative is loosely written, leaving major gaps in how such a 
significant policy shift would be implemented and enforced. Because 
Proposition 19 fails to address important, basic questions, The Star 
considers it an incomplete proposal that voters should reject.

But we don't mean to say it's a crackpot idea. There could be actual 
benefits from taxing and regulating the sale of cannabis. Supporters 
of Proposition 19 may want to try again later with a fully developed plan.

In the meantime, voters should nix Proposition 19. Backers of the 
measure say it would generate billions of dollars in tax revenue for 
state and local governments, but that prediction is questionable for 
at least a couple of reasons.

First, Proposition 19 fails to address its conflict with federal law, 
which will continue to treat marijuana as illegal. Federal 
authorities could challenge the ability of local and state 
governments to receive revenue from an activity that's illegal under 
federal law.

Second, though it might dampen illegal sales of marijuana, it 
wouldn't end the black market altogether. It would remain illegal for 
those under the age of 21 to buy or use marijuana, and those 21 and 
older might buy it illegally to avoid taxes or because legal sales 
would be limited to one ounce at a time.

If approved by a majority of voters, Proposition 19 would legalize 
the possession and private consumption of less than an ounce of 
marijuana, and would make it legal to grow marijuana in an area of up 
to 25 square feet at an individual's residence.

The ballot measure would result in a patchwork of city-by-city, 
county-by-county regulations on sales, transportation, cultivation 
and consumption -- with different tax rates and rules, making 
enforcement a nightmare.

It also sets up costly legal battles and public-safety concerns. It 
doesn't specify whether renters or landlords would have the final say 
on using rental property to grow cannabis; it neglects to address 
appropriate state taxes and how those revenues would be used; and it 
permits passengers in a car to use marijuana, yet fails to set a 
standard for driver impairment, like the 0.08 blood-alcohol level for DUI.

Proposition 19 is sketchy and flawed. The Star recommends voting no.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake