Pubdate: Fri, 24 Sep 2010
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Zeke Barlow
Cited: Proposition 19
Bookmark: (Proposition 19)


No matter if advocates were arguing whether or not to decriminalize 
marijuana or debating whether or not to go forward with California's 
attempts to curb greenhouse gases, the root of all arguments came 
down to numbers.

How many jobs will a proposition create? How many will it destroy? 
How many people smoke marijuana every day? How much would legalized 
marijuana cost the healthcare industry? At a Thursday debate on 
propositions 23 and 19 put on by the Ventura County Civic Alliance 
and the League of Women Voters of Ventura County at California 
Lutheran University's Oxnard facility, passion over the issues ran 
high as advocates for both sides of the issues tried to persuade the 
roughly 30 people in the audience to vote their way on Nov. 2.

After each side made an opening statement, the audience asked 
questions read by moderator Timm Herdt, the Star's Sacramento bureau chief.

Damian Jones with the Proposition 23 measure, which would suspend AB 
32, a law that would reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020, 
led off the discussion. The bill would postpone implementation of the 
law until the state has unemployment at or below 5 percent for four 
consecutive quarters.

"Proposition 23 is not about AB 32, it's about a different number and 
that number is 12.2 percent," he said. Jones argued that when the 
state is facing 12.2 percent unemployment, it is not the time to put 
more regulations on businesses. He said businesses would suffer under 
the new law.

When asked why the biggest financial backers of the law were Texas 
oil companies, he said that like many other companies that do 
business in California, they, too, have an interest in what happens 
the state. He argued that his proposition is not about debating 
climate change, but whether this is the right time to regulate the 
pollution that causes it.

"Not right now, not right here, not at this time," he said in his 
closing statements.

But Sen. Fran Pavley, who wrote the bill and defended it at 
Thursday's debate, argued that is precisely the right time to 
implement the bill.

She said that $10 million dollars in new venture capital money has 
come into the state since the bill passed in 2006 and that as the 
clean energy jobs market expands, the jobs are going to come to 
California. She cited three alternative fuel car companies that are 
building facilities in the state. AB 32 is a cornerstone of the 
state's green economy and the jobs that would come with it, she said.

"How we create jobs in a global economy is directly relevant on 
voting now on Proposition 23," she said.

When Jones argued that California would be the only state with such a 
law while others continued to pollute, Pavley said California has 
often been the leader in clean air laws, including increased fuel 
efficiency and installing catalytic converters.

"California is in the unique place in time to make a difference," she said.

Next came the debate over Proposition 19, which would make it legal 
for people 21 and older to possess one ounce of marijuana. Individual 
jurisdictions would have the right to allow it to be sold or not.

Lisa Sawoya argued that much like alcohol prohibition failed, so have 
the current marijuana laws. She said that while Mexican drug cartels 
control much of the current marijuana market and law enforcement 
officials nationally arrested 61,000 people for marijuana possession 
last year, more than 100 million Americans said they tried the drug.

"You must agree that cannabis prohibition has not worked," she said. 
She argued that passing the proposition will create jobs and generate 
billions in tax dollars. People are going to smoke marijuana if it's 
legal or not, so it is better to be regulated and taxed, she argued.

But Alexandra Datig said that making marijuana legal would increase 
drugged driving and lead to more serious drug use and increased 
health costs. She said it is a gateway drug in which people will 
start smoking marijuana and eventually move onto harder drugs. She 
said that when the state has financial problems, more people smoking 
pot is not a good thing.

"Being broke and stoned in the state that California is in doesn't 
fly with me," she said. "We have better things to do than get stoned. 
This is not an innocent drug." 
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