Pubdate: Wed, 06 Oct 2010
Source: Daily Bruin (UCLA, CA Edu)
Copyright: 2010, ASUCLA Student Media
Author: Shoshee Jau
Cited: Proposition 19
Bookmark: (Proposition 19)


Pro or Against, Both Sides Agree Prop. 19's Method of Legalizing
Cannabis Is Far From Ideal

If passed, Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act
of 2010, will allow California residents to grow marijuana for private
use or purchase the drug at local grocery stores.

The item was first placed on the California ballot last March by
medical marijuana provider Richard Lee, and the proposition will be on
the ballot next month.

According to Yes on 19 spokesman Dan Newman, the initiative is a
logical response to California's "failed war" on the drug.

Though previous legislation under Proposition 215 only legitimized
marijuana use for medical purposes, the drug remains popular in the
recreational drug scene as well. Easily obtained and often overlooked
by some police, the drug is prevalent in California in spite of
current state and national policies, Newman said.

"Essentially, the war against marijuana has failed - it's easier for a
teenager to buy pot than beer," he said. "That's why you have police
on the front lines of the failed marijuana war who are out to tax it
like alcohol and tobacco, which will generate millions of dollars and
allow police to target violent crime and put street cartels out of

Yet because the proposition also allows private cultivation of the
plant in a 25-square-foot space per person, the commercialization of
the drug may not result in the overflow of money speculated by
proponents, said Patrick Murphy, politics professor at the University
of San Francisco.

"We have no idea what the market is for medical marijuana now," Murphy
said. "That is an unknown number, and I'm troubled by the fact that we
don't know. We should have a handle on (that) if we're changing the
policy right now and seeking out benefits."

The aftermath of the proposition, if passed, remains ambiguous at
best, said Roger Salazar, spokesman for No on 19. Even if the item is
approved, the execution may be shabby because there is no standard for
enforcement or common leadership, he said. Regulations will be decided
by local governments and municipalities, creating a different set of
rules for each county.

"The initiative doesn't provide control regulations, leaving complete
and utter chaos as to how to deal with it," Salazar said. "The rules
and regulations will be left to a patchwork of 536 local entities.
This initiative is about passing off the system, which creates a
free-for-all we won't be able to walk back from."

According to Mark Kleiman, professor of public policy at the UCLA
School of Public Affairs, the proposition's defiance against the
federal Controlled Substances Act may potentially create problems for
California, which will likely sell marijuana at a lower price than
illegal dealers in other states.

"Legalizing marijuana by making it a commercial product like alcohol
is the wrong way to do it, because it will create an industry that
profits addiction," Kleiman said. "California will now become the
center of (selling) marijuana all over the country. (Therefore), I'd
like to see cannabis legalized, allowing people to grow their own, but
not operating on commercial sale."

But some worry that the promotion of recreational marijuana use will
undermine the medical marijuana industry. However, the integrity of
medical institutions will keep dispensaries in business, said Susan
Leahy, manager of The Farmacy, an herbal medicine dispensary in Westwood.

"I feel the legalization of cannabis will not hurt us, because our
patients know that we are an organic and safe place to shop," Leahy
said. "I feel that not passing Prop. 19 would be more of a stigma
against us because we deal with it being a medical issue here."

Ultimately, the outcome of the proposition will be based on the number
of young people who vote, Murphy said.

"Those most likely to support it are least likely to turn to the
polls; 18- to 24-year-olds don't go to the polls," he said. "There's
not much on the ballot to get them excited. The more conservative
folks, older folks who are more against it are more likely to go to
the polls. And stoners are really unmotivated." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake