This November, Californians have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.
Full disclosure: I make my living from the medicinal cannabis industry; if this law passes, I lose my job.
In 1996 Californians passed medical pot by a 58/42 majority. That initiative was powered by a movement. The current initiative does not have a movement, it has an industry. Industry is good for raising money, but not so good at get out the vote activities. The current initiative is polling at about 44%.
It seems that Prop 19 was written by a small group of people, another thing that sets it apart from 215. The concerns of the community were never aired, let alone considered. As a result, there are a lot of people whom one would expect to be for legalizing pot, who have come out against it. [One striking example is Dennis Peron, the mover and shaker who got us medical pot.]
Ok, so that answers the question of the title of this post, because it won’t pass. But let’s assume it does pass.
If you look at the text of Prop 215 you will note that it is but a single page long. A straight forward, no frills, easily understood initiative. Compare that to Prop 19, 6 dense pages that requires a legal degree to understand. Look at how the courts had to interpret Prop 215 at each step along the way, then imagine the field day the courts will have with 19 [Maybe we should call it the The Attorney Full Employment Act]
Then there is the little problem of the federal government. Prop 215 used weasel words (recommendation instead of prescription) to avoid direct conflict with the feds. The current initiative takes no such steps, they seem to invite federal intervention. The Federal Controlled Substances Act supersedes state law making the cultivation or sales of marijuana a felony. If this law is passed, numerous injunctions will be filed on the very next day.
The initiatives authors could have avoided this. A simple decriminalization would have flown under the fed’s radar. It would have maintained the cottage industry that has sprung up as a result of 215. It would have been simple and unambiguous. Further, waiting for the presidential election would have ensured good turnout to aid in getting it passed.
But this initiative’s author(s) were so blinded by profits and consolidation of the industry that they failed to see that they were setting the marijuana movement back 10 years. By this rash and greedy action, we all suffer. It does not matter if the law passes or not, the movement is pinched and stunted just the same.
I don’t vote, so that saves the quandary of how I should vote on the initiative. [Hint: Tax, Control, and Regulate are not my favorite key words] I mostly stay neutral when discussing it. I figure that to actively oppose it would require that I quit my job if it failed to pass.
All the hand wringing that the clubs, the growers, the blacks, the rural areas, the south, or the whoever is going to spoil the vote turns out to be nonsense. The culprits are the initiative’s sponsors, this is the wrong law at the wrong time. Unfortunate but true.
Edit: So I got a call from someone who had read this asking if I was really against the initiative. I’m not really against it, I am neutral. I just think its backers fucked the rest of us over. To be clear, I SUPPORT THE FULL LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA, I like pot. Unfortunately, this initiative will not give us legal marijuana. Prop 215 was all about the patients, Prop 19 is ALL about greed and consolidation of the industry. One was an initiative of the people, the other is an initiative of the corporate marijuana industry (created by prop 215). As an anarchist, I obviously will not vote for or against it. It DOES NOT MATTER if this law passes, it will not make marijuana legal. If I don’t think it matters if it passes, if I think the attempt screwed us–win or lose; that leaves me agnostic on the initiative. Got it?