California has been a beacon of hope on the cannabis frontier since the state first decided to start decriminalizing it in the 1970s, leading to medical legalization in 1996 with Proposition 215. Now in 2016, half the states plus the District of Columbia have begun to loosen their grip on ganja, opening the floodgates of opportunity for our country’s economy and our people’s health.
More and more citizens and physicians are becoming privy to the benefits that cannabis can provide to a troubled world, so it’s apparent that the time is now to take a major step forward. The next proposition on the table has the potential to really set things in stone for cannabis.
The people of California, backed by some supportive government officials and innovators within the cannabis industry, have drafted Proposition 64. This 62-page document outlines exactly how legalizing cannabis for adult discretionary (a.k.a. “recreational”) consumption within the state will work, while proactively tackling some of the problems that could occur later on down the line. Condensed down to the essentials, per BallotPedia, Prop 64 would change state law by:
…allow(ing) adults aged 21 years old or older to possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes. The measure would create two new taxes, one levied on cultivation and the other on retail price. Revenue from the taxes would be spent on drug research, treatment, and enforcement, health and safety grants addressing marijuana, youth programs, and preventing environmental damage resulting from illegal marijuana production.
Billions of reasons to legalize
The proposition covers regulations, taxes, revenue spending, who would be allowed to sell cannabis, and penalties for people breaking the newly established laws. With all that in place, experts believe the amount of money that could be generated by this going successfully could be in the BILLIONS of dollars. This would also lead to the decriminalization of non-violent “offenders” whose only “crime” was related to the plant. After all, it isn’t cheap keeping people behind bars.
More than anything else, people would have even more support from their state when it comes to getting the health care that they want, need, and deserve without fear of repercussion. But there are still those who think now isn’t the time for cannabis consumers to get this kind of freedom within California. Those opposing Proposition 64 think everyone may be jumping the gun.
Is California ready?
There are some, like political consultant Andrew Acosta, who lean toward a more drawn-out conclusion to recreational cannabis legalization. In a recently televised interview with NBC, Acosta expressed concerns that the “Green Rush” was blinding people to holes in Prop 64, particularly about how edibles and DUIs will be handled. He also insinuated that Prop 64 was more or less just a money-making proposition, rather than a true long-term solution. Acosta explained that there is a package of laws that were “drafted by law enforcement, environmentalists, and industry to tackle medical marijuana. They were signed by the governor but have not yet taken effect.” It could be as late as 2018 before those laws are active.
Political consultant and strategist Jason Kinney stands with Proposition 64 and expressed concerns in the same forum about the thousands of incarcerated citizens and millions of dollars spent in that same broken legal system for cannabis-related “crimes”. He spoke on support coming from many different organizations so that “we have a real working medical marijuana system and real non-medical system, and those two things will be regulated together.” This, in essence, would help cover all the bases necessary to make this a well-oiled machine for years to come, with emphasis on legalization over decriminalization because there are still some issues with the latter.
Only time will tell what the future holds for California. But it’s clear to see that the ripple will be in full effect well beyond November of 2016.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garyn Angel is an inventor, award-winning financial consultant, and CEO of MagicalButter.com, maker of the botanical extractor he invented for infusing cannabis into foods. Firmly committed to needed legal reform, Angel was named to the exclusive CNBC NEXT List of visionary global business leaders for his work on legal marijuana. He is also founder of the Cheers to Goodness Foundation, a charity that helps “medical refugees”—mainly veterans and children—who need herbal therapy when traditional treatment options have failed.