Yesterday, the Modesto Bee, the daily newspaper of record for Stanislaus County and surrounding areas, officially endorsed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which will be on the statewide ballot in November.
Along with the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News and the East Bay Times, it is yet another daily newspaper in the state to endorse the more comprehensive and restrictive Proposition 64 after having opposed the most recent attempt to legalize marijuana in California, Proposition 19 in 2010.
With the headline: “Time to get weed industry under control; pass Prop 64,” the editorial makes the strong case that Proposition 64’s strict regulations will bring what is already a widely-prevalent but mostly illicit industry out of the shadows, where it can be controlled, tracked, traced and taxed – and its burdens offset by up to one billion in new revenue for vital state and local programs such as youth education and prevention, law enforcement and job training.
It includes quotes and embedded video from California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who was the first California elected statewide official to appear in person before the Modesto Bee editorial board since 2010.
Walk through virtually any Valley downtown and encounter drug-addled people slouching in the shadows – and know our ability to help them is severely constrained by so many other pressing needs.
Proposition 64 won’t make any of these scenarios worse; most it could make better.
“I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to smell it; I’m worried that big tobacco becomes big marijuana,” said Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom while visiting our editorial board. That’s precisely why he is front-and-center in advocating for Prop 64. He insists it provides safeguards, limits, off-ramps and – most important – local control.
“We don’t believe this should become California’s next Gold Rush,” said Newsom.
It must not. California’s Gold Rush was a lawless, brutal time, turning mining camps and especially our biggest cities into dangerous hellholes. With weed’s growing black-market acceptance – and law enforcement’s inability to curb it – the problems of violence, theft, poisoning from additives and control of the industry by drug cartels could become an unstoppable nightmare without Prop 64.
“There are consequences to not doing anything,” said Newsom.
Many have worried, reasonably, about issues Colorado has encountered since legalization in 2014 – children enticed with bright packaging, no dosage information on edibles, intoxicated drivers, pushing for even laxer laws and fewer regulations. Others are concerned too many black and Latino citizens with felony convictions will be barred from a crazy-lucrative new industry. Still others decry insufficient anti-marijuana education provisions.
But Proposition 64 addresses each issue. Packaging will be controlled and dulled down; dosage information must be prominent; those convicted only of non-violent drug crimes won’t be barred. And 60 percent of new taxes will go into drug education; 20 percent to law enforcement.
No, the 50-page proposition (compared to Colorado’s 10) can’t anticipate all problems; there will be others. Fortunately, counties and cities will have a say in how they introduce and control cannabis sales – to the point of banning it. Don’t forget, unlike many counties, Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties currently ban medical marijuana sales.
But jurisdictions choosing to opt out won’t share in a tax bonanza – money spent directly to enhance healthcare, education and law enforcement. And opting out won’t keep the problems away. People will drive to the nearest legal county to buy their weed; some will consume it on the way home. Then what?
We shouldn’t handcuff ourselves by opting out. We should, however, be extremely careful in where we permit marijuana to be sold. County and city officials are already crafting what we hope becomes uniform permitting rules.
Finally, we know a lot of people are going to get extremely wealthy selling drugs. It’s no different from a lot of people getting wealthy selling wine – both have drawbacks and dangers.
But the people getting wealthy from recreational marijuana will be paying taxes. They won’t be cartel members…
Polling shows Proposition 64 is entirely likely to pass. It should.
Proposition 64 is a consensus measure based on recognized best practices and recommendations from hundreds of engaged citizens and organizations. It includes strong safeguards for children, workers, local governments and small businesses and strict anti-monopoly provisions and the toughest warning label and marketing-to-kids laws in the nation.
It is supported by the California Academy of Preventative Medicine and the California Medical Association — as well as a bipartisan group of federal, state and local elected officials, and an unprecedented coalition including environmental leaders, business owners, small farmers, civil rights groups, public safety experts and social justice advocates.