- Posted by Erica Treeby
- On October 3, 2016
- ballot, breaking, California, cannabis, criminal, cultivation, legalization, marijuana, personal consumption, Proposition 64, recreational use, taxes, vote
Among the seventeen ballot propositions set to be decided by California’s voters on November 8, is Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which is also referred to as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act.” If approved, Proposition 64 would legalize cannabis for recreational use. Under the proposed law, adults over the age of 21 would be permitted to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis, and cultivate a maximum of six plants; distribution and retail sales of recreational cannabis would also be regulated. Additionally, industrial hemp could be grown as an agricultural product. Local governments are given the option of banning recreational cannabis businesses within their jurisdiction.
Although California was the first state to permit marijuana use for medical purposes, it has fallen behind Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, which have already approved cannabis for recreational use. The last time California’s voters were tasked with deciding whether to legalize marijuana was in 2010 – Proposition 19 fell short with a final tally of 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent. Some polls indicate that legalization proponents may be victorious this time around, however. In recent polls conducted by the Institute of Government Studies, and Smith Johnson Research, support for marijuana legalization reached 63.8 percent and 56 percent, respectively.
If Proposition 64 passes this Fall, the State’s tax revenues are expected to surge–the new law is set to impose a 15 percent tax on retail sales, along with cultivation taxes of $9.25 per ounce of bud and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Medical cannabis will be exempt from some of the taxation. A substantial portion of the tax revenue is required to be spent for specific purposes, such as substance abuse treatment and prevention, law enforcement, youth programs and environmental protection.
Among the potential fiscal benefits of legalizing marijuana are the reduced costs related to a decline in the expected number of marijuana offenders held in state prisons and county jails. The measure would change state penalties for many marijuana related crimes. For example, selling marijuana for non-medical purposes is currently punishable by up to four years in county jail or state prison. However, under the new law, selling marijuana without a license would be a crime generally punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Furthermore, an individual currently serving a sentence for a marijuana-related crime, which is made legal or subject to a lesser penalty would be eligible for re-sentencing.