California Prop 19 pulls together strange, green bedfellows

Medical Marijuana

Some medical marijuana growers and salespeople are arguing against Prop 19 in California. Image: Wikimedia Commons

California’s Prop 19 has a little bit of everything that has made the 2010 election season interesting. The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act, Proposition 19 on the California ballot, is up for a vote. Here is an overview of the arguments about California’s Prop 19.

The basics of Prop 19

Prop 19 would, in short, make recreational marijuana use legal in California. The voter initiative, if passed, would allow anyone 21 years of age or older to “possess, cultivate or transport marijuana for personal use.” Any local government would be given the right to regulate and tax any part of the marijuana industry. It would also be illegal to smoke in public while anyone younger than 21 was present, and driving while under the influence would be illegal.

Tax argument for Prop 19

One major argument for Prop 19 is the potential tax revenue for California. Not only would Prop 19 remove the more than $1 billion cost of enforcing anti-marijuana laws, it would create about $1.3 billion in tax revenue. In a state that has cut paychecks to minimum wage to make ends meet, that amount of money could help the state keep paying its employees.

States’ rights argument for Prop 19

Many conservative groups are supporting California’s Prop 19, not specifically for the legalization of marijuana, but for states’ rights. Conservative groups say that the United States federal government has no place regulating intoxicants. For Tea Party groups, Prop 19 is proving to be a question of state and individual rights.

Growers arguing against Prop 19

The debate against passing California’s Proposition 19 is getting some support from unusual groups. Some producers and sellers of medical marijuana have spoken out against passing Proposition 19 in California. They believe that if marijuana is legal for recreational use, the medical market will be harmed. Not only could the price of marijuana drop, but their business could face high taxes for a medical product.

You can read more about California’s Prop 19 in this two-part series on the initiative. In the end, Proposition 19 brings up lots of tough issues for California residents. How do you plan to vote?

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