Yesterday, California voters passed Proposition 64, legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state. While law enforcement expressed displeasure, other people think the legalization could help shake up California’s criminal justice system in a positive way. California’s legalization move could also pave the way for other states to legalize the drug.
Instead of treating marijuana possession and recreational use as a crime, California law will now regulate and tax marijuana as it does alcohol. Under Proposition 64, Californians can buy, possess, transport, and use as much as one ounce of cannabis. They can also cultivate as much as six cannabis plants. The measure applies to adults 21 and older. There will be a 15 percent tax on marijuana sales in retail stores, and California fiscal analysts think the criminal justice system in the state might save $100 million every year under the measure.
California Police Chiefs Association President Ken Corney said his organization was disappointed the proposition passed and would look for “legislative solutions” to what they see as flaws in the measure like “lack of prosecutorial tools for driving under the influence of marijuana.”
California legalized medical marijuana about 20 years ago, and the legalization of recreational marijuana could significantly change how many people are imprisoned in California. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 46.4 percent of federal inmates in the United States are in prison for drug offenses. Drug Policy Alliance State Director Lynne Lyman said in the past the prohibition of marijuana “disproportionally impacted communities of color.” California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom told the Los Angeles Times, “I think it’s the beginning of the end of the war on marijuana…I think it will have repercussions internationally, particularly in Mexico and Latin America. And there are a million people who tomorrow can begin the process of clearing their records.”
Nevada and Massachusetts voters also legalized marijuana, and it appears Maine voters will too. Arizona voters rejected a measure to legalize marijuana. Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana voters passed medical marijuana measures.
Via the Los Angeles Times