Why You Should Vote YES on PROPOSITION 19, the California "Control & Tax Cannabis" Initiative
CANNABIS CULTURE - For the first time in US history, there is a state initiative to legalize marijuana possession, use, and production for all adults: the California Control & Tax Cannabis Initiative, which will appear on the November election ballot as Proposition 19. Unfortunately, there are some "marijuana activists" who are aggressively opposing the brilliant initiative. In this article I will address some of the myths being told about this initiative, and why I fully support it.
But first, let me explain that opponents of Richard Lee's initiative fall into three groups. The first group is the police and prison industry, represented by their unions and spokespeople. These are the system exploiters who have profited greatly and built power bases at the expense of the people. These are our archenemies, people who think it’s okay making a buck by arresting, strip-searching, incarcerating, harassing, and jailing ordinary cannabis consumer and home-growers. They are destroying our constitutional freedoms, seizing our kids, and forcing the cost of marijuana up to immoral prices as part of their love affair with prohibition.
The second group includes the cartels, thugs, street gangs, large commercial growers, commercial medical marijuana growers and their dependents that make exploitative profits taking full advantage of prohibition-inflated prices. They correctly surmise that when every adult in California can make all the homegrown cannabis an individual can produce in 25 square feet, the need for them and their rip-off prices evaporates. Like, gone, baby gone. And with home grows legal, police will target the exploiter large scale grows. Who needs their $350- to $450-per-ounce cannabis when we can all safely and legally grow our own weed at home for about $12.50 an ounce?
The third group is the so-called old guard of the cannabis or medical marijuana movement. The wonderful Proposition-215 pioneer Denis Peron is one, but there are many others. Their opposition is entirely trivial and irrational. It stems from a professional jealousy that a successful, compassionate man like Richard Lee (who has provided over a million dollars of his well-earned money to support this initiative) is doing it without their blessing. No one asked Dennis Peron's permission. Dennis is a hero to the pot movement and has done a great deal to provide marijuana to medical users, but it seems he feels the world of activism has passed him by – because it has, and he's jealous.
Perhaps the most loathsome aspect of this debate is the opposition by those large commercial exploiter growers, cartels, "compassionate" medical growers who charge $3,500 - $4,500 a pound wholesale and profit immensely from prohibition, as they have allied themselves with the most cynical and exploitative members of the prohibitionist regime: the cops and the prison industry. I can expect all of the previously mentioned vested interests to contribute big money to the no campaign, which is tragic and unfortunate. That an elder statesman like Dennis Peron is lending false testimony to this campaign against the greatest anti-prohibition initiative put to voters in US history is a sad state of affairs.
I will go through the points asserted by the naysayers and reveal that all are trivial and irrelevant sham arguments. I will point out that the real issue here is the fear these commercial exploiter growers have that their market will utterly dry up. At $12.50 an ounce for your own homegrown, who will pay their rip-off prices anymore? Almost no one, and this has them rightly panicked. Well, I say screw any greedy growers whose love of money is greater than their love of marijuana, and you should too by voting for THE CONTROL & TAX CANNABIS INITIATIVE this November.
COMPLAINT #1: THIS BILL ISN'T REALLY LEGALIZATION
Proposition 215, passed by California voters in November 1996, did not change medical marijuana laws federally, but it was still the most significant ballot initiative in the history of prohibition in the United States. While one might say it was a half measure – hardly legalization, as we understand the word – it demonstrated a process that has been guiding us inevitably (though with much kicking and screaming by both prohibitionists and purists in the movement) towards a freer, brighter future for cannabis users, at least in the state of California.
But look what an example will do! Because of California’s adoption of Proposition 215, there are 14 states and Districts in the US with medical marijuana laws, and 20 more are developing legislation or ballot initiatives leading to a medical marijuana law. Yet the federal government acknowledged none of it until last year when Obama's Justice Department agreed not to oppose or harass any state marijuana initiatives passed by the people contrary to federal law.
Even though federal law still prohibits cannabis, Proposition 215 provided protection to the current 500,000 Californians who possess medical marijuana exemptions. But that law still forbids any healthy person from cultivating, possessing or distributing non-medical cannabis – a group of adults 21 and over that numbers over 31 million in the Golden State.
With 14 states and districts having a medical marijuana statute, about 2 million Americans now have some form of local or state protection against prosecution under state law. While Proposition 215 was only providing protection to a very small number of people, the idea of it spread to other states and is a rallying cry across the land. Proposition 215 cannot even be considered a step towards true legalization; it was a step towards "exemption" from state law that applied to very few people, until recently. Nonetheless, the armor of the drug war was breached and more activism in the US has flowed from the success of 215 than any other single incident in our movement. Yet, since 1996, thousands of Californians have still gone to jail for producing cannabis, selling cannabis, and possessing cannabis. Proposition 215 has very limited application under state law. This 2010 legalization initiative will broaden the scope of protection to include EVERY ADULT 21 and over.
When naysayers claim that Richard Lee's brave, brilliant and shrewd initiative is not legalization as anyone understands it, they are wrong. Legalization to me (and many others) means any individual can grow it, possess it and smoke it in the privacy of their own home. This initiative does precisely that. Sure, there are minor penalties for smoking outside, but Amsterdam has the same penalties for outdoor consumption too. Do we think of Amsterdam, or rather The Netherlands, as a bastion of prohibitionist oppression? No, of course not. Hundreds of thousands of Americans travel to Amsterdam every year to experience a legal taxed, regulated environment where tourists and the Dutch alike can buy it (taxed), carry it home, or smoke it in private property. The Dutch cannot grow 25 square feet of pot however, so this California initiative would make California far more free and accessible to cannabis that Amsterdam is today and ever was – but only if Californians vote for this initiative.
Is it perfect? Perhaps not – and ask yourself, “perfect according to whom?” because everyone cannot possibly agree on one ideal solution. But it will be the most liberal regime in the entire world, if passed! It allows each adult, 21 and older, to grow 25 square feet of pot. With just one 1,000-watt light, you can produce at least one pound of pot or more every 10 weeks; that’s 80 ounces for every man and woman 21 and over! (And it’s illegal for young people to possess or smoke marijuana now, but they still manage to do it; why wouldn’t that continue to be the situation if the initiative passes?)
The cost of producing your 5 pounds annually is $1,000 ($300 for 1,000-watt light, $200 for pots, soil and nutrients, and $500 for electricity). That’s $12.50 per ounce for your own legal home garden! Then you can carry an ounce of it anywhere, and smoke it in your house, at your friends house, at a club, in your yacht, in any privately owned and contained space! $12.50 an ounce for cannabis that doesn't need to be rushed, can be flushed however long is required, that you can confirm has no pesticides or herbicides – that will be the best cannabis you've ever smoked!
The criticism that this initiative heavily regulates a now "unregulated" environment invites comparisons to The Netherlands. There, the marijuana sales are taxed, regulated, and controlled by the state, yet every American thinks that it is paradise. The Richard Lee initiative provides for homegrown access to every adult 21 and over, which is not available in the Netherlands. In fact, there is nothing in this initiative that makes California any less than Amsterdam, and there is a great deal more in this ballot initiative that goes well beyond the regime in the Netherlands.
This portrait of California as currently being some almost-legal paradise that will be set back if the initiative passes is absolute deception and lies. Many people are in jail right now in California for home grows, dispensaries and distribution.
Today, if you are an adult carrying an ounce, police can seize it, strip search you, use the seizure as the basis for a search warrant to search your home or car or person or handbag, and more. You face a criminal record, a fine, and potentially incarceration. All that is eliminated under this new law. For the 30-million-plus Californians without a medical exemption card, this means a world of difference. The current laws can bring on a world of hurt to anyone caught carrying one ounce. This proposed law eliminates all that if the carrier is 21 or older. Under this initiative you can't be fired from work if you smoke cannabis. Only the cartels, street gangs, and unlicensed exploiter commercial growers will see the cops more frequently – and they know it.
COMPLAINT #2: THE BILL HAS A 21 YEAR AGE LIMIT FOR CANNABIS
The proposed penalty under this bill for supplying 18- to 20-year-olds with cannabis is identical to the fine and penalty for supplying liquor or beer to 18- to 20-year-olds in California. The vast majority of cannabis consumers are 21 and over; and it allows those approximately 31 million adult Californians to grow plentiful quantities of their own homegrown, adequate for a personal supply. 25 square feet under a 1,000-watt light can produce 16 ounces every 10 weeks. It's possible two lights can be suspended above that 25 square feet, producing up to 32 ounces every 10 weeks, so it is not inadequate to the most demanding personal or medical needs.
COMPLAINT #3: YOU CAN'T TOKE OUTDOORS OR IN THE PRESENCE OF MINORS
The initiative doesn't add any penalties for toking outdoors in the same space as minors, it merely says these things are not authorized under the bill. So whatever the current law is regarding outdoor toking or toking near minors would be the same as before the bill was passed.
However, it is not unreasonable to have minors excluded from the initiative. The opposition to the Lee Initiative often focuses on the availability of cannabis to minors. It is a small inconvenience not to have minors present when you are consuming cannabis. Minors need only be in another room while cannabis is being consumed. Cannabis is a psychoactive that travels through the air. You can't supply alcohol to minors either, because it too is regarded as a psychoactive, but alcohol is a liquid. The potential penalties are the same. Yet have you heard of any parents arrested for giving their teenage children a glass of red wine at dinner? Not often, if ever, but the law still forbids it. That will likely be the regime for cannabis. This objection is trivial, as are all the objections coming from the naysayers.
This law absolutely protects your right to privacy in your home to consume cannabis, in a private room absent any minors. It's not unreasonable to restrict consumption of cannabis to adults in any law at this point in our political evolution. It is illegal to smoke cigarettes in an enclosed space with minors. It is illegal to share alcohol with minors. Considering the incredible awesome benefits for adults 21 and over in the legislation, this is a minor inconvenience at most. For most adults without minors in the house, club or private residence, it is not an irritant at all. This aspect of the legislation may go far to reassure voters that it won't be a free-for-all for teenagers in private property, which is entirely reasonable.
Is the "right" to smoke with minors present SO important that we must deny 30 million Californians the genuine right to possess and smoke in safety in their own homes? Give me a break! If you want to campaign to lower the legal age limit of “adulthood”, that’s another initiative.
COMPLAINT #4: YOU CAN ONLY BUY FROM LICENSED DEALERS
If your neighbour is currently selling pot, it’s called trafficking and it's not a $100 fine; it means jail. If your neighbour sells cannabis after this initiative, it's still trafficking, as it is today. So there's no change there. People will most certainly be selling to their friends and neighbours.
Anyone in California can grow his or her own cannabis under this new statute. After this initiative, California will be flooded with cannabis at dramatically reduced prices. Even with a $50 an ounce tax at the retail level, the legal wholesale price should drop to about $20 an ounce, perhaps about $35 to $50-per-ounce retail (plus tax). If you can grow your own for $12.50 an ounce in your own home, even $75 to $100-per-ounce retail with all taxes may be too high for some – but much lower than it costs now. It will be an excellent value for tourists, casual smokers and gourmet tastes.
Note that no specific tax amount is suggested or mandated by Proposition 19. I have included a tax amount of $50 an ounce because that would be the highest likely tax that could reasonably be applied before consumers evaded the tax and bypassed the legal retail system. Many communities would perhaps offer much lower taxes on an ounce of marijuana, especially to compete with other jurisdictions. Tom Ammiano's bill (SB 390) before the California State Assembly mandates a $50 an ounce retail tax. Homegrown cannabis would not be subject to any tax at all.
COMPLAINT #5: CANNABIS TAXES COULD BE USED TO ENFORCE CANNABIS PROHIBITION
Taxes get spent wherever your elected representatives decide. California has a $22 billion deficit in fiscal 2010, and a total $170 billion debt in total, this situation is unsustainable. It is a fine trade-off to end prohibition and reduce prices by ten fold (or higher, if you grow your own) in exchange for a taxed and regulated system.
If you vote, then get involved in politics. Join the Republican, Democratic, or Green Party and have a say in how your taxes are spent. Sadly, many stoners and potheads don't vote, and that's why we get screwed by the political establishment. If you get involved – hell, if you just show up – you could make history this November. If you join a party, nominate a candidate, attend meetings, and write your Assemblyman, you can be part of the debate on how this new tax revenue is to be used.
Of the many terrific things that will happen once this initiative passes, which industry shills and naysayers fail to bring up, is the incredible tourist boom that will transform California. Once cannabis can be legally consumed for all individuals in the state of California, once it can bought at licensed outlets and carried around, millions and millions of Asians, Europeans, Canadians and Americans will flood into California to visit and spend, spend, spend. While buying all their favorite kinds of cannabis that they can only dream of back home, they will be spending money on hotels, restaurants, transportation and entertainment (all of which are taxed.) Dodger’s ball games and Disneyland will have a whole new attraction level!
The millions of new tourists will be spending billions of dollars in the Golden State. That will add up to 500,000 jobs, cut the unemployment and welfare costs drastically, and inject staggering sums of money into the depressed hotel and restaurant industries. Although sales of marijuana may generate only $1 - $2 billion in taxes annually, billions more in taxes will be collected on all the other aspects of tourist spending that is certain to happen.
You don't think every stoner in Missouri isn't going to save every penny he can to visit California for a week or more to smoke White Widow, Sour Diesel, Trainwreck, Purple Urkle, and every other strain in a legal environment? California will be a stoner's paradise, and the 190,000,000 potheads on this Earth (by the most recent UN calculations) will also be making pilgrimages to California. The TV ad for California tourism we've all seen, with Governor Schwarzenegger and others saying, "What are you waiting for?”, will finally have some meaning!
COMPLAINT #6: SHOPS THAT SELL CANNABIS WILL NEED TO BE LICENSED AND PAY TAXES
All businesses in modern society are licensed, regulated, taxed and audited. This will be true for the legal marijuana industry. The initiative requires licensing and zoning for cannabis dispensing businesses, which is simply no different than what’s required for a bookshop, pharmacy, movie theatre, accounting office, factory, shipyard, or any other legal business place. Every business that operates in a legal environment is regulated; that's the reality of the term "legal". If it's not regulated, it’s not legal, so there is no protection or recourse under law – and that lack of protection and accountability is what we have under prohibition.
The price of marijuana today is outrageous as a consequence of its illegality. Since Proposition 215 passed in 1996, the price of marijuana has not gone down at all; in fact, it's gone up, a sure sign that in fact Prop 215 was just a baby step, and nothing like the significant step towards legalization that this initiative is. In a legal environment, the price of cannabis will plummet, and under this initiative, prices WILL plummet as millions of home grows become productive, replacing the need for the large commercial exploiter grow-ops, the cartels, and the street gangs.
COMPLAINT #7: YOU CAN'T GROW MUCH BUD IN A 25-SQUARE-FOOT SPACE
It is the industry standard that one 1,000-watt bulb (complete kit $250-$300) can produce one pound of dry weight cannabis. With Co2 added and diligent gardening, many growers can get 1.2 to 1.4 pounds per light. A 25-square-foot space can accommodate even two 1,000-watt lights, so potential yields in that case would be 2 to 2.5 pounds every 10 weeks; that means ANY competent grower can achieve 16 to 40 ounces every 10 weeks in their space, a generous personal or medical amount by any standard.
This idea that you will just get a few ounces out of a 25 square foot space is simply more lies and spin to scare you away from supporting the initiative. Whether they know it or not, the naysayers are in league with the big commercial growers who are terrified of this initiative and want their black market protected.
This is the greatest, best ballot initiative to achieve the closest thing ever to full legalization ever put before voters anywhere in the world.
If you are a pot smoker then you will be better off, by far, if this bill passes. The only ones worse off will be gun-toting street gangs and cartels, the police and prison industry, and any exploitative commercial growers who are not honest or skilled enough to legally produce for the licensed market.
The benefit to the 31 million California adults 21 years of age and older will be legal access to their own organic, safe, homegrown at $12.50 an ounce in hugely generous personal quantities, or obtain it from professional licensed outlets who will supply an enormous array of various high-quality cannabis. Add to that the creation of about 500,000 to 1,000,000 new jobs due to the massive influx of tourists flooding California to sample to fruits of an industry 50 times larger than the wine-tasting industry!
It's clear there will be huge amounts in taxes collected from tourists and cannabis retail sales that will impact positively on the California state budget. There will be TEN-FOLD lower retail prices ($35-$50 an ounce instead of $200-$500). Even with a $50 per ounce tax, this means that the best marijuana available will be legally sold for under $100 per ounce to any adult in California. Police will instead direct their efforts at the cartels, street gangs, and unlicensed commercial growers exporting cannabis out-of-state.
As California goes, so does the rest of America. If this initiative passes, it will soon appear in other US states. And as America goes, so will the world. Canada, Europe and countries everywhere will have to end prohibition, or their people will simply flock to California and America. Legalization begets more legalization. Won't it be incredible when California is way better than Amsterdam? Wouldn't it be great if approving this initiative led to Seattle, Austin, Denver, New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, Portland and every American city being even cooler than Amsterdam?
I urge all Californians to support and VOTE for the CONTROL & TAX CANNABIS INITIATIVE of 2010. It’s the best chance we've ever had to begin changing the world, but it needs your committed support. The profiteers of prohibition – the cops, gangs, prohibitionists, and exploitative commercial growers – will be giving their prohibition profits to the NO side to protect their lucrative black market exploitation of the sick and dying, so you had better help out the good guys like Richard Lee and campaign for his brave initiative.
This is a brilliantly thought-out, shrewdly written law that is designed to get a majority of voters on board. One side of the debate wants to maintain the prohibition market and prohibition-inflated prices for cannabis, and therefore continue imprisoning and exploiting us all for their own greedy, immoral benefit. The other side wants to see legalization, much more affordable and high-quality cannabis, and an end to the suffering, imprisonment, and human rights abuses caused by prohibition. Which side are YOU on?
- Article written by Marc Emery from SeaTac Federal Detention Center in Seattle, Washington. Marc is awaiting sentencing for pleading guilty after being extradited to the USA from Canada for selling cannabis seeds and using the profits to fund the movement. Click here for more information about Marc and his current situation. Keep up to date at Facebook.com/MarcEmery and Facebook.com/JodieEmery.
More responses to criticism of the Control & Tax Cannabis Initiative
By Jodie Emery
Claim: "This initiative will put medical users and growers in prison!"
Response: Why would Richard Lee create a law that could see himself, his friends, his staff, his clients (from his dispensary), and his students (Oaksterdam University) imprisoned in greater numbers than they are now? That doesn't make any sense at all! He wouldn't have the initiative written up the way it is if there was ANY chance of him losing his personal freedom, companies, clients, students, staff, etc. He would lose TONS of money and -- if the haters are right about him being a greedy bastard -- he would be committing business suicide! That alone exposes the opponents and anti-Richard Lee exploiters as nothing but jealous, fearful, and paranoid rabblerousers.
Also, medical growers won't be limited to 5x5 spaces, so why wouldn't more and more people continue to become medical users under Prop. 215 and continue to grow large indoor and outdoor gardens? That will continue even if people vote YES for the initiative. This initiative is for people who don't want to become medical exemptees -- why should they be punished because of the unfounded fears of medical users and growers?
Claim: "Evil corporations are going to take over the market!"
Response: People tend to think all corporations are simply big, evil, monopoly empires. But consider this: the company that sells you soil for growing your plants is a corporation. The nutrients come from a corporation too. The pots you put seedlings in: corporate-made. The house you live in is entirely furnished and constructed from materials made and sold by corporations. The organic companies selling organic foods are corporations. Dr. Bronner's Hemp Soap is a corporation. Hemp Hoodlamb, Satori, Livity hemp clothing -- all corporations. Manitoba Harvest hemp food, a corporation. High Times Magazine, a corporation. Yes, the big bad Starbucks is a corporation, but so is the "Cafe Paris" or "Homestyle Cooking & Coffee" or any independent business run by individuals or partners or small groups. All companies and businesses that operate legally are corporations -- unless they are non-profit societies, which means they cannot keep the money. So, will corporations run the legal marijuana market? Yes. Is that bad? No, because individuals and two-person partnerships and small groups can all create an Incorporated Company to do business (as everyone must do for any legal business).
Claim: "Pharmaceutical companies and Universities are trying to make and patent extractions and concentrated cannabis medicine!"
Response: We are all very well aware that cannabis holds the cure for cancer and many other ailments, from epilepsy to MS to autism and almost every illness and injury. We also know that many dispensaries are creating and selling lotions, creams, hashes, oils, baked goods, tinctures, and even patches and lozenges. Why do those products exist? Because we know that certain amounts of particular cannabinoids in specific concentrations are better able to treat and relieve pain, suffering, chronic and even terminal illnesses than smoking whole buds. Cannabis holds the cure for SO much suffering, but the extent of the amazing properties cannot be obtained solely through whole-bud consumption -- hence the market for extracts and concentrations.
So what's wrong with a professional corporation (i.e. any currently-operating dispensary that simply becomes incorporated under a legal regime) creating and selling the best-quality medicinal aspects of the cannabis plant? With all of the amazing potential that cannabis holds (and a lot that we surely don't even know about yet, such as possible INSTANT cancer-curing ONE DOSE medicines -- if we can find that right balance and concentration) why on earth would anyone oppose a corporation from finding and marketing that cure? Considering that Chinese medicine and herbal medicine and other traditional, non-pharmaceutical medicine and therapy companies are VERY successful and won't disappear anytime soon, why do you think cannabis would be any different?
Why should anyone deny a terminal cancer patient the opportunity and possibility of a one-dose cannabis cure? That doesn't exist yet, but it can if there are businesses with enough money and passion to find such a miraculous cure. Would it cost more than regular cannabis bud? Yes, but in order to be successful, the companies would offer it at a price people are willing and able to pay (because if they didn't, then people wouldn't buy it, then the businesses would close down, and that goes against their mandate, of course).
Claim: "We shouldn't support any policy that requires taxation and regulation!"
Response: All legal businesses are taxed and regulated. That's the way it is! If you're not legal and taxed and regulated, then you're illegal and untaxed and unregulated. If you want cannabis to be legal, you'll have to accept taxes and regulation. If you don't want taxes and regulation, you want it to stay illegal (prohibited). We've never had legal cannabis in recent history, so people are rightfully nervous and unsure and hesitant... But here we are, and here's our choice: legal, or illegal. Regulations and taxes can change, but there are only two choices for legality: legal, or illegal. Which do you prefer?
We are not going to get a totally "free" cannabis industry right away. Marc is a Libertarian and I too believe in small government and low taxation. We both support the right to self-cultivate free from any taxation or regulation, but we can't go to that point directly from where we are now. There is an established system in place; good or bad, it's the system we live under, and we have to work within that system in order to change it. Nothing happens immediately! Barack Obama did not get elected right after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus. Progress takes time. The need to end prohibition is a battle separate from (though connected to) the need to be free from government control. Marc and I support both those battles, but one must come before the other if we want to finally reach the ideal future of freedom that we all desire.
About the Initiative
It’s Time to Reform California’s Cannabis Laws! California voters believe that our laws criminalizing cannabis (marijuana) have failed. According to a recent statewide Field Poll, a majority, 56 percent support legalizing cannabis. The time for reform is now.
The Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative will:
• Control cannabis like alcohol: Allow adults 21 and older in California to possess up to one ounce of cannabis
• Give local governments the ability to tax the sale of cannabis to adults 21 and older
• Generate billions of dollars in revenue to fund what matters most in California: jobs, healthcare, public safety, state parks, roads, transportation, and more
Q: What does the Control and Tax Cannabis Initiative do?
A: The Initiative will control cannabis just like alcohol, so adults 21 years old and above will be allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. The Initiative will also give local governments the ability to tax the sale of cannabis.
Q: Why do you think the Initiative will pass?
A: According to a recent statewide Field Poll, 56 percent of Californians support legalizing cannabis.
Q: How would the Initiative control and tax cannabis?
A: The Initiative will allow local governments to set up a system to oversee cultivation, distribution, and sales, and determine how and how much cannabis can be bought and sold within area limits. If a local government decides it does not want to control and tax the sale of cannabis, then buying and selling cannabis within area limits will remain illegal, but the possession and consumption of up to one ounce will be permitted.
Q: Is cannabis a dangerous drug?
A: Actually, cannabis has much fewer harmful effects than either alcohol or cigarettes, which are both legal for adult consumption, and taxed to support vital services. Cannabis is not physically addictive, does not have long term toxic effects on the body, and does not cause its consumers to become violent.
Q: Would controlling and taxing cannabis help our state and local governments financially?
A: Absolutely. Right now, there is an estimated $15 billion in cannabis transactions every year in California, but since cannabis remains illegal, our state sees none of the revenue. Controlling and taxing cannabis could bring in billions of dollars in revenue to help fund what matters most in California: jobs, healthcare, public safety, parks, roads, transportation, and more. The California Board of Equalization estimates that controlling and taxing cannabis could generate $1.4 billion in revenue each year: http://www.boe.ca.gov/legdiv/pdf/ab0390-1dw.pdf
Q: If we legalize, control, and tax cannabis, won’t that just lead to a lot more people using it?
A: Actually no. According to The National Research Council’s recent study of the 11 U.S. states where cannabis is currently decriminalized, there is little apparent relationship between severity of sanctions and the rate of consumption.
Q: If we legalize, control, and tax cannabis, won’t that just lead to more crime?
A: No. The illegality of cannabis enables for the continuation of an out-of-control criminal market, which in turn spawns other illegal and often violent activities. Establishing legal, controlled sales outlets would put dangerous street dealers out of business, so their influence in our communities will fade. Also, when we stop arresting thousands of non-violent cannabis consumers, we will be freeing up police resources and saving millions of dollars each year, which could be used for apprehending truly dangerous criminals and keeping them locked up.
Q: If we legalize, control, and tax cannabis, won’t that just lead to more kids using it?
A: No. First of all, the Initiative will control cannabis like alcohol, allowing only adults 21 years and older to consume cannabis. In addition, by bringing cannabis out of the shadows, and implementing a legal regulatory framework to control it, we will be better able to police and prevent access to and consumption of cannabis by minors.
Q: What effect will the Initiative have on medical marijuana laws in California?
A: None. The Initiative explicitly upholds the rights of medical marijuana patients.
Q: But won’t cannabis remain illegal under federal law?
A: Yes, but we can still pass our own state laws in California. The United States Constitution enables individual states to enact laws concerning health, morals, public welfare and safety within the state. For instance, in 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in the state. Also, 40 counties and cities in California have regulated medical cannabis without federal interference.
Q: How can I help?
A: This will be an epic battle for cannabis reform in California, and we are going to need every supporter involved. Sign up to volunteer, contribute, and get your friends involved today on our website www.TaxCannabis.org!
Q: Does the Initiative change medical cannabis laws in California?
A: No, it won’t change or affect current medical cannabis laws or protections offered to qualified patients. Patients will still be able to possess what is needed for medical use, and will retain all rights under Prop 215 and SB 420. In fact, the Initiative will clarify state law, to protect medical cannabis collectives and businesses operating responsibly under their local guidelines. Currently, the legality of medical cannabis sales is in dispute. Many cities and counties are struggling with the interpretation of SB 420, particularly around the allowance for cash transactions. As a result, these localities are unable to control and tax medical cannabis for distribution to qualified patients. The Initiative specifically grants cities and counties the ability to regulate sales for medical cannabis and commercial cultivation for safe, regulated medicine. The Initiative will also allow for research, safety testing, and potency monitoring.
Q: How will the Initiative affect patients who grow at home?
A: Patient gardens will remain legal, and protections will remain unchanged for patients who choose to grow their own medicine.
Q: How will the Initiative affect collective and cooperative cultivation?
A: The Initiative will allow for greater protection for collectives and cooperatives in storefront locations. City and county governments will now have the clearly established ability to regulate collective and/or commercial growing.
Q: If the Initiative passes, will non-medical patients have more rights than
A: No, adults 21 and over will be able to possess up to one ounce of cannabis outside of the home. Adults may only grow in a 5’x5’ area, and will have an affirmative defense to possess what they grow for personal use in that area. Patients and/or collectives will still be able to possess the amount needed for their medical use.
Q: If the Initiative passes, will it still be beneficial to be a medical cannabis patient?
A: Yes, medical patients will receive the greatest protections. Qualified patients will be allowed to possess and grow more than adults (to cover their medical needs). We also hope to see exemptions or discounts on services, and taxes to subsidize the cost to patients needing medical cannabis.
Q: Will the Initiative make it more difficult to become a medical patient?
A: No, being a medical cannabis patient will still remain private between you and your doctor.
Q: Could the Initiative affect medical cannabis growers?
A: Yes, by providing legal permits to gardens, the Initiative will also make possible the first legal commercial growing, once cannabis cultivation is regulated and permitted by either local governments or the state.
Q: Will the Initiative attract big business and cut out the little guys, and the cottage industry they have worked so hard to create?
A: The Initiative will actually give local groups an equal opportunity to obtain licenses and/or permits for the sale and cultivation of medical cannabis, adult cannabis, and hemp. Local groups can work with local governments to help determine regulations and licensing for cultivation and sales. The Initiative is also significant in that it allows for personal cultivation by adults.
The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010
Title and Summary:
Changes California Law to Legalize Marijuana and Allow It to Be Regulated and Taxed. Initiative Statute.
Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Permits local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old. Maintains current prohibitions against driving while impaired. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Savings of up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Unknown but potentially major tax, fee, and benefit assessment revenues to state and local government related to the production and sale of marijuana products.
Section 1: Name
This Act shall be known as the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.”
Section 2: Findings, Intent and Purposes
This Act, adopted by the People of the State of California, makes the following Findings and Statement of Intent and Purpose:
1. California’s laws criminalizing cannabis (marijuana) have failed and need to be reformed. Despite spending decades arresting millions of non-violent cannabis consumers, we have failed to control cannabis or reduce its availability.
2. According to surveys, roughly 100 million Americans (around 1/3 of the country’s population) acknowledge that they have used cannabis, 15 million of those Americans having consumed cannabis in the last month. Cannabis consumption is simply a fact of life for a large percentage of Americans.
3. Despite having some of the strictest cannabis laws in the world, the United States has the largest number of cannabis consumers. The percentage of our citizens who consume cannabis is double that of the percentage of people who consume cannabis in the Netherlands, a country where the selling and adult possession of cannabis is allowed.
4. According to The National Research Council’s recent study of the 11 U.S. states where cannabis is currently decriminalized, there is little apparent relationship between severity of sanctions and the rate of consumption.
5. Cannabis has fewer harmful effects than either alcohol or cigarettes, which are both legal for adult consumption. Cannabis is not physically addictive, does not have long term toxic effects on the body, and does not cause its consumers to become violent.
6. There is an estimated $15 billion in illegal cannabis transactions in California each year. Taxing and regulating cannabis, like we do with alcohol and cigarettes, will generate billions of dollars in annual revenues for California to fund what matters most to Californians: jobs, health care, schools and libraries, roads, and more.
7. California wastes millions of dollars a year targeting, arresting, trying, convicting, and imprisoning non-violent citizens for cannabis related offenses. This money would be better used to combat violent crimes and gangs.
8. The illegality of cannabis enables for the continuation of an out-of-control criminal market, which in turn spawns other illegal and often violent activities. Establishing legal, regulated sales outlets would put dangerous street dealers out of business.
1. Reform California’s cannabis laws in a way that will benefit our state.
2. Regulate cannabis like we do alcohol: Allow adults to possess and consume small amounts of cannabis.
3. Implement a legal regulatory framework to give California more control over the cultivation, processing, transportation, distribution, and sales of cannabis.
4. Implement a legal regulatory framework to better police and prevent access to and consumption of cannabis by minors in California.
5. Put dangerous, underground street dealers out of business, so their influence in our communities will fade.
6. Provide easier, safer access for patients who need cannabis for medical purposes.
7. Ensure that if a city decides not to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis, that buying and selling cannabis within that city’s limits remain illegal, but that the city’s citizens still have the right to possess and consume small amounts, except as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.
8. Ensure that if a city decides it does want to tax and regulate the buying and selling of cannabis (to and from adults only), that a strictly controlled legal system is implemented to oversee and regulate cultivation, distribution, and sales, and that the city will have control over how and how much cannabis can be bought and sold, except as permitted under Health and Safety Sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 through 11362.9.
9. Tax and regulate cannabis to generate billions of dollars for our state and local governments to fund what matters most: jobs, healthcare, schools and libraries, parks, roads, transportation, and more.
10. Stop arresting thousands of non-violent cannabis consumers, freeing up police resources and saving millions of dollars each year, which could be used for apprehending truly dangerous criminals and keeping them locked up, and for other essential state needs that lack funding.
11. Allow the Legislature to adopt a statewide regulatory system for a commercial cannabis industry.
12. Make cannabis available for scientific, medical, industrial, and research purposes.
13. Permit California to fulfill the state’s obligations under the United States Constitution to enact laws concerning health, morals, public welfare and safety within the State.
14. Permit the cultivation of small amounts of cannabis for personal consumption.
1. This Act is intended to limit the application and enforcement of state and local laws relating to possession, transportation, cultivation, consumption and sale of cannabis, including but not limited to the following, whether now existing or adopted in the future: Health and Safety Code sections 11014.5 and 11364.5 [relating to drug paraphernalia]; 11054 [relating to cannabis or tetrahydrocannabinols]; 11357 [relating to possession]; 11358 [relating to cultivation]; 11359 [possession for sale]; 11360 [relating to transportation and sales]; 11366 [relating to maintenance of places]; 11366.5 [relating to use of property]; 11370 [relating to punishment]; 11470 [relating to forfeiture]; 11479 [relating to seizure and destruction]; 11703 [relating to definitions regarding illegal substances]; 11705 [actions for use of illegal controlled substance]; Vehicle Code sections 23222 and 40000.15 [relating to possession].
2. This Act is not intended to affect the application or enforcement of the following state laws relating to public health and safety or protection of children and others: Health and Safety Code sections 11357 [relating to possession on school grounds]; 11361 [relating to minors as amended herein]; 11379.6 [relating to chemical production]; 11532 [relating to loitering to commit a crime or acts not authorized by law]; Vehicle Code section 23152 [relating to driving while under the influence]; Penal Code section 272 [relating to contributing to the delinquency of a minor]; nor any law prohibiting use of controlled substances in the workplace or by specific persons whose jobs involve public safety.
Section 3: Lawful Activities
Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, commencing with section 11300 is added to read:
Section 11300: Personal Regulation and Controls
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it is lawful and shall not be a public offense under California law for any person 21 years of age or older to:
(i) Personally possess, process, share, or transport not more than one ounce of cannabis, solely for that individual’s personal consumption, and not for sale.
(ii) Cultivate, on private property by the owner, lawful occupant, or other lawful resident or guest of the private property owner or lawful occupant, cannabis plants for personal consumption only, in an area of not more than twenty-five square feet per private residence or, in the absence of any residence, the parcel. Cultivation on leased or rented property may be subject to approval from the owner of the property. Provided that, nothing in this section shall permit unlawful or unlicensed cultivation of cannabis on any public lands.
(iii) Possess on the premises where grown the living and harvested plants and results of any harvest and processing of plants lawfully cultivated pursuant to section 11300(a)(ii), for personal consumption.
(iv) Possess objects, items, tools, equipment, products and materials associated with activities permitted under this subsection.
(b) “Personal consumption” shall include but is not limited to possession and consumption, in any form, of cannabis in a residence or other non-public place, and shall include licensed premises open to the public authorized to permit on-premises consumption of cannabis by a local government pursuant to section 11301.
(c) “Personal consumption” shall not include, and nothing in this Act shall permit cannabis:
(i) possession for sale regardless of amount, except by a person who is licensed or permitted to do so under the terms of an ordinance adopted pursuant to section 11301;
(ii) consumption in public or in a public place;
(iii) consumption by the operator of any vehicle, boat or aircraft while it is being operated, or that impairs the operator;
(iv) smoking cannabis in any space while minors are present.
Section 11301: Commercial Regulations and Controls
Notwithstanding any other provision of state or local law, a local government may adopt ordinances, regulations, or other acts having the force of law to control, license, regulate, permit or otherwise authorize, with conditions, the following:
(a) cultivation, processing, distribution, the safe and secure transportation, sale and possession for sale of cannabis, but only by persons and in amounts lawfully authorized;
(b) retail sale of not more than one ounce per transaction, in licensed premises, to persons 21 years or older, for personal consumption and not for resale;
(c) appropriate controls on cultivation, transportation, sales, and consumption of cannabis to strictly prohibit access to cannabis by persons under the age of 21;
(d) age limits and controls to ensure that all persons present in, employed by, or in any way involved in the operation of, any such licensed premises are 21 or older;
(e) consumption of cannabis within licensed premises;
(f) safe and secure transportation of cannabis from a licensed premises for cultivation or processing, to a licensed premises for sale or on-premises consumption of cannabis;
(g) prohibit and punish through civil fines or other remedies the possession, sale, possession for sale, cultivation, processing, or transportation of cannabis that was not obtained lawfully from a person pursuant to this section or section 11300;
(h) appropriate controls on licensed premises for sale, cultivation, processing, or sale and on-premises consumption, of cannabis, including limits on zoning and land use, locations, size, hours of operation, occupancy, protection of adjoining and nearby properties and persons from unwanted exposure, advertising, signs and displays, and other controls necessary for protection of the public health and welfare;
(i) appropriate environmental and public health controls to ensure that any licensed premises minimizes any harm to the environment, adjoining and nearby landowners, and persons passing by;
(j) appropriate controls to restrict public displays, or public consumption of cannabis;
(k) appropriate taxes or fees pursuant to section 11302;
(l) such larger amounts as the local authority deems appropriate and proper under local circumstances, than those established under section 11300(a) for personal possession and cultivation, or under this section for commercial cultivation, processing, transportation and sale by persons authorized to do so under this section;
(m) any other appropriate controls necessary for protection of the public health and welfare.
Section 11302: Imposition and Collection of Taxes and Fees
(a) Any ordinance, regulation or other act adopted pursuant to section 11301 may include imposition of appropriate general, special or excise, transfer or transaction taxes, benefit assessments, or fees, on any activity authorized pursuant to such enactment, in order to permit the local government to raise revenue, or to recoup any direct or indirect costs associated with the authorized activity, or the permitting or licensing scheme, including without limitation: administration; applications and issuance of licenses or permits; inspection of licensed premises and other enforcement of ordinances adopted under section 11301, including enforcement against unauthorized activities.
(b) Any licensed premises shall be responsible for paying all federal, state and local taxes, fees, fines, penalties or other financial responsibility imposed on all or similarly situated businesses, facilities or premises, including without limitation income taxes, business taxes, license fees, and property taxes, without regard to or identification of the business or items or services sold.
Section 11303: Seizure
(a) Notwithstanding sections 11470 and 11479 of the Health and Safety Code or any other provision of law, no state or local law enforcement agency or official shall attempt to, threaten to, or in fact seize or destroy any cannabis plant, cannabis seeds or cannabis that is lawfully cultivated, processed, transported, possessed, possessed for sale, sold or used in compliance with this Act or any local government ordinance, law or regulation adopted pursuant to this Act.
Section 11304: Effect of Act and Definitions
(a) This Act shall not be construed to affect, limit or amend any statute that forbids impairment while engaging in dangerous activities such as driving, or that penalizes bringing cannabis to a school enrolling pupils in any grade from kindergarten through 12, inclusive.
(b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed or interpreted to permit interstate or international transportation of cannabis. This Act shall be construed to permit a person to transport cannabis in a safe and secure manner from a licensed premises in one city or county to a licensed premises in another city or county pursuant to any ordinances adopted in such cities or counties, notwithstanding any other state law or the lack of any such ordinance in the intervening cities or counties.
(c) No person shall be punished, fined, discriminated against, or be denied any right or privilege for lawfully engaging in any conduct permitted by this Act or authorized pursuant to Section 11301 of this Act. Provided however, that the existing right of an employer to address consumption that actually impairs job performance by an employee shall not be affected.
For purposes of this Act:
(i) “Marijuana” and “cannabis” are interchangeable terms that mean all parts of the plant Genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; concentrated cannabis; edible products containing same; and every active compound, manufacture, derivative, or preparation of the plant, or resin.
(ii) “One ounce” means 28.5 grams.
(iii) For purposes of section 11300(a)(ii) “cannabis plant” means all parts of a living Cannabis plant.
(iv) In determining whether an amount of cannabis is or is not in excess of the amounts permitted by this Act, the following shall apply:
(a) only the active amount of the cannabis in an edible cannabis product shall be included;
(b) living and harvested cannabis plants shall be assessed by square footage, not by weight in determining the amounts set forth in section 11300(a);
(c) in a criminal proceeding a person accused of violating a limitation in this Act shall have the right to an affirmative defense that the cannabis was reasonably related to his or her personal consumption.
(v) “residence” means a dwelling or structure, whether permanent or temporary, on private or public property, intended for occupation by a person or persons for residential purposes, and includes that portion of any structure intended for both commercial and residential purposes.
(vi) “local government” means a city, county, or city and county.
(vii) “licensed premises” is any commercial business, facility, building, land or area that has a license, permit or is otherwise authorized to cultivate, process, transport, sell, or permit on-premises consumption, of cannabis pursuant to any ordinance or regulation adopted by a local government pursuant to section 11301, or any subsequently enacted state statute or regulation.
Section 4: Prohibition on Furnishing Marijuana to Minors
Section 11361 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:
Prohibition on Furnishing Marijuana to Minors
(a) Every person 18 years of age or over who hires, employs, or uses a minor in transporting, carrying, selling, giving away, preparing for sale, or peddling any marijuana, who unlawfully sells, or offers to sell, any marijuana to a minor, or who furnishes, administers, or gives, or offers to furnish, administer, or give any marijuana to a minor under 14 years of age, or who induces a minor to use marijuana in violation of law shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a period of three, five, or seven years.
(b) Every person 18 years of age or over who furnishes, administers, or gives, or offers to furnish, administer, or give, any marijuana to a minor 14 years of age or older shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a period of three, four, or five years.
(c) Every person 21 years of age or over who knowingly furnishes, administers, or gives, or offers to furnish, administer or give, any marijuana to a person aged 18 years or older, but younger than 21 years of age, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of up to six months and be fined up to $1,000 for each offense.
(d) In addition to the penalties above, any person who is licensed, permitted or authorized to perform any act pursuant to Section 11301, who while so licensed, permitted or authorized, negligently furnishes, administers, gives or sells, or offers to furnish, administer, give or sell, any marijuana to any person younger than 21 years of age shall not be permitted to own, operate, be employed by, assist or enter any licensed premises authorized under Section 11301 for a period of one year.
Section 5: Amendment
Pursuant to Article 2, section 10(c) of the California Constitution, this Act may be amended either by a subsequent measure submitted to a vote of the People at a statewide election; or by statute validly passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, but only to further the purposes of the Act. Such permitted amendments include but are not limited to:
(a) Amendments to the limitations in section 11300, which limitations are minimum thresholds and the Legislature may adopt less restrictive limitations.
(b) Statutes and authorize regulations to further the purposes of the Act to establish a statewide regulatory system for a commercial cannabis industry that addresses some or all of the items referenced in Sections 11301 and 11302.
(c) Laws to authorize the production of hemp or non-active cannabis for horticultural and industrial purposes.
Section 6: Severability
If any provision of this measure or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the measure that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this measure are severable.