CA: Questions Linger On Marijuana Proposition’s Details

0
364

In November, Californians will vote on 16 ballot measures, ranging from plastic bag bans to new taxes and fees, whose proposed rule changes average 10 pages each.

Then there’s Proposition 64, whether to legalize recreational pot, which clocks in at 62 pages.

“There is a lot of confusion,” said Tammy Brazil, who has hired someone at Queen of Dragons medicinal marijuana collective in Shasta Lake to keep up with the regulations. “Everything’s changing with MMRSA (a state law regulating medical marijuana) to keep up with AUMA (aka Proposition 64).”

Adding to that, both sides of the campaign have filed suits over the other’s claims in voters guides. A Sacramento judge ruled on that suit Friday in a decision both sides called a victory.

An analysis of Proposition 64 shows some details are clear as glass. But plenty of confusion – and concerns – remain, such as a ban on requiring “unreasonably impracticable” things of the industry and customers. Supporters, including the Proposition 64’s attorney of record and author Richard Miadich, call it simply a bulwark against anti-cannabis zealots’ attempts to overregulate marijuana markets out of existence. But the other side, including Shasta Lake 530 Collective owner Jamie Kerr, worry it’s a loophole large enough to drive a dump truck through that makes any regulation worthless.

Other issues remain in the fine print, according to an analysis by the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“Due to its extraordinary length and complexity, AUMA contains a number of glitches and inconsistencies that will have to be ironed out by the courts or the Legislature,” the analysis reads. “Fortunately, Section 10 of the act allows for most provisions to be modified by the Legislature.”

What Does It Do?

Among those 62 pages are regulations that go far beyond simply letting adults use pot. AUMA creates 17 categories of businesses, with large-scale ones phased in over time.

It also allows anyone 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana outside their home as long as it’s not visible in public, Maidrich said. Inside the home, individuals can grow up to six plants and keep all the product they yield indoors, he said.

Proposition 64 would establish taxes on commercial grows and a 15 percent excise tax, in addition to the on-average 8 percent sales tax, on all marijuana sold, Maidrich said. Medical marijuana users, however, could avoid the state sales tax by registering as a medical patient with the state.

The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office gave the same figures for taxes.

Driving under the influence, supplying marijuana to youths or using in public, besides a locally approved business, remain illegal.

But then things get cloudy. For example, Proposition 64 explicitly states that adults can transport marijuana, but it doesn’t repeal the vehicle code section that bans transporting marijuana, Cal NORML’s analysis says. A court or the Legislature will need to square those sections.

Will It There Be Advertising?

Proposition 64 explicitly bars advertising and packaging targeting young people, Maidrich said.

But on Friday, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled on lawsuits the Proposition 64 campaigns had filed over ballot language. Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang watered down language for both sides, but allowed the No on 64 campaign to claim legalization could expose children to marijuana advertising, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Both sides claimed victory Friday afternoon.

But in Colorado, which voted to legalize marijuana in 2012, packaging involving Santa Claus and other cartoon characters are popping up, said Kerr, with the 530 Collective.

Proposition 64 also allows advertising as long as about three quarters of the viewing audience are adults, said Tim Rosales, spokesman for the No on 64 campaign.

“That includes just about every prime-time television program, from the Olympics to evening news to college football,” he said. “Everything.”

Initially, broadcast advertisements would be unlikely because the federal government bans advertisements for illegal drugs, said Jason Kinney, spokesman for the Yes on 64 campaign. The campaign pointed to a Politifact article that rated the No on 64 campaign’s claims about allowing prime-time legal marijuana advertising as “mostly false.”

Proposition 64 would simply put controls in place to regulate ads, similarly to alcohol, should federal officials decide to legalize marijuana advertising, he said.

“Prop. 64 is forward-looking,” Kinney said, adding it has some of the toughest legal-weed advertising restrictions in place.

Rosales, however, said the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses stations, has been mostly mum on whether it would sanction those that run legal weed advertisements.

And voters will have to swallow the whole pill, both the good and the bad parts, he said.

“We’ve essentially decriminalized marijuana. Nobody gets arrested for small amounts,” he said. “The question is: Is the need so urgent that they’re willing to take all these other things they may be uncomfortable with? … The initiative is not a buffet – you have to take all of it.”

‘Unreasonably Impracticable’

Kerr’s major concern with the bill’s language comes down to two words: Unreasonably impracticable. It means so difficult it’s almost impossible, according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary.

Basically, Proposition 64 says no agency or authority can require anything “unreasonably impracticable” of the marijuana industry or individuals.

But Kerr takes issue with it because Proposition 64 doesn’t define, explain or outline what would be considered unreasonably impracticable. That creates a massive loophole for anyone to use it to defy regulations, likely meaning years of lawsuits and court cases, she said.

Yes on 64’s Maidrich said it exists to keep anti-marijuana officials from using overregulation to make marijuana de facto illegal again.

“Don’t impose such unreasonable barriers to eliminate the market for marijuana – that’s the goal: balanced regulations that get rid of the black market,” he said.

A Guide To The Adult Use Of Marijuana Act

Proposition 64’s 62 pages cover a wide range of rules and regulations far beyond allowing people to smoke cannabis at home. Some of those rules are still being shaken out, while others have caused confusion and concern. The Record Searchlight has spoken with both campaigns and reviewed several analyses, as well as the proposition itself. Most information comes from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office and the measure, though if another source is used it is identified.

Individual Adults (21 And Older) Legally Could:

Smoke in a private home or at an appropriately licensed business with no minors present.

Possess up to 28.5 grams (about an ounce) of marijuana and up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis at any time. They can give those amounts to other adults but cannot sell it.

Grow up to six marijuana plants in a private home or fully enclosed outbuilding for personal use. The marijuana collected from these plants could not be sold, but it could be kept legally in the owner’s home.

Individual Adults Legally Could Not:

Smoke in public, in locations where tobacco smoke is banned and while driving a vehicle.

Possess marijuana at a school, day care center or youth center while children are present.

Grow plants in an unlocked area or grow plants visible from a public place (unless their local government allows it – see below).

Give marijuana to anyone under 21.

The State Government Would:

Establish a state tax only on commercial grows, both medical and non-medical marijuana ($9.25 per ounce of dried flowers and $2.75 per ounce of dried leaves). Beginning in 2020 the state’s Board of Equalization could adjust it for inflation.

Establish a new 15 percent excise tax on medical and non-medical marijuana dispensary purchases.

Retain the current state sales tax on recreational marijuana but not medical marijuana.

License and regulate the entire supply chain including non-personal growers, manufacturers, dispensaries and on-site use.

Use license-application fees to cover regulators’ operating costs.

Send all new revenue from marijuana sales to the California Marijuana Tax Fund. The money would be divvied up among medical marijuana research, programs for areas negatively affected by drugs; anti-DUI efforts; and to evaluate the effects of Prop. 64; and youth programs.

Expect tax revenue between the high hundreds of millions of dollars to $1 billion.

Have the option to reduce the sentences and change the records of those previously convicted of marijuana crimes to match Proposition 64’s penalties. Anyone released would be subject to supervision for one year, though a judge could remove that requirement.

Reduce the maximum penalty for sale of marijuana from four years in custody to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. In most other cases, such as growing more than six plants without a license, fines would apply. It does not alter penalties for DUIs.

Local Governments Legally Could:

Enact restrictions or outright bans on all types of recreational marijuana businesses.

Require local licenses for any marijuana businesses.

Enact taxes on recreational and medical marijuana sold.

Choose whether to exempt marijuana businesses from Proposition 64’s 600-foot minimum distance from youth facilities and schools.

Local governments could not:

Ban growing six or fewer plants inside a secure, private part of a home.

Allow marijuana to be used at the same business or location where tobacco and alcohol can be used.

Ban marijuana from passing through their jurisdictions.

Ban personal possession of marijuana.

Dispensaries Would:

Be slowly phased out in favor of both recreational and marijuana businesses licensed by the state (current dispensaries would be favored for the new licenses).

Be allowed to apply for a temporary recreational sale permit from the state until recreational stores open in 2018.*

Be able to maintain licenses for both recreational and medicinal sales, as well as almost all other steps of production.* However, those who test product purity could not maintain another license, and large (more than 1-acre) cultivators couldn’t also be retailers.

Have to obtain permission from the local government to allow on-site marijuana use.

Not be able to allow the use of or sale of alcohol and tobacco.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Questions Linger On Marijuana Proposition’s Details
Author: Joe Szydlowski
Contact: (530) 243-2424
Photo Credit: None Found
Website: Record Searchlight