Californias Proposition 64 would make recreational marijuana legal in the state. If the law passes, it would mean a big shift in the way the Golden State – already the largest market for pot in the U.S. – regulates marijuana. It could also mean big changes in enforcement, as well as the habits and health of Californians.
You wont be able to buy pot at every store
First, you wont be able to purchase pot everywhere if its legalized for recreational use. Only specially licensed stores will be able to sell marijuana. The state will issue licenses to growers, distributors and sellers who will have to adhere to certain rules.
If youre 21 or older, youll be able to buy and carry 28.5 grams (about one ounce) of marijuana flower, but if youre carrying marijuana extract the limit is 8 grams. And if you decide to grow your own marijuana youll be able to cultivate up to six plants.
You wont be able to smoke marijuana everywhere
Smoking in public will still be illegal, as will driving while high and smoking on school grounds – though enforcement, especially of driving while high, will present some big challenges to law enforcement.
If you smoke somewhere youre not allowed, youll be subject to a fine of no more than $100 for the first offense. If you rack up more offenses, you could be slapped with higher fines, and possibly jail time.
Youll know how strong different strains of pot are
If its passed, the new law will regulate how marijuana distributors disclose whats in their products. Theyll look a lot like nutrition labels for pot.
Packages of dried marijuana will be required to have the following information listed:
- Net weight of the marijuana
- The origin of the marijuana, the date of cultivation, source and type of marijuana
- The amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids, listed in milligrams per serving
- Whether any solvents, non-organic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers were used
For marijuana food products, the amount of THC in the product will need to be disclosed.
Recreational pot shops wont open until January 2018
Even if Prop. 64 passes in November, the earliest youll see pot shops catering to recreational users is January 2018.
The regulatory system itself could take more than a year to get going, says Lynne Lyman, the director for Californias Drug Policy Alliance and one of the people who helped write the initiative.
The piece that takes longer to come into implementation is the commercial regulation, Lyman says. The regulatory agency must start issuing licenses no later than January of 2018 [but] its possible that itll start earlier.
Therell be very few marijuana-related arrests
The number of misdemeanor and felony crimes relating to marijuana use and distribution has already fallen significantly, since a 2010 state bill reduced possession of a small amount of pot from a misdemeanor to an infraction.
Those numbers would drop even further if Prop. 64 passes. The new law would essentially eliminate criminal penalties for adult personal use of marijuana, and those changes would start immediately.
The penalty reduction components take effect at midnight on November , says Lyman. Anybody whos currently in jail or prison or on parole or probation for a marijuana-related offense will be able to petition to have their sentence reduced and so that process might take a few months, says Lyman.
If youre carrying more than the allowed amounts of marijuana you can still be fined. And those who are operating commercially without a license can be fined. Repeat offenders could get jail time.
It will still be a felony to sell to minors, as well as to attempt the dangerous process of home butane extraction.
The black market wont go away overnight
New regulations will likely make marijuana more expensive and pot will still be illegal for many of Californias neighbors. The result: The black market will likely continue to thrive.
I think that the biggest way in which the whole situation is out of touch with reality is pretending that states can do what they want without affecting other states, says Jon Caulkins a professor of public policy at Carnegie Mellon University and author of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know.
California supplies much of the cannabis for the rest of the country. And as its production costs have been declining and presumably will decline further after legalization, that reduces prices and increases use all around the country. Its important to recognize just how compact marijuana is. A years supply for a typical daily user weighs about as much as one 20-ounce can of beer. Its very hard to keep this stuff from flowing across borders.
So, dont count on Prop. 64 to do much to eliminate the black market, though it could make it much less attractive to risk arrest for cheaper weed, at least to Californians.
Neither will drug-related crime
Dont expect crime to drop either.
When the nation has legalized [pot], as long as you dont have super high taxes or other restrictions, then legal companies will out-compete criminals. Farmers are better at farming cannabis than crooks are, says Caulkins. But no, that wont really do much about drug-related crime because most drug-related crime is associated with cocaine, crack, heroin and meth, not marijuana.
So, nothing you do with marijuana is going to really solve most of the drug-related crime.
Driving while high will be illegal, but difficult to enforce
Driving while high will officially be illegal, but drunken driving laws wont translate easily. Its tough to figure out exactly how intoxicated someone is, even if theres THC in their system.
You can be positive for THC a week after the last time you used cannabis, says Professor Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at New York University. Not subjectively impaired at all, not impaired at all by any objective measure, but still positive.
And the reverse is true as well.
You can be very, very stoned and not have a very high level of THC actually apparent in the blood, says Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Scientists are searching for new ways to solve that problem, but it wont likely make a difference in the short term.
Californias pot market will spike, and the state could make more than $1B in tax revenue
Thats according to Californias Department of Finance, which took a look at Proposition 64 before it was officially on the ballot. The report also says that the state could save about $100 million in criminal justice costs.
Consumers should be expected to pay at least 24 percent of the base price. There will be a 15 percent excise tax on top of Californias 9 percent sales tax, as well as any additional tax thats levied by cities and counties.
New Frontier & ArcView Market Research, a pro-marijuana research and investment firm, estimates that Californias recreational market could total $1.3 billion in 2018, the year California will likely start to see legal shops open up, if Prop. 64 passes. By 2020 they estimate that it could be worth nearly $4 billion.
Big Marijuana could be the next Big Tobacco
The rise of legal recreational marijuana could bring in big players and mean the weaponization of marketing tactics to promote marijuana use.
I think that youre going to see aggressive marketing by companies who know that their profits depend on selling to people who are daily or near-daily users, says Caulkins. The current illegal sale of marijuana is mostly a word-of-mouth campaign, he says. Now, imagine a whole industry of professional advertising focused on getting people to regularly use pot.
The illegal organizations [currently] dont place their products in Hollywood movies, he says. They dont have marketing executives with MBAs from high-powered business schools. I think theres going to be an unsettling side of the legal industry thats reminiscent of the tobacco industry 15-20 years from now.
In the long run, I think were going to wonder why we thought it was a good idea to create a corporate sector for promoting use of another dependence-inducing intoxicant.
Its unclear if there would be an uptick in teen use
According to KPCCs Rebecca Plevin, In Colorado, which was the first state to legalize recreational pot, the state department of public health has collected some early data: The Healthy Kids Colorado Study finds that a year after legalization, pot use among teens is relatively unchanged.
Colorados results are consistent with national data from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which has been asking high school students about their drug and alcohol use for 25 years, she explained. It finds that in 2015, about 39 percent of teenagers reported trying pot and about 22 percent currently use it.
Teen pot use across the U.S. has been declining since the late 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But there is evidence emergency room visits, especially by children, would rise
After the legalization of recreational pot, Colorado saw an uptick in the number of kids under 9 years of age that ended up in the emergency room due to marijuana exposure, according to a recent study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
The authors discovered that half of the accidental consumption cases were related to kids eating edibles, which are difficult to distinguish from regular food.
The way people use marijuana changed in Colorado and it could in California, too
Marijuana has traditionally been a product you smoke, but that could change, as it did in Colorado. New users may be less likely to want to smoke pot, and more open to eating it.
We were all surprised by how much edibles were part of the recreational market, says Andrew Freedman, director of marijuana coordination for the state of Colorado. A lot of that seems to be about the fact that marijuana-naive people would use edibles at the beginning because it seems like a more attractive way of using marijuana. Im not sure thats something that we couldve known ahead of time.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: 6 Ways Recreational Pot Would Change California – And 7 Ways It Wouldnt
Author: Jacob Margolis
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