CA: Legalizing Marijuana Raises Revenue, Promotes Freedom

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An initiative on the ballot this year could possibly bring in more than $1 billion of new tax revenue to California while elevating our personal freedom.

After funding is distributed for the future of the initiative, 60 percent of remaining profits (estimates suggesting hundreds of millions of dollars) will be used to fund youth programs, including drug education, prevention and treatment – a major step up considering there is currently no state system in place to manage at-risk or drug addicted/exposed youth.

On a broader scale, $10 million (rising to $50 million by 2022) will provide grants to local health departments and nonprofits to provide social services to communities that have been impacted negatively by outdated drug policies.

This is funding that cities such as Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and other Bay Area communities could benefit from on a monumental scale. It is known as the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative or Prop 64.

The passage of Prop 64 on the Nov. 8 ballot would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 in private homes and licensed businesses, whereas it would remain illegal while driving a motor vehicle, in any place where smoking tobacco is banned, and in all public places (including schools, day care centers, and youth centers).

If children under the age of 18 are convicted of marijuana use or possession, they would be required to attend drug education or counseling and complete community service, arguably a much better method of punishment than a fine, drivers license suspension or incarceration.

In addition, Prop 64 will remove marijuana offenses from our youths records, saving them from the long-term harmful effects of marijuana-related criminal charges during moments of poor judgment, which exist as a barrier to boys and girls seeking employment and other means of self-growth.

The initiative takes special steps to balance individual rights to use marijuana, while preventing marijuana from coming into the hands of youth, including felony charges to retail businesses that distribute to minors. There are strict regulations on the labeling and marketing standards of marijuana products, including a ban on some edibles that may be attractive to children.

Still, it is understandable some may anticipate an increase in marijuana use among youth. However, the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey found that underage marijuana use remained stable three years after the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012, even though Colorado made no specific monetary allocations to prevent or treat youth substance abuse (contrary to Prop. 64).

As a life-long Californian and graduate student in social work, I believe it is important to take into consideration how any measure can potentially affect our children and youth, as cities, communities, and states rely on their welfare and success. It is a balancing game of taking into consideration the rights of all members of our society and the implications of each political decision we make for the state.

Born with a birth defect that has damaged my kidney function, I am advised not to take prescription or OTC drugs for aches and pains – for which I argue marijuana is a reasonable, safe replacement.

Voting yes on Prop. 64 supports individual freedoms for Californians to make these choices, while keeping close to heart the safety and security of our youngest citizens.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Legalizing Marijuana Raises Revenue, Promotes Freedom
Author: Jessica Hanscom
Contact: 925-935-2525
Photo Credit: Glen Stubbe
Website: East Bay Times