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Stateside with Rosalea Barker: Like wine

Like wine

By Rosalea Barker
February 7, 2012

Well! That was an interesting little phone call! I’ve just been polled by a telephone survey company to gauge my opinions about a ballot measure proposed for the November election. It’s the Regulate Marijuana like Wine initiative. If the measure qualifies for the ballot and passes, and is enacted in its proposed form, people would be able to grow up to 24 flowering plants for personal use, or go into stores and buy marijuana—with certain restrictions on such things as where it is sold (not near schools and playgrounds) and who sells it (premises must be licensed and employees must pass a criminal background check).

Moreover, the law would direct state and local officials not to cooperate with federal drug law enforcement. Holy crap! We’ll be at war with the Union! (As if we’re not already.)

Here is the California Attorney General’s summary of the initiative:

"Decriminalizes marijuana sales, distribution, possession, use, cultivation, and transportation. Dismisses pending court actions inconsistent with its provisions. Retains laws forbidding use while driving or in workplace. Establishes regulation of commercial marijuana trade to match regulation of wine and beer. Allows noncommercial production up to 24 flowering plants per household, or more with local approval. Authorizes retail sales of marijuana with THC level of .3% or more to persons 21 or older; if less, no age limit. Directs state and local officials to not cooperate with federal enforcement of marijuana laws. Bans development of genetically modified marijuana."

For a PDF of the AG’s summary plus the summary of the estimated fiscal impact by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance, go here.

After being asked if I’d support the measure in its entirety, as read out to me, and giving my reason for my answer to that question, the pollster then broke the measure out into its separate parts and asked how I felt about each of them. Then I was asked my opinion of various arguments that might be made for and against the measure, including some that might be made by groups other than the one proposing the ballot measure.

Who knows if the California Medical Association, which filed an amicus brief back in 2001 in the Supreme Court case United States of America v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, et. al will support this wide-ranging measure, but in October, 2011, the CMA became the first statewide medical association in the US to adopt an official policy to legalize marijuana. They based their position on a white paper, available here. The CMA’s policy recommendations included:

“Reschedule” medical cannabis in order to encourage research leading to responsible regulation.
• Regulate recreational cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco.
• Tax cannabis.
• Facilitate dissemination of risks and benefits of cannabis use.

Another group mentioned by the pollster as being in favor of marijuana legalization was peace officers (the collective name for law/custodial enforcement officers), but I doubt that the statewide organizations representing those folks will support the initiative, even if Law Enforcement Against Prohibition does. The CA Peace Officers Association opposed 2010’s Proposition 19, which would have legalized cannabis. And the California Police Chiefs Association issued this statement in response to the CMA’s position on legalization, strongly opposing it. (They also have a handy-dandy—but undated, so I’m not sure how current it is—memo on how to deal with people claiming protection under CA’s medical marijuana law here.)

Information about California’s medical marijuana law is available on the state’s Health and Human Services website here.

For a report about the skyrocketing arrest rate for misdemeanor cannabis possession rates in California, see the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice report here.

The full wording of the law proposed by the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine initiative is here.

*************

--PEACE—

rosalea.barker@gmail.com

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