County Reps Oppose Prop 19 – September 28, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Daniel Mintz

Eye Correspondent

HUMBOLDT – The November ballot measure that will allow counties to regulate marijuana and gain tax revenue from its sale is opposed by the state association that represents counties.

At the Sept. 14 Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Mark Lovelace reported that the board of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) voted to oppose Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act, the previous week.

Lovelace explained that a majority of CSAC board members believe Prop. 19 falls short on defining regulation. “The board took a position to oppose mostly due to the uncertainty as to what it will really mean,” he said.

That action follows a similar one by the board of the California League of Cities last July.

Although in the minority of county representatives that voted to support Prop. 19, Lovelace said he also sees problems with it. “I can certainly understand why a lot of the supervisors would have taken that position because effectively, what this does is, it says let’s legalize it first and we’ll figure out how to regulate it later.”

Proposition 19 allows anyone 21 years old or older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and cultivate it for personal use in a 25-square-foot area. It also conditionally allows its commercial sale.

The measure does not describe a specific regulatory process for commercial activity. Instead, it allows cities and counties to adopt ordinances that would set forth the rules for cultivation, distribution and taxable retail sales. It would remain illegal to buy it and sell it in cities and counties that choose not to regulate it.

Leaving the rule-making up to local governments has been a target of Prop 19 criticism. “There is no regulatory framework – that provides a tremendous amount of uncertainty and discomfort for a lot of folks,” said Lovelace.

He added that “it’s just impossible to know, it’s entirely conjecture as to how it will be implemented.

But Lovelace said he nonetheless supports Prop 19 because “it creates the opportunity to get at those issues.”

He also said the CSAC board agrees that “the current situation isn’t working, prohibition didn’t work, things have to change and what needs to happen is that it needs to be legalized concurrently with a full regulatory framework.”

That can only happen “if the legislature takes this up themselves,” Lovelace continued.

Prop 19 would allow the state legislature to define regulations for commercial production of marijuana whether cities and counties do it or not. Lovelace said the CSAC board voted to recommend that the legislature deal with regulation.

Though not mentioned by Lovelace in his report, another aspect of uncertainty is the effect of federal law. Proposition 19’s taxation provision requires licensed marijuana distributors to pay all taxes, including federal taxes, but it’s unclear how that can be done for sales of a substance that the feds say is in the same category as cocaine and heroin.

A state Legislative Analyst Office summary of Prop 19 states that federal prosecution would interfere with the measure’s goals. “Thus, the revenue and expenditure impacts of this measure are subject to significant uncertainty,” according to the LAO summary.

But it also states that if a commercial marijuana industry is successfully established, state and local governments could “eventually collect hundreds of millions of dollars annually” in additional revenues.

Also of note, the measure does not change the penalties for providing marijuana to minors. But it sets forth an amendment to current law, stating that anyone 21 years old or older who furnishes marijuana to 18- to 20-year-olds could be jailed for up to six months or fined up to $1,000.

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8 Responses to “County Reps Oppose Prop 19 – September 28, 2010”

  1. yumita yumara

    If I lived in California, I would vote YES ON PROP 19!

  2. So many of our City Councils are so afraid to make laws.. Why are we voting for these people anyway? This ballot initiative gives each city and County the right to control and tax recreation cannabis (medical excepted) the way they see fit, which includes making laws for a distribution and tax structure. Cities like Oakland and Long Beach have already put up ballot measures to take advantage of this gift from Californian voters and counties like Orange County are already planning for the initiative’s passage. Perhaps we need to have more fine upstanding members in Arcata to run for office to create laws for the people, just like we elected the current lot for!

  3. Al LeFeusch

    I wonder how many of these people would have opposed the original murder laws? I mean, they were so vague! I can’t kill? But what if I’m crazy? What if it was just a moment of heated passion? What if it’s an accident? What if I didn’t actually do the killing but I put the killing in motion???

    So confusing! Let’s just keep murder legal.

    Oh, wait… our system is constantly progressing and adapting, isn’t it? OK Nevermind.

    Keep murder illegal and YES on 19.

  4. jason

    The same thing has happened with medical marijuana for the past 14 years in California.

    There are some counties that refuse to do any extra work and they’ve ignored medical marijuana for 14 years. As a result, those counties are the ones that see the most problems with dispensaries popping up left and right, dispensaries not having proper security (which results in robberies), and criminals running the dispensaries for insane profits.

    Meanwhile the counties that have/did come up with some sort of regulations are the ones that have seen little to no problems with medical marijuana and in most cases have even benefited from it with increased revenues and more time for police to focus on more serious crimes.

    I’m sorry but the excuse of “I don’t want to do my job and come up with proper regulations” is not an a good excuse to keep locking people up and wasting billions.

    On a side note, it’s not true that there is no framework. Prop 19 states very clear what the limits of pocession and growing are, that’s called a FRAMEWORK. It’s now up to local officials to decide if they wan’t to ban it outright or if they wan’t to come up with some regulations such as how much to charge in taxes or how many places and who can sell it.

    It’s really not hard to come up with those type of regulations. It can be done in only a couple of council meetings. Some of these elected officials are just lazy though.

    I’ll be voting yes for prop 19 because I already live in a city that has clear regulations on medical marijuana and charges sales taxes on it, if seen first hand the huge benefit it’s had on the local economy and the level of safety in our streets. I’m confident my city will adapt similar regulations if prop 19 passes.

  5. john

    In response to having to pay federal taxes. This is true for medical marijuana as well. Something worth noting is that the dispensaries that actually pay federal business taxes are the ones who tend to not get raided by the feds.

    The ones that don’t pay taxes tend to get raided more often. Look up numerous videos of DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and you will notice one thing in common, a lot of the DEA agents are accompanied by agents from the IRS for the dispensary not paying taxes.

    Yes there will always be the risk of federal agents conducting raids on growers and sellers but if this is a risk those growers/sellers are willing to take then we shouldn’t stop them. If they are willing to stick their neck on the line to help improve the failed war on drugs, then I’m fine with that.

    The same thing that has happened with medical marijuana will happen with legal marijuana. The feds will do raids here and there to try to send a strong message, but shops will continue to pop up and other states will pass similar laws and it will get to the point where the feds can’t do much about it. This is whats happened with medical marijuana (which is still illegal under federal law) and it’s what will happen with legal marijuana.

  6. marcus

    It’s a sad day when our elected officials are too lazy to sit down and come up with some simple regulations for a law the voters pass (if prop 19 passes).

    If they are really that lazy they can simply ban legal marijuana in their county. That takes no more than one council hearing which they already hold every week typically.

    This is a horrible excuse to not vote YES on prop 19. It’s a cop out from politicians actually having to do their job.

  7. Leonard Krivitsky, MD

    Cannabis is less physically addictive than caffeine, while the so-called “gateway drug” theory is a complete fantasy, and it was just recently called “half-baked” as a result of a scientific study. CNN reported that Cocaine use has dropped sharply, by 30% since 2002, which is really good news. I worked in addiction medicine for years, and this is what I can advice on the matter: Any suppression of Cannabis use will be immediately followed by an increase in alcohol/hard drug/prescription drug abuse! You don’t believe me? Then maybe you will believe the Big Alcohol lobby that is financing the Cannabis Legalization opponents for exactly this reason. Right now Cannabis is just simply perceived as a much safer alternative to alcohol/hard drugs, which is precisely how it should be perceived. To have a society in which there is NO psychoactive substance use is an illusion, and it will be good for our government to realize this. So then, it becomes a matter of “safer choices”, just like with the sex education. And Cannabis is, without a shadow of a doubt, a much safer choice than alcohol or hard drugs! Just very recently a research study in addiction medicine has determined that Cannabis may actually serve as an “exit” substance for recovering alcoholics/hard drug addicts! And there is another extremely important property of Cannabis that the prohibitionists would love to keep secret: Cannabis use suppresses violent urges and behaviors and, as one prestigious textbook says, “Only the unsophisticated think otherwise” Then, of course, there is a potential for Cannabis in chronic pain, where other drugs may be ineffective (or physically addictive), with very important potential implications for our wounded veterans, many of whom have chronic pain. It is also worth noting that Cannabis may have certain preventative value for such devastating conditions as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. And all this comes with no danger of overdoses or induction of a physical dependence! Let’s be very happy that the cocaine abuse rate is dropping. Let’s not interfere with these dynamics, and then we can possibly achieve what has already been achieved in the Netherlands where the drug overdose rate is 85%(!!) lower than in the US, and that is with much more liberal Cannabis possession laws than in this country! Maybe it is time to give up “dogma” about Cannabis, and to start listening to the experts, if we really want to lower the alcohol/hard drug use in this country, and the accompanying dependencies and overdoses!

  8. blf

    Just moved back to California and I WILL be voting YES on Prop. 19. I WILL also be voting for Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer>


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