We the People — Part 15

“Christmas is the time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it.  Deficits are when adults tell government what they want and their kids pay for it.”  ~Richard Lamm

By Alden Benton

Proposition 64 seeks to legalize and tax the cultivation and sale of marijuana in California.

Under current California law, it is illegal to grow, possess, or use marijuana.  However, in 1996, voters passed a ballot measure allowing anyone, with a recommendation of a doctor, to use marijuana for medical purposes.  In 2003, the state legislature legalized medical marijuana collectives.  The collectives are unlicensed nonprofit organizations that may grow and sell marijuana for medical purposes.

News laws require regulations to control medical marijuana including standards for labeling, testing, and packaging of medical marijuana products and a system to track the products from production through sale.  These laws replace medical marijuana collectives with state licensed businesses.  Six state agencies are responsible enforcing these new regulations.

California currently collects sales tax on the sale of medical marijuana, as do some cities.

Proposition 64 changes state law to:

  • Legalize adult nonmedical use of marijuana,
  • Create a system for regulating non-medical marijuana businesses,
  • Impose taxes on marijuana, and
  • Change penalties for marijuana-related crimes.

Under Proposition 64, adults over 21 may use marijuana for non-medical reasons.  This measure, however, prohibits certain activities.  This proposal prohibits

  • Smoking marijuana while driving,
  • Smoking marijuana in a public place other than a business licensed for on-site consumption, or
  • Smoking marijuana anywhere that smoking tobacco is prohibited.

Proposition 64 also prohibits possession of marijuana on the grounds of a school, day care center, or youth center where children are present.  In addition, this measure prohibits growing marijuana in an unlocked area or in an area visible from a public place.  It also prohibits providing marijuana to minor under 21 for non-medical use.

Adults must purchase marijuana from state licensed businesses or delivery services.  These businesses cannot be within 600 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center. 

Proposition 64 also prohibits businesses licensed to sell marijuana from selling alcohol or tobacco products and prohibits on-site consumption unless authorized by local governments.  If local government approves on-site consumption, Proposition 64 still prohibits consumption within the sight of minors, or in areas visible from a public place. 

This measure prohibits on-site consumption of alcohol or tobacco products in businesses that allow on-site marijuana use.

Proposition 64 does not change the way marijuana is regulated.  The rules that currently apply to medical marijuana apply to non-medical marijuana.  The only change is the name of the regulatory agency to the Bureau of Marijuana Control.

Under Proposition 64, local governments can further regulate non-medical marijuana use including banning it.  Local governments cannot ban the transportation of marijuana through their jurisdictions.

This measure imposes new state taxes on growing and selling marijuana.  The state growing tax is $9.25 per ounce of dried marijuana flower and $2.75 per ounce of dried leaves.  This measure also imposes a 15 per cent excise tax based upon the retail value of marijuana products sold.

Medical-marijuana is currently subject to state sales tax.  Proposition 64 exempts medical marijuana from sales taxes but imposes the sales tax on non-medical marijuana sales.  Local governments may add additional taxes on all marijuana sales.

Proposition 64 creates the California Marijuana Tax Fund.  Revenue from the state growing and retail excises taxes and some fines go to this fund.  This measure specifies the distribution of these funds as follows:

  • Reimbursement of regulatory agencies for costs greater than licensing revenue,
  • Beginning 2018, allocates funds for annual grants from $10 million to $50 million for communities most affected by past drug policies,
  • Allocates $10 million annually through 2029 to evaluate the effects of this measure,
  • Allocates $3 million annually through 2023 to create and adopt methods to determine if an individual is driving while impaired by marijuana, and
  • Allocates $2 million annually for the study of the risks and benefits of medical marijuana.

Allocation of remaining fund revenues is as follows:

  • 60 per cent for youth programs,
  • 20 per cent to clean up and prevent environmental damage from illegal marijuana growing,
  • 20 per cent for programs to reduce driving under the influence of drugs, marijuana, and alcohol, and a grant program to reduce negative impacts on public health and safety arising from the passage of this measure.


© 2016 A. L. Benton/Independence Creek Enterprises
All Rights Reserved
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