Marijuana in front of voters in California, Nevada
Voters on both sides of the state line will have the chance to decide whether recreational marijuana use should be legal for people 21 and over this November.
On June 28, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced the Adult Use of Marijuana Act had qualified for the Nov. 8 ballot as Proposition 64. The Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative is also set to appear on the Silver State’s November ballot as Question 2.
Both measures remove legal penalties for people 21 and over for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana and set up systems for the creation of retail marijuana stores and taxing the plant. Both measures also allow for the cultivation of up to six plants for personal use, although Nevada’s proposal would require a person to live more than 25 miles away from a retail marijuana store in order to grow cannabis. Neither proposal allows for public consumption of marijuana or driving under its influence.
Local jurisdictions in both states would be given authority to regulate recreational marijuana under the proposals.
“Local governments will have the ability to adopt and enforce local marijuana control measures pertaining to zoning and land use for marijuana establishments,” according to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a group pushing for the passage of Nevada’s Question 2.
South Lake Tahoe City Attorney Tom Watson said that if Proposition 64 passes in California, it would be up to the city council to determine whether they want recreational marijuana facilities in the city.
“The Adult Use of Marijuana Act sets up a comprehensive system governing marijuana businesses at the state level and safeguards local control, allowing local governments to regulate marijuana-related activities, to subject marijuana businesses to zoning and permitting requirements, and to ban marijuana businesses by a vote of the people within a locality,” according to the text of the act.
The South Lake Tahoe City Council drafted its medical marijuana ordinances during numerous, often tense, meetings between 2009 and 2011.
If the California proposal passes, sales of recreational marijuana could begin in California as soon as Jan. 1, 2018. The state’s Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance has estimated taxation of recreational marijuana could raise more than $1 billion per year for the state.
Numerous drug policy reform groups have voiced support for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, as have the California Medical Association and the California Democratic Party. The major benefactor of the act is Napster founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker.
The California Police Chiefs Association, California State Sheriffs’ Association, California Peace Officers Association and California Hospital Association have each come out opposed to the measure.
California NORML, an organization dedicated to reforming California’s marijuana laws, has called the act “an important, if imperfect, step towards legalization.”
“AUMA is only a partial step toward complete legalization, which will require changing federal law,” said California NORML director Dale Gieringer, in a statement. “Even if it passes, we will still have our work cut out for us to strengthen and defend the rights of patients and consumers to use marijuana.”
The group has raised concerns that the proposed law would not interfere with the rights of employers to discriminate against marijuana users or require local governments to allow access to medical marijuana.
California became the first state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana when voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996. California voters shot down the last proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use, Proposition 19, in 2010. Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, and Oregon and Alaska legalized it in 2014. Florida and Maine have marijuana legalization measures appearing on November’s ballot.