Katie Orr | California Counts
Proposition 64 makes recreational marijuana legal in California for adults 21 and over.
California voters legalized the medical use of marijuana in 1996. Twenty years later, it’s pretty easy to buy marijuana in parts of California. But it’s still illegal to use marijuana for nonmedical purposes.
Proposition 64 would change that.
What you're voting on
The measure would make it legal in California for adults over age 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes. It would also regulate recreational marijuana businesses and impose taxes on pot.
As with alcohol, marijuana use in public would be restricted, and driving while high would be illegal. But law enforcement officials are already wondering how they would determine whether someone is driving under the influence of pot. So far there isn’t an easy, reliable test. More on that here.
Still, supporters say the measure will provide a way to regulate a vast and growing industry, and allow people to use marijuana in a responsible way. They say provisions built into the law, such as restrictions on pot use near schools and day-care centers, will protect children.
Who are the opponents?
A variety of people oppose Proposition 64, for a variety of reasons. Some are concerned children will be exposed to pot advertisements. Some small marijuana growers are worried they could eventually be pushed out of the market by bigger companies. Other opponents believe the 60-page ballot measure gets into too much detail. For example, rather than letting the Legislature decide the rules, the initiative spells out many of the regulations, and only voters could change them.
State financial analysts say taxing marijuana could bring in hundreds of millions, or perhaps more than a billion, dollars in new revenue. Much of the money would go toward drug education and prevention programs for kids. Environmental restoration projects and the California Highway Patrol would also get money. Cities and counties would receive some revenue as well.
Independent analysts also say the measure could yield savings of tens of millions of dollars for state and local governments, due to a decline in marijuana offenders held in prisons and jails.
Using or possessing marijuana is still against federal law, although federal agencies generally haven’t made possession of small amounts of pot an important priority. Still, it isn’t clear how this conflict between federal and state regulations would be resolved.
At this time, four states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use of marijuana. California is one of several states voting on that issue this fall.
Fiscal Impact -- by the League of Women Voters Education Fund
The costs of Proposition 64 and how much money it would raise are unclear. The amount coming in from taxes depends on how much non-medical marijuana is grown and purchased through the new legal system. Over time, state and local governments could earn taxes in the hundreds of millions of dollars or more than $1 billion each year. The state and local governments could also save tens of millions of dollars on court and law enforcement costs each year.
Supporters say -- by the League of Women Voters Education Fund
- Proposition 64 would set up a safe, legal system that allows adults to use recreational marijuana.
- Proposition 64 would bring in more than $1 billion each year and lower state court costs.
Opponents say -- by the League of Women Voters Education Fund
- Proposition 64 would increase the illegal drug trade and hurt low-income communities.
- Proposition 64 allows marijuana to be grown near schools and puts youth at risk of addiction.
Still have questions? Read our pot series here.