California Counts

A collaboration between Capital Public Radio, KQED, KPCC and KPBS to cover the 2016 elections in California.

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Voters Approve Recreational Marijuana, Cigarette Tax, Education Measures And More

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Indoor cannabis cultivation in Calaveras County pictured on October 20, 2016.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Californians legalized recreational marijuana, raised the tobacco tax and implemented tighter gun and ammunition control measures, while rejecting a bid to abolish capital punishment.

The marijuana initiative was projected to win almost as soon as polls closed.

The law went into effect at midnight, but that doesn't mean Californians can just light up anywhere they want.

"You can't publicly consume," says Yes on 64 spokesman Jason Kinney. "You can't do it around children. There's a whole bunch of restrictions still attached to this. It's not dissimilar to what we see with the alcohol industry." 

Kinney says the transition to allow legal buying and selling of marijuana will take some time. The state has until January 1, 2018 to implement regulations.

Shasta County dispensary owner and Proposition 64 opponent Jamie Kerr speaks with CapRadio's Ben Adler


Cities and counties may still vote to ban commercial marijuana businesses within their boundaries. And landlords can prohibit tenants from growing marijuana in their homes.

Massachusetts, North Dakota, Nevada and Arkansas also voted to legalize weed. The drug is still listed as a narcotic by the federal government.

Californians also approved a $2 tax hike on packs of cigarettes; Proposition 56 also extends the state's tobacco excise tax to e-cigarettes. And by passing Proposition 55, voters extended the income tax increase on wealthy individuals that they approved four years ago.

Proposition 51, another education-related ballot measure that permits a $9 billion bond to fund construction and renovation of school buildings, also won voter approval. Voters approved Proposition 54, a three-day-in-print requirement for all bills in the California Legislature, and Proposition 58, which relaxes requirements on English language education, also passed handily.

An effort targeting the price the state pays for prescription drugs is falling short. Proposition 61 trails 54 percent to 46 percent and supporters and opponents alike have acknowledged the measure's defeat. But the Associated Press has yet to make an official call on that measure.

Voters rejected Proposition 60, which would have required performers in porn films to use condoms. And by a wide margin, Californians approved Proposition 52, a Medi-Cal fee on private hospitals that's backed by the hospital industry.

The AP has now weighed in on the referendum on the statewide law banning single-use plastic bags. Proposition 67 leads with 52 percent of the vote, which upholds the law. An industry statement acknowledged defeat, saying "voters have unfortunately set themselves up for a serious case of buyer’s remorse." Meanwhile, voters rejected a rival initiative placed on the ballot by the plastic industry. Proposition 65 would have redirected bag fee revenues to an environmental fund.

Californians appear to have rejected an initiative to abolish capital punishment for the second time in four years, although there's no official projection from the AP on Proposition 62. An effort to streamline the death penalty process holds a small lead, and Proposition 66 opponents have issued a statement saying "California just made a mistake the size of Texas."

Voters approved Proposition 63, the gun control initiative that requires background checks on ammunition sales and expedites the seizure of firearms from people no longer allowed to own them. And Gov. Jerry Brown's push to overhaul California's criminal justice sentencing system won passage. Proposition 57 will allow some convicts to have their sentences shortened if they earn credits for good behavior, education and rehabilitation.

Proposition 53 is too close to call. It would require voter approval on "megaprojects" funded by state revenue bonds of $2 billion or more. Perhaps aided by a late push from Brown, opponents hold a narrow 330,000-vote lead.

Finally, Proposition 59 asked Californians whether they wanted the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens' United ruling to be overturned. Voters said yes - but that means very little, as it's a non-binding advisory measure.

Here's a measure-by-measure look at the results:

Prop. 51 - K-12 And Community College Funding Bond: PASSED

Prop. 52 - Private Hospital Fees For Medi-Cal: PASSED

Proposition 53 - Voter Approval of Revenue Bonds: TRAILING

Proposition 54 - Legislation and Proceedings and the Legislature: PASSED

Proposition 55 - Tax Extension for Education and Healthcare: PASSED

Proposition 56 - Cigarette Tax: PASSED

Proposition 57 - Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing: PASSED

Proposition 58 - English Language Education: PASSED

Proposition 59 - Campaign Finance: Voter Instruction: PASSED

Proposition 60 - Adult Film Condom Requirements: FAILED

Proposition 61 - State Prescription Drug Purchase Standards: FAILED

Proposition 62 - Death Penalty Elimination: FAILED

Proposition 63 - Firearms and Ammunition Sales: PASSED

Proposition 64 - Marijuana Legalization: PASSED

Proposition 65 - Carry-out Bag Charges: FAILED

Proposition 66 -  Changes Death Penalty Procedures: LEADING

Proposition 67 - Referendum on State Law Banning Single-use Plastic Bags: PASSED (the statewide ban is upheld)

Check back for more updates.

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