Citizens in California voted for the approval of marijuana for recreational use on Tuesday. Also called Proposition 64, it will have an impact on 40 million people living in California, where marijuana will be regulated like alcohol, rather than treated like a criminal enterprise.
Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana four years ago. Since then, Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. have joined their group. The approval of this proposition will also help expand the legal marijuana industry and boost its positive image, which will be also used by representatives of its industry to encourage a further, bigger change in this respect.
A 15 percent excise tax will be imposed on all retail marijuana in the attempt to regulate the sales and fund the regulatory scheme that will be necessary in the context of its legalization. This measure would also impact the youth substance abuse and education programs, the training of law enforcement officers and the environmental consequences of this measure.
The Implementation of Proposition 64
"This vote will dramatically accelerate the end of federal marijuana prohibition," Tom Angell, chairman of drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority, told The Huffington Post.
However, the support concerning the measure of legalization is also rising. A number of public health experts raises questions about the possible long-term side effects of the drug, for which no relevant studies were conducted. The lack of tests and protocols to check whether drivers who have consumed marijuana before stepping into their cars could also have some negative impacts on the screening process and identification of those who have consumed the drug.
However, the marijuana supporters in California address the issue from another perspective. From their point of view, the legalization is a social justice measure, as they deny any possible long-term harms that the drug could produce. Consequently, the passing of this proposition also represents a positive measure in terms of criminal justice, as many of the consumers had been arrested and convicted in the past for using the drug; most of them were minorities, according to the supporters.
Approximately $23 billion were raised as of Nov. 6, by the pro-legalization committees, according to the statements of the California secretary of state's office. From tech entrepreneurs to marijuana companies, the proposition had a lot of traction among the U.S. citizens of California, among whom a former Facebook president, who donated the largest amount of money as part of this campaign. According to the same source, the anti-legalization in California had spent no more than $2 million.