Articles Tagged with drug laws

This past election, California voters chose to join the ranks of their northern neighbors Oregon and Washington, along with Alaska, Colorado, and Massachusetts, to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. California Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative (also referred to as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act), is the product of a long-fought ballot initiative. It is effective immediately, which means November 8 was the law’s date of passage.

Proponents of the ballot initiative have argued that drug charges disproportionally affect Hispanic or African-American communities, which have an arrest rate of 35% and 350% more often than whites, respectively. Additionally, California is predicted to earn $1 billion in from tax revenues. Most of that will be set aside for youth programs, cleaning up environmental damage caused by cannabis growers, and California Highway Patrol programs.

What Prop 64 Does

In the drought-ridden state of California, illegal pot farmers have been harming the watersheds, wildlife, and endangered species with the pollution runoff from their pot growing operations. ¬†While California was the first state to legalize the use of medical marijuana, the state is now struggling with environmental enforcement as illegal farms pollute the state’s waterways, poisoning the endangered salmon, steelhead trout, and Pacific fish. Unscrupulous growers who are unwilling to pay taxes or pay for permits have remained a problem. They are also likely exporting their marijuana across state lines to sell.

Because marijuana still remains illegal under federal law, farms stay hidden in forested, undeveloped watersheds so as not to gain the attention of federal authorities. The runoff of pesticides, THC, etc. from these farms has poisoned wildlife, and the water diversions from streams to water the plants have exacerbated the state’s drought and disturbed the surrounding ecosystem that depends on the water.

Legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October calls for the state to start regulating the cultivation industry and begin issuing permits for commercial growers in 2018. California will award licenses to commercial growers who also have local permits that are approved by the city, as an attempt to discourage backwoods, illegal farms.