Simply stated, passage of Prop. 19 would allow Californians 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate or transport small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
Prop. 19 also authorizes local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana.
All other laws on the books pertaining to marijuana possession on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old, driving under the influence, etc., would remain on the books.
Advocates point to the tens of millions of dollars that could be saved annually by state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising marijuana offenders. They also tout the benefits of legalizing a product that could then be taxed.
We will not dispute those claims. But before voters race to the polls next month to legalize the use of marijuana by adults, we need to sit down, strip out the emotional aspects, and have a serious debate about legalizing pot.
That discussion has not only not occurred with regard to Prop. 19, we believe it's safe to say this measure is too flawed to be taken seriously.
Among the major loopholes is that the claim of tax benefits are nebulous, at best. Nowhere in Prop. 19 is there language providing for specific taxes. Passage of Prop. 19 would only give a green light to the state Legislature and local governments to set up taxing mechanisms. Think about it.
In fact, California essentially decriminalized most personal marijuana use and possession for non-criminals more than three decades ago.
The medical use of marijuana has shown considerable value, but that's not what Prop. 19 is about. Before stepping into this unknown, we need a more comprehensive debate - and a better-written ballot measure.
We recommend a "no" vote on Proposition 19. See this editorial in tomorrow's Santa Maria Times.