California Proposition 64, Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

By Trissean McDonald 

Photo Credit: Herb
Los Angeles, California:  California Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization initiative, will officially be on the November 8, 2016 ballot in California as an initiated state statue. This initiative, if passed, would allow individuals age 21 and older to posses, cultivate, and use marijuana for recreational purposes. Although recreational use of marijuana is illegal in California, a proposition passed in 1996, Proposition 215 and SB 420, which enables the use of medicinal marijuana to this very day. Nevertheless there are some physicians that are rather lenient with this proposition, administering marijuana to individuals that usually give themselves a prognosis, in which the physicians agrees by signing a license that permits their patients to use medicinal marijuana. But how is it that medicinal marijuana was legalized in the state of California in 1996 and not legalized for recreational use, when doctors are actually pushing it for recreational use? In case you were wondering some symptoms that may be permissible for medicinal marijuana they include epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, autism, PTSD, HIV/AIDs, multiple sclerosis (MS), mental disorders, pain, and inflammation, according to High Times and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. To revisit some of the previous mentioned propositions, Proposition 215 and SB 420, also referred to as the Medical Marijuana Initiative, was on the November 5, 1996 statewide ballot as an initiated state statue, in which became approved. This particular initiative exempts patients and “caregivers” who posses or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by a physician from criminal laws which actually prohibits possession or cultivation of marijuana, according to BallotPedia.

The California Proposition 64 initiative is not the first. California Proposition 19, an initiative on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot, was refuted with at least 53.5% of California voters voting “No” and 46.5% voting “Yes.” If the initiative were to pass, it would have legalized cultivation, possession, or even transportation of marijuana for personal use; additionally, the local government would have regulated and taxed commercial production and sales of marijuana to people 21 years or older. It would have also prohibited people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using/smoking it in public, using/smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under the age of 21 years of age. Also, it would have continued to maintain its long-lasting prohibition against driving while impaired. Although the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice usually don’t prosecute individuals or businesses who comply with state and local laws, both medical and recreational marijuana is illegal under federal law. Why is it a federal crime? It’s due to the US government having classified marijuana, within its 5 listed drug schedule, as a schedule 1 drug.

What are Schedule 1 drugs?

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency,

Drugs are Scheduled 1 following characteristics such as:

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or substance under medical supervision.

A list of the drugs in which the federal government deems scheduled 1 drug includes:

  • Heroin
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Marijuana (cannabis)
  • 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)
  • Methaqualone
  • Peyote

Are there any medical disparities/ailments for using marijuana frequently?

Studies conducted on the ailments of marijuana have concluded one out of six people who start using marijuana in their teens, and 25 to 50 of those who uses it daily, becomes addicted. Several long-term users who tried quitting have reported withdrawal symptoms including irritably, sleeplessness, decrease appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which can make it cumbersome to abstain. Teenagers who use marijuana can experience learning complications, inadequate judgment, as well as memory concentration. These aliments can cause long-lasting harm to adolescent brains that are still developing, disrupting the normal development of the white matter that brain cells need in order to communicate with each other, therefore interfering with the teen user’s ability to reason. Marijuana abuse can result to behavioral problems, lack of memory and concentration, loss of interest in hobbies, and interference with daily performance. Frequent marijuana smokers can develop the same symptoms that of a cigarette smoker such as phlegm production, a daily cough, more frequent acute chest illnesses, and a greater risk of chest infections.

What makes marijuana a scheduled 1 drug?

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, marijuana has a “high potential” of abuse, in which can possibly lead to psychological dependency. Additionally, marijuana has “no currently medical treatment” use in the United States.

Medical studies have in fact been conducted regarding marijuana efficacies and its aliments; however the federal government has not taken into account the researches surrounding marijuana by professional researchers, neither will they conduct their own study by expert research personals. On April 29, 2014 a study titled “Medical Marijuana Utilization and Perceived Therapeutic Value in Patients with ALS,” Jacob Kaufman, MD, third year in the Department of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania stated, “Cannabis has immunomodulatory [capable of regulating immune functions] properties and effects upon excitotoxicity [process by which neurons are damaged] that suggest that it might have a disease-modifying role in ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease]. There have also been some anecdotal reports suggesting that marijuana may be effective in alleviating certain ALS symptoms…”

What are the benefits if marijuana becomes legalized for recreational use in California?

It is most likely that on November 8, 2016, proposition 64 will become an initiated state statue. This would expeditiously dwarf current legalized state markets such as Alaska, Colorado, and Washington State. Colorado, for instance, collected more than $135 million in pot-related revenues last year; however, California could collect up to $1 billion annually within a few years of legalization, according to an article written by Robin Abcarian from the Los Angeles Times.  Also, if California was to vote to pass this initiative, other states will follow along, placing pressure upon the DEA to declassify and decriminalize marijuana as a Scheduled 1 drug, a drug within the same category as LSD and Heroin. Proposition 64 will allow individuals 21 and older to grow up to 6 plants at home (not visible to the public) and posses an ounce of marijuana and use it for non-medicinal purposes.

Sources: *National Institute on Drug Abuse, *Drug Facts Marijuana, * California Society of Addiction Medicine, * Impact on Children and Adolescents, *, *