In California, marijuana is once again a hot topic. Proposition 64, a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot, would legalize it for recreational purposes.
The proposal, similar to laws already on the books in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, would allow adults 21 years or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow as many as six plants for personal use out of public view. The drugs still would be forbidden for minors and couldn’t be consumed in public.
Medical use of marijuana is already legal in California. The proposed new law would regulate the sale of it for recreational use, using much of the same regulatory structure implemented at the beginning of this year for the medical marijuana industry. The proposition would also tax cultivation and sales of both medical and nonmedical marijuana and earmark those revenues for law enforcement training, drug deterrence programs for youth and to help diminish the environmental affects of large-scale cannabis growing, including use of pesticides and high-volume water and energy consumption.
Proponents of the measure include the California Democratic Party, the California Medical Association, state Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, former Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders and Napster co-founder Sean Parker. Supporters raised $11.5 million through August, including $3.3 million from Parker, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.
Opponents have raised $229,385. Among them are the California Republican Party, the California Hospital Association, the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Libertarian Party.
The Libertarians are opposing Proposition 64 even though they have urged an end to the prohibition on marijuana for more than 40 years. The party says on its website that the measure, “does more harm than good, damaging medical availability, and creating additional criminal offenses and regulations.”
It’s clear that supporters and opponents of the measure don’t always line up as expected.
To capture some of the complexities of the marijuana debate, California Healthline talked to two law enforcement professionals, one in favor of the legalization initiative and the other opposed to it.
Former L.A. County detective and deputy sheriff Nick Morrow, a certified drug recognition instructor who now works as an expert witness, private investigator and consultant, spoke on behalf of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Lauren Michaels is the chief lobbyist of the California Police Chiefs Association, which opposes the marijuana legalization measure.
Both interviews have been edited for length and clarity.