This November, California voters will decide more than just who the next president of the United States is. There are 15 propositions on the California ballot this year and one of them regards the legalization of recreational marijuana.
In 1996, Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana for conditions such as cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, and arthritis, but this year Proposition 64 could legalize recreational use for people 21 and over in the state of California. Recreational marijuana would be treated as alcohol is and it is illegal to smoke marijuana anywhere it is illegal to use tobacco products.
“[Marijuana] is legalized in other states and I feel it’s an appropriate age to legalize marijuana,” sophomore Maile Tibon said. Tibon is in favor of Prop 64 being passed because marijuana is so similar to alcohol.
“I think if it is passed that students will stop complaining about it not be legal and we can focus on more important issues that we have,” junior Nicole Vasquez said.
Support for the proposition is around 60 percent and the Democratic party endorses it, but the Republican party opposes it. The possibility of children gaining access to recreational marijuana is one of the main reasons the party gives for opposing the legalization of it.
It is debated whether marijuana actually has negative health effects on teenagers that use it, but some possible effects could be addiction and altered brain functions. The proposition has safeguards against children buying marijuana, but recent surveys by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that these might not be needed.
Teenagers are now using marijuana less often than adults and the number of elderly who use marijuana is rising. Legalizing marijuana might not have that much effect on children since the drug will not be any more available to them than it is now.
“I feel that alcohol will affect high school students more than marijuana will,” Tibon said.
Anyone under 18 who is found with marijuana in their possession will need to do community service or go to a counseling or education program. People between 18 years-old and 21 years-old will be fined up to $500 or be sent to jail for up to six months. People over 21 who sell marijuana without a state-issued license can also be fined or jailed for the same amount of money and time.
“If you’re caught with [marijuana] underage then you should go to jail or do community service,” freshman Madison Jelley said.
“Marijuana [will be] legalized and there are high school students that are underaged with alcohol,” Tibon said in opposition to the punishments for underage possession or sale of marijuana.
“You can really get addicted to marijuana, like any other drug out there, so I feel like it should be intervention programs for all ages,” Vasquez said in opposition to the possibility of jail time for people between 18 and 21.
Proposition 64 will allow people who are currently in jail for anything regarding marijuana to apply for resentencing and those with charges against them to petition to have them dropped.
If passed, the proposition requires businesses to get licences to sell marijuana, but anyone is able to grow up to six plants themselves as long as it is in a locked area that is concealed from the public. There would be regulations to make products with marijuana in them, especially edibles, less appealing to kids.
Tax from the sale of marijuana and the revenue would be spent on drug research, regulation and enforcement. Other money gained from the taxes would go toward educating kids or repairing environmental damage from illegal cultivation of marijuana.
Proposition 64 treats marijuana similar to alcohol and includes safeguards that protect children and teenagers from obtaining it. This November, California voters will determine if marijuana will be legalized for people over 21 or if the regulations aren’t enough to protect people from its potentially harmful effects.