How will California change if voters make marijuana legal?
Polls show California voters may well approve Proposition 19, which would make marijuana legal in the state. Costs and benefits are hotly debated by both sides.
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ACSA says Prop. 19 could throw some schools out of compliance with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, which requires employers who receive more than $100,000 in government funds to keep employees free of drugs. ACSA executive director Bob Wells says passage of Prop. 19 could cause schools to lose as much as $9.4 billion in federal funding, and could endanger students.Skip to next paragraph
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"The initiative as written includes language that prohibits employers from going after employees they suspect may be high," says Mr. Wells. "So you can imagine our concern if we suspect that a teacher or bus driver is under the influence."
ACSA also holds that marijuana will not be regulated in the same way as alcohol or other drugs, and that there is no standard of impairment like that which exists for alcohol. Proponents of Prop. 19 counter that California's legislature will be able to quickly establish a legal limit.
Another unknown surrounding the passage of Prop. 19 is how the Obama administration might deal with regulation and enforcement.
"The federal government is committed to enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, and the Department of Justice will continue to focus its enforcement resources on significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, in all states," reads a Justice Department statement. "It is premature to speculate what steps we would take in the event that California passes its ballot measure."
Prop. 19 also faces opposition from what seems an unlikely group: medical marijuana users and producers. Medical marijuana has been legal in California for 14 years, and established growers in the Bay Area worry that their livelihoods will be destroyed if Prop. 19 passes and entrepreneurs proceed with plans to turn Oakland (already a production and distribution center) into a "Silicon Valley of pot." Medical marijuana users, too, say they foresee a loss of product quality and choice, as assembly-line cannabis production pushes aside the quality and variety they've come to expect.
"We are just starting to see complications with the maturation of the marijuana industry and marijuana politics, as the reality of ending marijuana prohibition becomes more likely," says Stephen Gutwillig, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national organization working to find alternatives to marijuana prohibition. "Oakland is trying to figure out how to best regulate an already-sizable piece of the local economy in a way that maximizes order, local revenue, and benefits to medical marijuana patients."