The principal members of the San Luis Obispo County Criminal Justice Administrators’ Association include the chief law enforcement officer from each of the 17 local law enforcement agencies. The principal members are opposed to Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 — which seeks to legalize, not regulate, marijuana in California.
Our opposition to the measure is unanimous as the initiative is misleading. Though captioned “Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis,” the initiative contains no provisions that allow the state to regulate or control the cultivation, sale or use of marijuana.
Rather, the initiative assigns the task of regulation — without guidance — to each individual city in California. The state of California is, in fact, prohibited from regulating marijuana, its cultivation, sale, transportation, or use.
The state is also forbidden by the initiative from enacting any tax specifically aimed at marijuana-related activities. This is in direct conflict with the initiative’s own stated intention to raise “billions” of dollars for the state. The initiative provides only that taxing is left to each individual county or city.
Particularly misleading in the initiative’s statement of intent is its claim that marijuana will be regulated just like alcohol and tobacco. This claim is simply untrue and the Criminal Justice Administrators’ Association feels it is imperative that the voters be adequately warned of this deception.
Alcohol, for example, is controlled by a legal framework set forth in the Constitution and is regulated by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control, which is responsible for investigating and enforcing the law. By contrast, this initiative would allow each of the 536 cities and counties in the state to “figure out” how each jurisdiction would enforce the laws with regard to marijuana.
Even if marijuana could be taxed by the state like alcohol, the generated revenue would come nowhere near the costs associated with the negative impacts that are expected to occur. The annual tax revenue collected from alcohol taxes in the United States (approximately $15 billion) is less than 10 percent of the more than $185 billion in annual alcohol-related costs in our country from lost productivity, criminal justice and health care.
The initiative also provides that an employee who uses and/or tests positive for marijuana on the job could not be disciplined in any way by his or her employer as that would constitute impermissible “workplace discrimination” unless the employer could somehow also prove that the employee was “impaired,” a term that is undefined by the initiative and likely to result in costly litigation.
The initiative would thus make it virtually impossible for a California employer to be in compliance with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. An employer unable to comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act would be ineligible to gain federal funding and may lose funding that has already been obtained.
It is estimated that the state, education, and your city or county will lose federally funded dollars, many of which are relied upon for your community’s schools, road improvements and public safety.
This initiative is aimed at only one target — the outright legalization of marijuana use, cultivation and sales. Rather than regulate, control or tax marijuana, this initiative authorizes cities or counties to permit adults to grow and possess as much marijuana as that city or county wishes to allow.
It permits the uncontrolled distribution of marijuana, it permits individuals to grow marijuana on residential properties as well as on public lands and harvest and accumulate a virtually unlimited amount, it permits use of marijuana at a workplace without any controls, it permits individuals to grow marijuana next to your schools, day care facilities and parks, and it includes conflicts within its own language as it seems to prohibit, yet at the same time allow, consumption of marijuana in public places.
Proposition 19 would permit every residential owner or apartment renter to grow marijuana and dedicate up to 25 square feet per person to the crop, allowing for the growing of approximately 75 pounds of marijuana per person per year. Neighboring property owners or apartment dwellers would have virtually no protection of their interest in the value or enjoyment of their homes.
In summary, Proposition 19 neither regulates, controls nor allows for state taxes of marijuana. Not only will it fail to generate income for California, it will reduce residential property values, rob employers of millions of dollars in federal funding, create a confusing and unmanageable system of local ordinances and threaten the well-being of our citizens.
Please join the Criminal Justice Administrators’ Association in our vehement opposition to this deceptive and dangerous initiative.
Jim Copsey is the Grover Beach police chief and chairman of the San Luis Obispo County Criminal Justice Administrators’ Association.