On Nov. 2, California voters will have a chance to change history. Prop. 19 is providing an opportunity for voters to decide whether or not to legalize and tax marijuana for adults over the age of 21.
While opponents (including large alcohol companies) have recently come out strong against the proposition, the momentum to pass the bill has also stayed strong. After working on the campaign and hearing the discussions that have circulated amongst activists, it has become apparent to me that passing Prop. 19 is the next best move for our state.
Since the criminalization of marijuana in the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, America has never seen a decline in marijuana use. In my experience, smoking cannabis has become an activity that many people participate in and enjoy, particularly on college campuses. However, these students take a chance by smoking something that has a disputable amount of physical harm. Why should hard-working students face enormous fines and jail time for smoking something that has been used as a medicine in our state since 1996?
Prop. 19 is the key to changing the current marijuana laws into a reasonable, manageable, and safe set of regulations. Many against the proposition are concerned that children will somehow have increased access if legalization occurs, but I would argue Prop. 19 will help to better regulate marijuana sales. It will take the age limit of marijuana out of dealers’ hands and into a system that will be regulated like tobacco and alcohol. I’ve heard high schoolers say getting their hands on marijuana is easier than it is to acquire alcohol. I think this is a much better solution and will keep our children safe. So yes, voting yes on Prop. 19 is the best decision to make in keeping our children safe as it will regulate the avenues from which they can purchase marijuana.
As a result of California’s enormous budget deficit, the state continues to cut budgets for programs essential to the well-being of our state. For example, the public education system has taken a huge fall due to budget cuts. Sports, arts, and other extra curriculars have been cut entirely – examples include the recent cuts of Cal Berkeley’s baseball, gymnastics, and lacrosse teams. I personally experienced the crunch of the economy last semester when at Diablo Valley College three of the five classes I planned to take had been canceled due to budget cuts. The State Board of Equalization predicts that Prop. 19 will bring in $1.4 billion a year from taxes – a possible solution to the budget crisis. On top of that, many more millions will be saved in police money from not prosecuting cannabis crimes, according to the official “Yes on 19”
Today, I will vote yes on Prop 19—both for myself and in hopes of a much larger positive change for California.
— Zoe Schreiber