California Votes on Legalized Recreational Marijuana

Voters in California will soon choose whether or not to fully legalize marijuana. The state already allows for legal medicinal marijuana, but the upcoming election will determine if recreational marijuana will become legal in the state.

The legal marijuana initiative got enough signatures to secure a place on the November ballot. Sean Parker, former president of Facebook, is one of the leaders behind funding and gaining support for this initiative.

If marijuana is legalized in California, one in six Americans would live in a state with legal marijuana options.

Restrictions Will Remain

However, even if Golden State voters approve the measure, there would still be some restrictions in place. For example, marijuana would be prohibited in the same places that do not allow public tobacco use, like bars, restaurants and similar enclosed public locations.

If the initiative passes, people ages 21 and up would be able to legally purchase an ounce of marijuana and marijuana-based products from licensed retailers. People would also be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants in their home for personal use.

Aside from the recreational use, legal marijuana has the potential to make the state of California a lot of money. Medical and recreational marijuana would have an initial tax of 15%, though individual counties and cities would also have the right to enact their own taxes and fees.

Legalized marijuana could earn as much as $1 billion in revenue per year, according to an estimation from California officials. It could also lower costs for public safety, like courts, police and prisons by tens of millions of dollars.

California Votes: Supporters and Opponents of Legalized Marijuana

Some of the initiative’s biggest supporters feel that it is a civil rights issue.  This is because minorities often get arrested for a disproportionate number of drug-related crimes. Supporters also argue that legalizing marijuana will make it more difficult for underage people to get marijuana.

Organizations that support the legal marijuana initiative include the California Democratic Party, the California NAACP and the California Medical Association.

Opponents of the legal marijuana initiative include some groups of hospitals and police chiefs and the California Republican Party.

California got close to legalizing marijuana in 2010, with the measure missing the mark by 7 percentage points. Two years later in 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana.

Voters in California are not the only citizens voting on marijuana legislation this November. Other recreational marijuana initiatives will be on ballots in Maine and Nevada.