In what is arguably the most controversial ballot issue in the country, California's voters will consider Prop 19 which would make our state the first to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
If passed, Prop 19 would make it legal for anyone 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use and to grow a limited amount. Cities and counties would be authorized to regulate and tax commercial marijuana production and sales.
“We have to stop making our friends and neighbors criminals for this behavior," Danesh Tandon
, a defense attorney, said during a panel on the issue at San Diego
's Thomas Jefferson School of Law Wednesday night.
"If you are sitting in this audience and you have not used marijuana, the person sitting next to you statistically has and they are not a criminal," Tandon said.
Proponents argue that it would help with the state's budget shortfall, cut off funding to violent drug cartels, and free up law enforcement officers.
Not so according to Deputy District Attorney Sophia Roach
. “There is no taxation of this personal use and the idea that this is going to save our state by allowing marijuana to be taxed is somewhat fraudulent,” Roach told the small audience.
Those against Prop 19 claim that it's gaps will have serious consequences on public safety, federal funding, and the workplace.
Second year law student, Jim Hassey
went in to the discussion supporting Prop 19. After, however, he's torn.
“If you legalize marijuana you are going to increase the use. If you are going to bring in the bad you have to have a way for it to be good for the state,” Hassey said.
President Obama opposes Proposition 19 and the U.S. Attorney General said they will enforce drug laws even if the state measure passes.
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Published at 1:08 PM PDT on Oct 21, 2010