Marijuana Legalization

Sonia Mahajan, Senior Staff

Ever since marijuana was legalized in California, business has been booming. In November of 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults, age twenty-one and over. The proposition was put into action on New Year’s Day. The legalization of marijuana is definitely a win for the state. Unlike the five other states that allow legalized marijuana, California has the sheer size to grow the agricultural aspect of the marijuana industry; it also has a larger population than the other five states combined. California’s newly-formed pot industry will attract tourists as well. Michael Gordon, CEO and co-founder of Kush Tourism, claims that 30 percent to 40 percent of his customers are tourists. Opponents to the growing industry have raised concerns regarding a lack of restrictions. However, under the law, people age 21 and over have limits to the amount they can consume: 28.5 grams of marijuana. Additionally, there are new cannabis taxes: a 15 percent excise tax and a cultivation tax. If someone is involved with commercial cannabis activity without a license, they are subject to penalties; each day of unauthorized activity accounts for one violation. With these regulations comes a decrease in gang-related violence. People who encounter injustice of any kind can consult with police and the judicial system without finding alternative ways, such as violent ones. Attorney General of the United States Jeff Sessions has brought up debunked facts regarding marijuana in the past: “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that”. On the contrary, Denver saw a 2.2 percent decrease in violent crime rates after their first year of legalized cannabis. In 2016, the pot industry created more than 18,000 jobs in Colorado. A study from the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, Harvard University, and Western Carolina University has concluded that the implementation of legal cannabis in the United States has neither made a positive or negative impact with drug abuse. Sessions is facing more criticism after releasing a statement virtually rolling back an Obama-era policy. He released the statement in early January: “Today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country”. In other words, under the Obama Administration the federal government “turned a blind eye” towards every state’s view on marijuana. Sessions wants the opposite to happen. Clearly, the taxpayer’s money could be spent elsewhere. California Representative in the House Julia Brownley responded to Sessions in a tweet. She commented, “The state of California has the right to enact its own policies on marijuana, and the voters have spoken. Rather than wasting taxpayer money going after medical and recreational marijuana users, Attorney General Sessions should concentrate on protecting Americans from criminals”. To conclude, California’s young marijuana industry will likely expand to become the nation’s largest. It will benefit the economy, while still having the ideal regulations. It will also decrease gang-related violence and will not have an impact with drug abuse or addiction. Things are looking golden for the Golden State.