California voters will soon decide the future of marijuana laws

This article looks at Proposition 64, which would legalize marijuana use for adults in California.

Californians will be making some big decisions during the upcoming election day. Not only will they be helping elect a new President and Congress, but they will also be having their say on a number of ballot initiatives. Among those ballot initiatives is Proposition 64, which would legalize the sale and possession of marijuana in California, similar to how Colorado and other states have already legalized the drug. As The San Diego Union-Tribune reports, polls show that support for Proposition 64 is high. Passage of the initiative would signal a big change to the state's drug laws and would be a major step forward in nationwide efforts to put marijuana prohibition to rest once and for all.

Proposition 64 Explained

As The Sacramento Bee explains, Proposition 64 would change California's marijuana laws in a number of significant ways. Most importantly, it would make the sale and possession of marijuana legal for anybody who is 21 years old or over. It would also allow people to grow up to six plants for their own, private consumption. The law would also allow for the resentencing of people convicted under the state's previous marijuana laws and would allow those with marijuana-related convictions to have their criminal records changed.

Essentially, Proposition 64 would allow the state to treat marijuana similar to how it already treats tobacco. The state would collect taxes on both the sale and cultivation of marijuana, while local governments would have the option of introducing further marijuana-related taxes and regulations. The industry would be regulated and advertising, especially to minors, would be strictly controlled.

Support For Legalization Grows

Support for Proposition 64 is high, with a recent poll showing that the "Yes" side has an 11-point lead over the "No" side. A poll from September also showed support across both gender and party lines, with a majority of men, women, Democrats and Republicans all supporting the initiative. Opponents of the measure have largely warned of increases in traffic accidents and increasing access of the drug to children as arguments against legalization.

While states like Colorado, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational marijuana use, doing so in California would nonetheless be groundbreaking given that the state is the largest by population in the country. Federal law still prohibits marijuana use, but if California moves to legalize the drug then pressure could grow to end federal prohibition entirely.

Criminal Defense

While Proposition 64 has a good chance of passing, it is important to note that for the time being marijuana remains illegal in California. Furthermore, this initiative does not affect the tough laws the state still has on the books for other drugs. Anybody who has been charged with a drug-related offense needs to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help defendants make sense of their legal options and assist them in maintaining their rights and freedoms during this difficult time.