News / USA

California to Vote on Legalizing Marijuana

Western state could become the first to approve pot use for non-medical purposes

Multimedia

Mike O'Sullivan

Proposition 19 would legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, despite a federal law against it.
Proposition 19 would legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, despite a federal law against it.

California could become the first American state to allow people to smoke a joint just because they feel like it.

In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to approve the medical use of marijuana. Since then, 13 other states and Washington, D.C., have passed similar laws.

Now a measure on the California ballot in November, called Proposition 19, will determine whether to legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, despite a federal law against it.  

Proposition 19

Marijuana is widely available in California at special cooperatives and clinics. Anyone with a doctor's note who is registered as a marijuana patient can get the drug for nearly any ailment.

What California voters must now decide is whether to legalize and tax small amounts of marijuana for use by any adult - without a doctor's note. The measure was placed on the ballot through a petition drive.  

"It decriminalizes possession [of small] amounts, while at the same time offers up the opportunity to control, tax and regulate on the other side," explains Dale Sky Jones, spokeswoman for the campaign in support of Proposition 19.

Thriving industry

In the city of Oakland, a thriving industry has grown around marijuana and other products of the hemp plant. The Oakland Patient ID Center is a privately-run enterprise which issues identity cards to its members and sells marijuana-related supplies.

"Basically, we provide anything that has to do with hemp-associated goods, anything made out of hemp," says Chad Gilmore, who manages the center. "We carry T-shirts and bags and products - body products and shampoos and such - that are all associated with hemp oils.  But we also carry pipes and smoking supplies.  A lot of vaporizers, vaporizers being another way to medicate in a concentrated for with hot air."

Oakland is also home to a training school called Oaksterdam University, named after Oakland and the marijuana-tolerant Dutch city of Amsterdam. Students learn to grow marijuana and run marijuana clinics.  Spokeswoman Salwa Ibrahim says the school attracts students from around the world.

"They've had Iran, Japan, the Philippines, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Russia," she says. "We've had students from all over."

One of them is Jesus Hernandez, an 18-year-old from Alameda, California.

"I plan to get into the industry, make as much money as I can, take full advantage of this opportunity that I have," says Hernandez.

Money maker

Local officials at Oakland City Hall also hope to see the industry expand. City Council member Jean Quan says it can help the local economy and increase tax revenue.

"Either medical marijuana is going to be produced here on the West Coast or some day the tobacco industry, when it's legal, will probably produce in places like Virginia," says Quan. "But in the interim, there's a lot of interest, so we've decided to license four producers, and we've gotten over 100 applications. Some of the applications include partnerships with some pretty big drug companies and manufacturers."

While there is little opposition to marijuana in Oakland, polls show that California voters are divided on Proposition 19.  Former Oakland police officer Pete Dunbar is now police chief in the city of Pleasant Hill.

"Oakland sees this as being some way to help with their budget deficit because they've got the dispensaries already there in place and all it will take is a little bit of tweaking, regulation, and they could be up and running, which is a sad way to deal with your deficit by selling marijuana."

Details of existing law are still being debated and the new ballot measure would add more uncertainty.

Some critics say clinics skirt existing California law by selling marijuana. They argue the law requires marijuana patients to raise the plant themselves or in collectives, and not sell it.

Industrial-scale plots, like those planned in the city of Oakland, will probably bring court challenges. Many in the law enforcement community have asked federal authorities to contest the measure, if it does pass.  

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid