Marijuana initiative debated in Sacramento

September 21, 2010 7:11:50 PM PDT
An organization one might intuitively think would support legalizing pot across the board came out against Proposition 19 Tuesday.

The split in the medical marijuana community on Prop 19 comes as a surprise. The California Cannabis Association and others say they support the legalization and taxation of pot's recreational use, but not the way it is laid out in the initiative.

They worry giving local cities and counties the ability to opt out of implementing Prop 19 would make marijuana less available for people who need the drug for medical purposes.

"I really honestly feel patients have been sold a bill of goods that will take away access they have to medication," Crusaders for Patient Rights spokesperson Lanette Davies said.

But the people who qualified Prop 19 for the November ballot say they were careful to protect medical marijuana patients when writing the ballot measure.

"We are not circumventing, repealing or amending the rights of Californians with respect to medical cannabis," Yes On Prop 19 spokesperson Jeff Jones said. "It's going to invoke more rights, protections and allow for better accessibility."

In Sacramento at a Prop 19 hearing, opponents also voiced concern about the patchwork of marijuana laws if some jurisdictions embraced them, while others did not.

"It makes enforcement from a public safety stand point virtually impossible because when people are moving, transferring back and forth between counties, it'll be impossible to prove where that marijuana originated," Calif. District Attorneys Association spokesperson Jan Scully said.

But supporters say police should not be going after marijuana-related crimes in the first place.

"It's a waste of law enforcement resource, especially when marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol," retired LAPD Deputy Chief Stephen Downing said.

Supporters also picked up a big endorsement today. SEIU, California's largest labor union, says the more than $1 billion in taxes marijuana would bring in a year would save jobs and avoid cuts social programs.


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