California’s Proposition 64, an initiative aimed at ending marijuana prohibition all across the Golden State, comes with a sneaky, mostly unpublicized provision, calling for some minor marijuana offenders to continue being sent to jail.
One of the most crucial arguments of any pro-marijuana campaign is that by legalizing the leaf in a manner similar to beer, fewer people will be entered into the criminal justice system simply for the possession of marijuana. Not only is this reform supposed to save the taxpayers money, but it is also intended to give police forces more time to chase down violent criminals.
But even if the California voters hit the polls on Tuesday to lend support for a new recreational cannabis trade, what they might not know is their actions will do very little to prevent people, just like them, from incurring the wrath of heavy fines and even imprisonment simply for having a small amount of a legal plant in their possession.
That’s because Proposition 64 still considers it a criminal offense for a person to be in possession of more than an ounce of marijuana.
“Persons 18 years of age or over who possess more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, or more than four grams of concentrated cannabis, or both, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than six months or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by both such fine and imprisonment,” reads Section 8 of the initiative entitled Criminal Offenses, Records, and Resentencing.
The law created under Proposition 64 is like putting a person in jail for having too many cases of beer in the trunk. When was the last time you heard of that happening?
Interestingly, the Drug Police Alliance recently published a new report suggesting that voters should support Proposition 64 in the upcoming election because there are still too many people in California being convicted of marijuana crimes and sent to jail. The report found there has only been a 21 percent decrease in marijuana-related imprisonments since 2010 – back when the state put a decriminalization law into effect.
However, it is worth mentioning that many of the 2,139 people in California sent to jail last year for marijuana crimes would still be sitting behind bars under Proposition 64.
Nevertheless, California is expected to approve legal weed in Tuesday’s election. The latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows 58 percent of the voters will support Proposition 64, while 37 percent will oppose.
At this point, most agree the benefits of Proposition 64 would vastly outweigh its negative connotations.