Proposition 64: New law should be cause for broad alarm

 Voters typically thought they were just voting to keep people out of jail and decriminalize marijuana. In fact, it had already been decriminalized, and no one in a California jail or prison is there for simple possession.

Voters typically thought they were just voting to keep people out of jail and decriminalize marijuana. In fact, it had already been decriminalized, and no one in a California jail or prison is there for simple possession.

The Californians Against Legalizing Marijuana group is disappointed and saddened to lose the Proposition 64 election because of what this means for the future of California, its citizens and its children. It is clear that California is no longer the Golden State. California does poorly in education and in measures of children’s well-being. With only 12 percent of the nation’s population, California has 33 percent of those on the nation’s welfare rolls. Homelessness and drug use are skyrocketing and the two are connected. None of these issues will be improved with more pot commercialization and use. Other problems of the state will be made worse as well.

Within a few days of the passage of Proposition 64, the San Diego Association of Government published a report indicating 76 percent of male arrestees tested positive for an illicit substance in 2015, 8 percent higher than in 2014 and the highest level in 16 years. The report found that an increasing percentage of males were using meth or marijuana. Fifty-two percent of male arrestees tested positive for marijuana in 2015 — up seven percent from 2014 and another 16-year high. Twenty-four percent of arrestees reported obtaining a “medical” marijuana card. Thirty-five percent reported they commit crime to support a drug habit.

Denver District Attorney Mitchell Morrissey tried to warn us, reporting that every crime type in every community of that city has increased after legalization. He said, “the Denver police department is busier enforcing marijuana laws and investigating crimes directly related to marijuana, including murders, robberies and home invasions, than any other time in the history of the city.”

We also have reports from hospitals in Colorado that more than 50 percent of newborns are testing positive for THC (marijuana). Teen use is one of the biggest concerns, but the brain isn’t fully developed until about age 25. Legalization itself puts many using adults in high-risk categories for depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, addiction, IQ loss, amotivational syndrome and more. All of us will be burdened with additional social and medical costs and are at risk on the roads and in the workplace.

Recently, the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General published “Facing Addiction in America.” Marijuana is mentioned 135 times, heroin 56 times, cocaine 89 times and meth 30 times.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that states with no legal marijuana have 15 percent to 16 percent of driving fatalities in which marijuana use is involved, medical-marijuana states have 18 percent to 21 percent, and recreational marijuana states have 23 percent to 31 percent. Having a beer while smoking dope makes the risk of a driving fatality eight times higher than with a normal driver. Marijuana driving fatalities in Washington state doubled in less than a year after legalization.

Yet pop culture and much of the media continue to downplay the impacts and health and safety concerns about marijuana with some (including this newspaper’s editorial page) even supporting legalization. Our exit polling indicates voters didn’t know that Proposition 64 allows every residence to become a grow site. Nor did they understand the advertising and commercialization that legalization creates.

Voters typically thought they were just voting to keep people out of jail and decriminalize marijuana. In fact, it had already been decriminalized, and no one in a California jail or prison is there for simple possession. But marijuana arrests in Colorado have actually increased after legalization and the quantity of illegal marijuana seized by the Denver police has increased 3,424 percent. The volume of marijuana seized per case increased from an average of 162 pounds to 5,724 pounds. That is over 6.8 million joints per case!

Proposition 64 was not a grass-roots effort. This issue would never have made the ballot if not for two billionaires putting up $8 million and paying up to $11 a signature.

After reading the ballot language, only a truly informed person would have voted against it with its promise of millions of criminal justice dollars being saved and $1 billion in tax revenue and programs coming. The tax revenue estimate has already been found to be a ruse, and the cost of the harms to society are never counted. For at least a generation California, like Colorado, will be burdening their communities and children with the scourge of marijuana. The negative impacts of legalization and commercialization will be regular headlines in the news and in the lives of Californians.

We now urge the people of California to call for federal enforcement of the Controlled Substance Act against commercial marijuana operations, trafficking, advertising and sales. We also urge every jurisdiction, city, county and community to enact land-use policies that block marijuana dealers from setting up shop in their communities and to create fines and penalties to help pay for the enforcement necessary to stop this insidious public health and safety plague.