By Katie Dexter | 11 a.m. July 15, 2016
As a longtime San Diegan, parent and local school board member, I have deep concerns about Proposition 64, the measure that could permit the large-scale production, advertising and retail sales of recreational marijuana in California. What we know from other states, like Colorado and Washington, that have gone down this road is that usage goes up. In fact, Colorado leads the nation in teen use of marijuana; and with this increased use comes obvious negative repercussions.
Proposition 64 will not only directly affect you, but more importantly, the young people and families that you care about.
In March, the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety reported that deaths in marijuana-related car crashes doubled since the state of Washington approved legalization. Further, after legalization in Colorado, marijuana-involved fatal crashes increased 34 percent. Currently, California averages over 300 fatal crashes a year due to marijuana-impaired driving. According to these statistics, if Proposition 64 passes, fatal crashes involving marijuana could go from 300 to 600 every year.
Still, Proposition 64 proponents refuse to include a DUI standard for marijuana, making it extremely difficult to keep impaired drivers off our highways. Driving under the influence is already a serious problem plaguing our roads and freeways. Proposition 64 only makes that problem worse. Opponents of Proposition 64 include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Association for Highway Patrolmen, the California Hospital Association and others concerned about how this ballot measure impacts public health and safety.
Despite what proponents claim, the truth is that Proposition 64 allows for marijuana growing and production near schools and parks. A careful read of the measure reveals it actually forbids local governments from banning indoor residential growing of marijuana — even next door to elementary schools — provided the crop is limited to six plants (providing approximately eight people with enough marijuana everyday for a year).
Proposition 64 also rolls back the limitation of tobacco advertising on television and other forms of media. The initiative is written so marijuana advertising could occur on popular television shows viewed by families and teens including “The Voice,” “The Big Bang Theory,” NCAA college football or even during the Olympic Games.
Parents and teachers struggle every day to monitor youth exposure to alcohol and tobacco. Proposition 64 elevates recreational marijuana above alcohol or tobacco and holds it to an even lower regulatory standard. Simply put, it will make the job of parents and teachers even more difficult. A leading supporter of Proposition 64 told a number of newspapers recently that his wife was “scared as hell” about Proposition 64 because of the potential impact on kids.
A number of years back, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law that made the possession of a small amount of marijuana equivalent to, or even less than, the fine for a traffic ticket. Californians no longer face the issue of teens or young people getting put in jail for minor marijuana possession, and we haven’t for decades. We have long since been able to treat and address their problems and addiction instead, and we do not need Proposition 64 to continue to do that.
Further, this initiative will do nothing to eliminate or curb black market or cartel trafficking and sales in California. Instead, this gives them a legal foothold. According to an analysis by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, Proposition 64 allows heroin and meth dealers with felony convictions into the legal marijuana business.
San Diegans are acutely aware there’s an all-out assault on underprivileged neighborhoods already reeling from alcohol and drug addiction problems. Proposition 64 deepens that problem. In the school district I serve, there are neighborhoods with no grocery stores, only liquor stores and smoke shops. If Proposition 64 passes, it will add a string of non-medical pot shops to go with those liquor stores, and that is not in the best interest of our communities or our children.
A similar initiative in 2010 was overwhelmingly defeated by California voters because its negative impacts outweighed any positives. Now those seeking to make their fortune in the marijuana industry are spending millions to pass Proposition 64. But, like any initiative, there are winners and losers. They’ve got it wrong again. If Proposition 64 passes, youth, schools and neighborhoods will be on the losing end. I strongly urge your “No” vote on Proposition 64.