Proponents of Prop 64 argue that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is about social justice and decriminalization because they know these are important issues for minorities and communities of color. However criminal justice reform and marijuana legalization are and should be viewed as separate issues. We know this because previous laws that legalized medical marijuana did not fix the criminal justice system, and legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes won't either.
However, the negative public health and safety consequences of increased access to marijuana are expected to disproportionately impact youth and low income communities of color.
Consider the negative public health impacts Prop 64 will have on our communities:
#1: Youth are one of the groups most at risk for harms associated with regular marijuana use.
25% of youth in LA County aged 12-17 report that they already use marijuana according to an assessment conducted by Rethinking Access to Marijuana. Prop 64 would further expand access to youth under age 21 in an unprecedented way. Community-based organizations oppose Prop 64 because the risks to the health, development and safety of youth and young adults is too great. Prop. 64 would actually create new crimes and calls for jail time for youth for a host of new offenses. Public health providers acknowledge that social and physical conditions within communities play a major role in shaping the health and well-being of community members, especially youth, and it is unfair to criminalize youth for a behavior that has become social norm, especially if we make access even easier. Additionally, increased exposure to marijuana seems to correlate to increased youth use. According to a nationwide survey of young adults ages 18 to 25, children of parents who smoke marijuana are more than three times more likely to use it themselves.
#2: Marijuana has been decriminalized in CA since 2014.
Prop. 47 which passed in 2014 has already decriminalized simple possession of almost all drugs, including marijuana, and possession of marijuana has already been reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in CA. As a result, California has already drastically reduced all drug-related arrests and the prison population across the state. In Los Angeles County, drug arrests fell one-third just in the first year, made nearly 10,000 inmates eligible for re-sentencing, and thousands others have already been released. Prop. 64 would actually create new crimes and calls for jail time for a host of new offenses for young adults, and we can expect communities of color and young adults under 21 in particular will be targeted.
#3: Prop. 64 does not ear-mark any specific revenue for youth or adult prevention education
Only "remaining funds" make mention of youth drug prevention and education, none of which are guaranteed funds. Prevention is basically left out and is an after-thought in this law. This is unfair to low income communities of color who are still dealing with problems associated with liquor stores at every corner, and high rates of addiction to alcohol and other drugs.
#4: Prop. 64 would increase "drugged driving" and drug-related traffic fatalities.
Drug-related traffic fatalities have more than doubled in Washington and Colorado since regulation. Law enforcement is not currently aware of any standard measurement that can be used to measure intoxication of marijuana as exists for alcohol, and this law does not address this serious safety concern.
#5: Prop 64. would undermine restrictions on smoking advertising.
Tobacco ads have been banned from television for decades, but Proposition 64 will allow marijuana smoking ads in prime time, and on programs with millions of children and teenage viewers. The risk of second hand smoke and lung cancer rates could also increase.
Other things Prop 64 would do:
What can we do if Prop 64 passes?
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