LOS ANGELES, Xinhua– A mentally unstable woman holding a sign reading, “It is time to open marijuana” created chaos Wednesday in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles. She attempted to attack passersby and take hostages with a metal object, said the local police. Fortunately no one was hurt.
This was not the first incident concerning the legalization of marijuana in California, a debate that has been underway for years. On Nov. 8, Californian voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or Proposition 64.
California has already permitted medical marijuana use since 1996. This new initiative will move a step further and allow adults aged over 21 to possess, transport, purchase, consume and share up to one ounce (around 28.4 grams) of marijuana and up to eight grams of marijuana concentrate, and allow one household to cultivate as many as six plants out of public view.
“It is time to extend the medical marijuana control out into the recreational users,” Charles Kaplan, a professor of drug and social policy at the University of Southern California, said Tuesday at a public forum on legalizing marijuana.
“If we push it underground to the illicit market, then we will have many more problems. So it is better to take the machinery that we have had from the medical marijuana, which is over 20 years of experience in a regulatory system, to recreational use,” Kaplan said.
Proposition 64 is supported by many associations and groups, including the California Medical Association and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It is expected to raise up to 1 billion U.S. dollars a year when it is fully implemented,” California State Director for the DPA Lynne Lyman said at the forum.
Those tax will be distributed to different educational, medical and social programs, she added.However, Roger Morgan, founder of an opposition organization Stop Pot 2016, argues that the 1 billion dollar projection is “a joke.”
“The black market won’t go away, and won’t pay taxes, nor will home growers,” Morgan said. He also regarded marijuana as a “colossal disaster” to the environment, adding that “50,000 outdoor cultivation sites are illegal, sucking out 6-8 gallon (around 22.7-30.3 litres) water a day per plant. They dry out rivers all over the state.”
On the other hand, supporters believe the current environmental damage could be helped by Proposition 64.Char Miller, a professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College said that the bill would push the reduction of public lands “into a more legal structured and regulated system that you can control.”
As to concerns regarding any impact on juveniles, Lyman emphasized that “Proposition 64 prohibits the marketing and advertising of marijuana to minors.”However, Morgan argued that “Proposition 64 would allow any residents in California to have six plants in their homes. If you got it in your house, your kid will have access to it, and their friends will have access to it.”
Health experts say marijuana causes learning and memory impairments, rapid heartbeat, and low blood pressure.Cognition impairment could result in heavy smokers, said Robert L. Stein, a professor of pharmacy law and ethics at Keck Graduate Institute, although he added that the negative health impacts are largely reversible for adults.
A poll conducted last year by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that 55 percent of likely voters in California support full legalization, according to the Los Angeles Times.If Proposition 64 becomes law, California will join Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon to allow for the recreational use of marijuana.
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