By Gaby Martinez
Prior to the passing of Prop 64 which legalized the use of recreational marijuana on Tuesday, it seemed fairly easy to hash out blanket statements in regard to which side of the argument the voter stood. Could the conversation really be reduced to a simple question of right or wrong?. Leftover anti-drug rhetoric resembling that of the Just Say No campaigns back in the 70’s left voters with black and white choices, much like our choices for executive office seems to have left voters with only two opinions in discussion.
Primarily, opponents of its legalization asserted that the legalization of marijuana posed a potential increase in crime activity within our communities as well as the vulnerability of adolescent exposure to a “gateway drug”. Keeping this in mind, it was assumed that there were only two camps present in the debate. However, according to an article posted in the New York Times,
“Proposition 64 has split the medical cannabis community, with some seeing new opportunity and others fearing it will wreck a system that is working for nearly 800,000 medical pot card holders.”
This community was not given a seat in the debate and its legalization has now presented a serious threat to Grassroots organizations who were dedicated to honest, holistic medicinal marijuana awareness. These organizations were adamantly opposed to the recreational legalization of marijuana considering the inevitability of imposed taxation, increased media exposure, and the potential consequences of mass commercialization.
I spoke with someone who, possesses licensure to distribute medicinal marijuana in California and fears not only the heavy taxation on product, but the
“inability to provide our patients suffering from seizure disorders and mental illness with affordable medication.”
When discussing marijuana as a substance with medicinal benefit, it is important to evaluate certain variations in its structure. Cannabis has two main strains which growers and dispensaries are obligated to disclose to their patients. Cannabis Sativa gives the user an energetic head high, while Cannabis Indica is known for producing a euphoric-like, muscle relaxing body high. Understanding of this distinction is essential to both medicinal and recreational user education. Advocates of its medicinal use fear the potential consequences of ignorance that prevails within the larger community of recreational users.
Prior to Proposition 64, similar legislation was proposed for the legalization of marijuana back in 2010. Proposition 19 only lost out by a slim margin, which was incredibly frustrating to the cannabis community at the time. Since 2010, however, the medical marijuana industry has grown exponentially, both holistically and commercially. Small business dispensaries have flourished due to the amount of freedom within the market. Patient’s access and flourishing investments in the industry have presented marijuana as a particularly attractive business model for many middle class Californians. Its breadth of influence cannot be ignored.
While proponents for its legalization dominated most of the coverage for Prop64, attention to the opposition seemed to fall by the wayside. Those with considerable knowledge on the chemical processes associated with marijuana consumption had spoken out against its legalization. The economic aspects seemed to dominate the discussion. Advocates for legalization stressed potential profit in marijuana legalization as an incredible benefit to our economy.
Opponents of the proposition, however, are not the characters we might have assumed. “No on Prop64” emphasized some of the deeper potential consequences to legalization, beyond its recreational usage. Given its mass media attention over the past couple of years, direct opponents of Proposition 64 assert on their website that, “‘Yes on 64’ brings to light some important questions. The debate is not about whether to legalize recreational marijuana, but how. In other words, they are asking voters not just to endorse an idea, but a specific business model that creates winners and losers.” As of now, many Californians are celebrating its passing as a win. However, time will tell if winners and losers remain the same a couple years down the road.