Drug Law

Good News: Sacramento Bee Opposes Proposition 19

| by No On Prop 19

SACRAMENTO – The Sacramento Bee editorial board Sept. 20 recommended their readers vote NO on Proposition 19, the poorly written measure that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California.

The editorial “Prop.19 Deserves to go up in Smoke" (9/19/10) called Proposition 19 "a deeply flawed measure that would create many more problems than it could hope to solve."

"The measure on the Nov. 2 ballot is full of worrisome loopholes and ambiguities that would create a chaotic nightmare for law enforcement, local governments and businesses. It is so poorly drafted, in fact, that it almost makes you wonder: What were they smoking?”

The editorial noted the discrepancies between what proponents of Prop. 19 claim and the actual language in the initiative:

"Supporters say it would control and tax marijuana. It would do neither.

“Indeed, many of the positives that proponents advertise aren't actually written into the measure. For instance, they say that legalization would generate a huge financial windfall for the state and local governments by taxing $14 billion in annual illegal sales, plus create thousands of jobs for California's struggling economy. They cite the state Board of Equalization's estimate last year of $1.4 billion in annual tax revenues, enough to take a huge bite out of the budget deficit.

"But nowhere in the measure is a specific tax proposal. That issue is left entirely to the Legislature and local governments, so there are no guarantees about any pot taxes and whether they would be fair.

The Bee editorial board also noted the measure would not have the impact on crime claimed by supporters:

"This proposition would not magically end marijuana trafficking or put drug cartels out of business. A study by the respected Rand Corp. concluded that a sizable tax on pot – a bill introduced this year called for $50 per ounce – could create a whole new black market for cheaper drugs. Since it would still be illegal for those under 21 to possess marijuana, the illicit trade to feed the teen market would continue.”

Finally, the Bee expressed concerns over public and traffic safety that have been ignored by Prop. 19: 

"The passage of Proposition 19 would also saddle businesses with even more legal murkiness in trying to keep marijuana-impaired employees out of the workplace, especially from behind the wheel of school buses or other jobs that could affect public safety. The active ingredient in marijuana can stay in the body for weeks, so current widely available tests can't tell how recently a worker might have inhaled.

"The same uncertainty applies to enforcing driving-while-impaired laws. The measure has no definition of what would constitute driving under the influence of marijuana, unlike the 0.08 percent blood-alcohol standard for drunken driving.”

Editorial boards across the state have almost unanimously come out against Proposition 19. They include:

  • Contra Costa Times
  • (Palm Springs) Desert Sun
  • Gilroy Dispatch
  • North County Times
  • Riverside Press-Enterprise
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • Ventura County Star

The full editorial can be found online here: