By "Radical" Russ Belville
Non-Partisan Report Finds Cannabis Initiative Would Put Police Priorities Where they Belong, Generate Hundreds of Millions in Revenue, Protect the Public
(Sacramento, CA) The California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), which provides non-partisan fiscal and policy advice, yesterday released a report on Proposition 19 , the initiative to control and tax cannabis in California.
The report found that Proposition 19 would enable California to steer police resources toward more pressing matters, generate hundreds of millions in revenue to fund vital services, and protect children, roadways, and workplaces.
The report confirms that Proposition 19 will enable state and local governments to tax marijuana and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
In other words, everything Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in her opposition to Prop 19 is wrong.
According to the report, “Proposition 19 allows local governments to authorize, regulate, and tax various commercial marijuana-related activities. As discussed below, the state also could authorize, regulate, and tax such activities… we estimate that the state and local governments could eventually collect hundreds of millions of dollars annually in additional revenues.”
According to the report, Proposition 19 would enable California to put our police priorities where they belong. The report says the initiative “could result in savings to the state and local governments by reducing the number of marijuana offenders incarcerated in state prisons and county jails, as well as the number placed under county probation or state parole supervision. These savings could reach several tens of millions of dollars annually. The county jail savings would be offset to the extent that jail beds no longer needed for marijuana offenders were used for other criminals who are now being released early because of a lack of jail space.”
On the subject of road safety and the protection of minors, the report says that under the initiative, “the smoking of marijuana in the presence of minors is not permitted. In addition, the measure would not change existing laws that prohibit driving under the influence of drugs or that prohibit possessing marijuana on the grounds of elementary, middle, and high schools. Moreover, a person age 21 or older who knowingly gave marijuana to a person age 18 through 20 could be sent to county jail for up to six months and fined up to $1,000 per offense. (The measure does not change existing criminal laws which impose penalties for adults who furnish marijuana to minors under the age of 18.)”
When it comes to workplace safety, the report says Proposition 19 “does specify that employers would retain existing rights to address consumption of marijuana that impairs an employee’s job performance.”
Similar to current alcohol and tobacco laws, the Initiative will give state and local governments the ability to control and tax the sale of small amounts of cannabis to adults age 21 and older. The Initiative includes significant safeguards and controls: it will increase the penalty for providing marijuana to a minor, expressly prohibit the consumption of marijuana in public, forbid smoking marijuana while minors are present, ban possession on school grounds, and maintain the current law against driving under the influence.
California’s tax regulator, the Board of Equalization, estimates that marijuana taxes could generate $1.4 billion in revenue each year.
Man, I really wish the campaign wouldn’t use those figures. That was analysis of Tom Ammiano’s bill that would mandate a statewide $50/ounce tax. Prop 19 isn’t statewide and it doesn’t specify any tax rate.
Taxes, in the few localities that will authorize buying and selling, will be determined by the locality… it’s not going to add up to anything close to $1.4 billion. However, when it comes to revenue garnered by government from cannabis, it will be bigger than the $0 being collected now.
A summary of the Initiative’s fiscal benefits is available at:
A summary of the Initiative’s public safety benefits is available at: