When it comes to legalizing marijuana, California is the 800-pound joint in the room.
The Golden State is the largest pot producer and consumer in the country, legal or otherwise. It was the first to legalize medical marijuana 20 years ago, and now voters will decide on Nov. 8 whether to allow adults 21 years and older to consume cannabis for any reason.
Eight other states from Arizona to Maine will also vote to legalize marijuana in some form or the other, even though the federal government still puts pot in the same category as heroin.
“The nation will wake up,” said California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who helped author the state’s Prop 64. “The bottom line is the country will radically change because of what California is doing.”
Napster co-founder and former Facebook President Sean Parker has put more than $7 million behind Prop 64. A recent Field Poll said Californians support passage by a 2-to-1 margin.
This is six years after they rejected a legalization measure which critics called vague. Since then a handful of states have pushed through legalization, and Newsom said the lessons learned in places like Colorado and Washington helped form the new proposition. (By the way, he’s never smoked a joint in his life. “It’s interesting, no one believes that, and I lose credibility.”)
Even now however, not everybody in California supports legalization. Some of the loudest dissent is coming from a surprising corner: growers. “I’m starting to lean a little bit more toward the ‘No,'” said Sequoyah Hudson of True Humboldt, a consortium of farmers in Humboldt County, home to some of the most famous marijuana in the world. In this part of California, pot has long been the silent backbone of the economy.
How a Prop 64 will work
California’s Proposition 64 will allow adults 21 years or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana at any given time, or 8 grams of concentrate, and people will be allowed to grow up to six plants. Commercial retailers and manufacturers will need to be licensed and cannot be located near schools or child care centers. Sales will be subject to a 15 percent state tax, though there could also be local taxes.
Growers will be taxed $9.25 per ounce of marijuana flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves (leaves are used to make extracts, an increasing popular form of marijuana consumption). Taxes would kick in Jan. 18, 2018, giving the state plenty of time to get the program up and running.
Local municipalities could restrict marijuana businesses even further, or even ban them outright, but they cannot ban individuals from growing their own six plants.
There are 62 pages of rules in the proposition, but the hope is that legalization will lead to a huge payoff. Analysts estimate the pot market in California is somewhere between $9 billion and $13 billion a year, and taxes could reach $1 billion.
The taxes will not go into the general fund, however. “We didn’t want to create a reliance on the revenue,” said Newsom. “We’re not here to generate revenue off of people using any kind of drug … I’m just anti-prohibition.”
Read the other half of the article on CNBC: http://cnb.cx/2eE5uj8