By Morgan Humphrey
On November 8, Californians have the opportunity to make a giant leap in social justice reform by passing Proposition 64. Under Prop. 64, adults 21 years and older will be legally allowed to purchase, transport, and consume marijuana.
The initiative would regulate marijuana productions and sales, and provide 19 different types of licenses to participate in the marijuana industry. From the taxation of marijuana, we will be able to reinvest $50 million a year into communities most impacted by marijuana criminalization. Furthermore, the passage of Prop. 64 will enable the retroactive resentencing of any Californian with a current or past eligible marijuana conviction. Prop. 64 serves as a chance for justice.
Let me be very clear: Prop. 64 is not about smoking marijuana. If you are not a marijuana user, you should still vote “yes” on Prop. 64. Regardless of personal opinion on the benefits or harms of marijuana use, it goes without saying that no adult should be fined or incarcerated for personal consumption of marijuana.
No child should ever face the criminal justice system because of marijuana, and we need to do everything we can to protect youth from all aspects of marijuana, including use and criminalization. Under Prop. 64, marijuana will be legal for adults 21 and above, and those under the age of 18 will never serve a day in jail for marijuana.
Instead, Prop. 64 goes to great lengths to protect children from the criminal justice system through mandating community service, drug education or drug treatment instead of fines and incarceration. Prop. 64 protects youth from marijuana via strict bans on packaging and marketing directed at kids, as well as investment in youth drug education and treatment.
While many marijuana offenses are greatly decreased or eliminated, selling marijuana to a minor remains a felony offense. Through comprehensive regulation and public education, we can protect our children and protect our liberties.
Prop. 64 is not about protecting the current players in the emerging marijuana industry. Prop. 64 goes to great lengths to level the playing field for those disparately impacted by marijuana prohibition and the war on drugs. Under Prop 64, those with current or previous marijuana convictions will be able to have their records cleared or reduced. Adult use of marijuana will no longer be an excuse funnel people into the criminal justice system. For undocumented Americans, this means fewer opportunities for deportations and fewer broken homes.
Prop. 64 gives those with previous nonviolent drug convictions the opportunity to legally participate in the legal market. From the tax revenue of this industry, $50 million will be allocated annually for community reinvestment into those communities most harmed by current marijuana criminalization.
Prop 64 is not about marijuana. Proposition 64 is about repairing, protecting and bringing justice to our communities. From legalization and retroactive resentencing to community reinvestment and environmental protections, Prop 64 takes great steps to repair what the War on Drugs has broken. By dismantling the laws and practices that are proven failures and removing marijuana from the criminal sphere, we take a giant leap towards reparative justice for our communities.
On Election Day, we have a choice: we can keep going the way we have been and continue to see the disparities and injustices we’ve seen. Or, we can make a decision guided by integrity, compassion and, most importantly, justice.
This November 8, be on the right side of justice; vote 'yes' on Prop. 64.
Morgan Humphrey is policy associate with Drug Policy Action.