Wednesday, October 26, 2016

California's quiet bid for Recreational Marijuana legalization

by Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat

If California legalization of pot passes, lives will be greatly changed as records are expunged   



California’s 2016 marijuana ballot initiative hasn’t generated much noise in the media, and that goes for inside California itself.  But there should be interest because the issue goes far beyond giving the legal right to citizens over the age of 21 to smoke pot recreationally.

Numbers

In 1996, California became the ground breaking state as the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, pursuant to California proposition 215.   The initiative did not affect federal laws.

According to Gallup, in 1996 73% of United States citizens still opposed any legalization of marijuana, or 27% supporting legalization, when the question was asked, “Do you think marijuana should become legal?”

Today, in 2016, among U.S. voters,  the percentage of support has climbed to approximately 62% when averaging polls.

In 1996, the majority of citizens were wary of legalization and suspected legalization would have a negative and dangerous impact on American society.  In the passage of time, when the daunting warnings of the opposition, did not come to realization, the number of those opposing legalization steadily decreased.  Interestingly, the number of Americans using marijuana did not have a dramatic increase. In 1996 the number was 34% and in 2015 that number was 38%.  1 in 8 adults admit to at least “trying marijuana at least once”.

The current approval rate of 60-62% is broken down per age as follows:

Age                 Percentage
Under 30         62%
30-49               61%
Over 65           31%
Impact 

The impact on the criminal justice system will have an immediate and dramatic effect.  Each year 35-50 thousand pot arrests are conducted in California, with about 15,000 of those being felonies.  Blacks and Latinos use or sell marijuana at the same rate per capita as whites.  Yet,  California’s Black and Latino marijuana arrests, are grossly disproportionate opposed to whites, at double the misdemeanor arrests and a whopping 5 times the rate in marijuana felony arrests.

Says Jolene Forman, Staff Attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance. “While many people believe that marijuana is essentially legal in California, data show us that thousands continue to be arrested annually for marijuana activities, These arrests fall disproportionately on black and Latino Californians. The only way to begin to repair these disparities is to move marijuana into a fully regulated market and to reduce or eliminate criminal prohibitions for minor marijuana activities.”

(click to enlarge)
In 2010, California Supreme Court, ruled that many of the amendments effecting the 1996 Prop 215, were illegal and were tossed out, along with the imposed limits.

Currently, the penalty for being in possession of up to 1 oz renders a 100 dollar fine. This penalty was changed in 2010 and became law in 2011.   There is no longer a “mandatory court appearance”, and does not generate a criminal record.  In essence such offenses are treated much like traffic offenses.

There is an approximate figure of ten thousand people serving time for marijuana crimes.  If prop 64 passes into law, these marijuana crime inmates can apply for an immediate release from prison.

There are important sentencing reforms in prop 64,  reforms that eliminate or at least reduce the majority of criminal marijuana offenses. Additionally, penalty reductions are immediate and retroactive.  Thousands of Californians can petition to have their sentences tossed out, or reduced and hundreds of thousands of Californians will be able to have their records expunged.

Past violators of many marijuana laws can also request and expungement of their criminal records. 

This will impact those with low level marijuana crimes, they will be free from “arrest” records being reflected on applications such as job and housing.  For those people this can be life changing.
A California Emerald Triangle pot farm

New York Times; “The Times interviewed a 43-year-old mother dogged by a pot ticket from her twenties. She handed a bong to a cop more than two decades ago, and it has disqualified her for jobs and she couldn’t volunteer at her kid’s school. Now, no one will see that conviction ever again.”

The dirty part of such expungements is the felony violators that cut deals with the D.A.. Deals, sometimes involve agreement to a lower level offense, which does not reflect the serious and true nature of the crime involved, e.g. large scale cultivation for sale.  But the overwhelming majority of offenses are low level offenses.

California may pattern its formidable task of expungement after Oregon’s program. Those with low level felonies or misdemeanor marijuana crimes can, after 10 years, expunge the record with a caveat of no re-offenses.

Whereas expungement will have a positive impact on California citizens being flagged for criminality for low level marijuana crimes, there is concern as to  how the state treats felony arrests.  Excluding repeat offenders from the program will eliminate many of those consternations.

The NYT weighs in; “Clearing a record of past convictions, even in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, remains controversial. In Colorado, prosecutors have wide latitude to oppose such applications and often do, especially in cases in which a person faced more serious felony charges, like drug manufacturing, but pleaded guilty to a lesser offense like simple possession.”

California broke the legal barrier when Medical marijuana became legal, but it will not be the state breaking the glass ceiling on the legalization of recreational use of marijuana. It was Colorado and Washington state who were the first states to legalize marijuana in the year of 2012, followed by Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. in 2014.

However, if 64 passes, California will triple the nations legal marijuana market, with its three county marijuana growing power block called the Emerald Triangle.

Known as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” (AUMA) has 60% of voter support and wide spread political support.

Five states have recreational use of marijuana on the ballot; Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada Three others; Florida, Arkansas…. and North Dakota, will decide whether to permit marijuana for medical purposes…. Montana will vote on whether to eliminate some restrictions on its existing medical marijuana law.

45 comments:

  1. i see young healthy potheads going into buy weed . i never see a sick person. but i prefer a pothead to a drunk 1000 times over

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    1. Potheads are the best all they do is eat and play videogames

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    2. And are senior level individuals at Fortune 500 companies. Stop with the nonsense,please.

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  2. I hope that law don't pass is a nuisance the smell of marihuana a loot of people is doing a lot of money with the actual law.... And obviously the crime go higher.

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    1. @5:34 the way you wrote made me believe that you're high AF...

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    2. Are...are you retarded?

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    3. Crime drops when pot gets legalized ,check the precedents.

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    4. Por should be legalized BUT it should only be allowed to be bought AND consumed in closed certified establishments. Yes the same idea as crack houses, but instead of the criminal organizations deciding where to place them the decision is made by the local goverment.

      This way innocent people (children, non-users etc) would not be exposed to the drug.

      Sale AND consumption outside of certified establihments would be prosecuted as now.

      This model could very well be applied to all drugs, allowing users to take responsibilty for their own actions (using drugs) whilst not burdening the innocent with the cost of drug consumption and removing drugs from the streets, parks and homes.

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    5. crime in California especially northern califas is going to drop because it gets legalized are you serious 10:19 you think there out there fighting because someone has better kush omg you must be high as hell aint no crime out here because of some weed street gangs are fighting over dope sales real dope sales crack H coke meth pills everyone has weed out here no one cares and obviously turfs.

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    6. 4:12 anybody that thinks "nobody cares about turf", is very sadly mistaken.
      Don't put your ass on the line and get it shot full of holes.

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    7. Nobody never said they didnt care about turf 12:21AM

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    8. From pot comes hashish,
      and from hashish comes the word "assassin".
      --people become paranoid or psychopath or just uninhibited. You weigh the risks, ok?

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  3. Excellent piece.
    Those unexposed to the Emerald Triangle ( which is now the tip of the iceberg ) have no idea how complex this issue has become. Entire communities depend on the " industry " with every type of spin off businesses supporting the infrastructure. Now, Mom and Pop's who are trying to comply with the forever changing myriad of local regulations of medicinal MJ are often in conflict with major illegal mega growers. Everything has been effected by what has become an industry, from small nurserys , local hardware stores, to car dealerships , real estate prices and banks. One of the biggest concerns is the environmental damage being done by mega growers, indoor grows, light deppers, Mtn top removal grows.............people come in and literally blaze in illegal roads , flatten ridges with heavy equipment, log, dam up every available water source and /or pump water 2000- 3000 ft uphill , draining every river, stream and spring , thus further decimating our previously salmon producing watersheds. This is also an evolution from the clearcut logging days. Now, there is a third generation of growers, some of which are wonderful tradional back to the landers , but there is a pervasive element of those who know nothing else. Kids growing up in this environment with no skills besides growing pot, not to mention the influx of " seasonal workers " that come from 4 corners of the world for the harvest season.
    I, personally , am FOR legalization and the regs that will come with that for the reasons Chivis stated above. No one , especially brown and black people should pay undo penalties because of prohibition. This is a plant that has been used for thousands of years. I say, let the chips fall where they may, when it comes to some regulatory oversight, especially environmental , not to mention taxation.
    The growers are largely AGAINST legalization, after all the whining for years about the heat and risk they have had to take and now it turns out that they actually enjoy their " guerrilla " lifestyle and don't want gov't intervention due mostly to greed. I understand that position but don't appreciate the fact that they are , in fact , not taking into consideration : their consumers , whom often live thousands of miles / in a different world than the producers.
    This does not even begin to tell the story of the rime related incidents of black market deals, cops , robbers, gangs, rippers, LEOs all over from every agency that exists on the local , state , and federal level, not to mention independent contractors, many who are military vets that can't get enough of playing war. Our communities are become increasingly, NOT decreasingly, militarized with quotas to be met to qualify for state and federal funds for law enforcement , often to the detriment of otherwise peaceful existing people and families. Convoys of LEO agencies, not to mention state and federal , including Forest Sevice, BLM, US F & W, Ca State Game Wardens and on and on and on.

    Google Earth it.

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    1. still against Fed law

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  4. Here in the San Joaquin valley, I smell plants everywhere in every neighborhood, this time of year. I just wonder what law enforcement will focus on now. Most cops I talk to now have no problem with pot and that is a very good thing

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    1. so your ok with pot ? would you be ok if your kids smoked pot ?

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    2. I don't smoke now but I have. Compared to alcohol, pot is nothing. A drunk fool is 10 times worse than a stoned one. In my opinion, let the cops go after the real dope, Meth, and heroin instead of wasting resources on pot.

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    3. What kind of question is that? Use some logic, please. Would one be OK with their child drinking alcohol? Of course not. Same would apply to Marijuana. Age limits and the same rules should apply to Marijuana.

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    4. @8:23 so they should stop selling beer and cigarettes cause your kid might try it?

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    5. Under age drinking happens all the time. Use some logic 9:29

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    6. @12:14 So because under age drinking happens should we make alcohol illegal? Your argument is ridiculous. I'd prefer my son doesn't try either when he's a teenager. But that is highly unlikely. That being the case i'd rather he use marijuana than alcohol.

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    7. only an idiot would allow a child to use weed

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    8. Weed got issued so often to kids in junior high, so quickly, all over the US, that I suspect a wide all encompassing conspiracy to hook them damn kids, it started before the 80' as reaganomics was ramping up on the shoulders of small men.

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    9. Anybody that needs pot to survive,
      deserves no pot or to survive,
      All merchants of drugs deserve to be hanged by their güebos.

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  5. Excellent report, thank you BB! Can you perhaps comment on how you believe legalization will affect the illegal market? Would rapidly decreasing volumes of weed cause the cartels a cash crunch?

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    1. Legal grifa is for the rich, that is where the money is too.
      The broke ass class will have to stick a bar of dynamite up the ass before they become legal grifa buying snobs.

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  6. honestly who cares about weed here in California? literally there's heroin, pills, meth sold in every corner in the Tenderloin and Oakland here in the Bay Area. Hard drugs are legal here weed is irrelevant. San Francisco is the junkie's paradise they come here to die.

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  7. I voted YES in 1996. When the bill did not pass, I knew politicians were corrupted!! Smoke Hard or Go Home!!

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  8. As I'm reading this post I'm burning a fat one for all the raza worldwide and realized that this ain't going anywhere, it's a movement and it can't be stopped.....
    Great article Chivis .

    From Chiraq

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    1. I came on to BB s a opponent of drug legalization of any kind, I changed my mind not only about mota but for just about all street drug. Nothing else has worked, the regulation of product and eliminating the criminality can save lives, and change lives, plus profit goes redirects to where it makes a difference ..

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    2. @ chivis: that's all well and good. But, until ALL of the corrupt police, military, politicians and judiciary are held personally accountable for their actions, it will make NO difference.

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    3. En alcohol de corn pa los callos chivis, pa las riumas, and you can smoke it too when it dries.

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  9. If nobody were making profit, they would not be chingando with the legalization crap.
    Legalize, supply for a minimal fee, no taxes, no licenses, free treatment, and then see how many greedy libertarians keep pushing for Free or Legal "medicinal" Grifa
    Legalization is not a fight for the addicts to win, it is a fight for the bitches that profit from it to win, and it will fix nothing but the enhanced recruiting of customers.
    -- I know grifa addicts are stupid, pushers too, but perfectly sane people giving in to the BS? Pulleezze...

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  10. Good,those idiots might chill stop killing eachother now.

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  11. They should keep it illegal. Only will be allowed to carry .5 of concentrates on you

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  12. Thanks chivis, great article

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  13. Nicely done Chivis, good research.

    As a New Yorker I was unaware of the impact of expungement being retroactive. I have a niece in California that in 1990, had a marijuana roach clip, but no drugs in her purse. She was 19 and she and her friends were leaving a 7-11 when two police officers waiting in a patrol car approached them asking what they bought. She showed them her gum, and the others did not hesitate, these are good kids, 3 of the 4 honors students and my niece graduated a year early and was second year university student on her way to becoming a veterinarian. The officers (illegally) asked to see inside their purses. She had the marijuana roach clip, no one had drugs. She was arrested. she pleaded guilty to having drug paraphernalia -the roach clip- she wanted it over quickly and did not want her parents to know.

    Big mistake

    She graduated from U.C Davis with honors (difficult to get into ..she was 17) but found it impossible to gain employment in her field... in the area she wanted to live it. Her record of arrest followed her. She was even denied the ability to volunteer at spca and other animal shelters because of the record. She ended up using her mathematic skills and started a bookkeeping business from her home. She was lucky to have her education, and lucky she was already 2 years into her education as she would not have made it into Daivs. But it was not what she dreamed of all her life, and her income is far less at a job that is just "ok" ((her words.

    I am sure there are way too many stories like hers. expungement for non re-offenders is a needed and compassionate side of this proposition.

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  14. Regarding the issue of expunging a conviction record, I would like people to be aware that while a conviction can be set aside [expunged], there is almost no method to seal an arrest record, except with regard to juvenile cases, and those arrest reports still remain no matter what.

    In 1993, I shared a home with several roommates while attending University. Our home was raided by a drug task force, and my roommate and I were charged with possessing hashish. His charges were dismissed and I eventually had my conviction set aside [expunged] which means I can legally state on any federal application that is never occurred.

    However, last month my former roommate crossed from the US in British Columbia, and he was handcuffed and detained for questioning for 8 hours, on BOTH sides of the border, first by Canadian immigration [Mountie detectives] and then by ICE on his return to the US.

    Even though the charges, more than 20 years old, had been dismissed, the ARREST record remains and was in the possession of Canadian and US authorities. He was questioned about issues neither of even remember clearly, specifically the presence of LSD, psilocyben mushrooms, multiple triple beam scales, and food sealing machines. He was also questioned about involvement with methamphetamine manufacture as a juvenile, even though he had never been arrested or charged with any crime.

    Nobody was ever arrested or charged for the items he was questioned about, but they are in investigation reports involving other cases or individuals, and these reports remain, and there is no method for expunging or sealing these reports.

    On a side note, I have traveled extensively since then to Asia and Latin America without any problem, and I have obtained high-level US security clearances, and this even has never been mentioned or been an issue.

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    1. as a practicing attorney in California, you are almost correct, expungement for cases like the reader from new York is an example of those that can be sealed, just as juveniles. It is not automatic, it is a legal process that may not be affordable to all and those under 18 could have always had their record sealed, not because of this law.

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    2. Great. I was arrested 3 years ago for being on meth. I have never, nor would I ever touch that. Of course, no charges were filed. I know of meth dealers who never ever get popped. I have law enforcement in my family so I know how to be respectful to law officers. I lost respect for those poorly trained rookie sherrifs though.

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  15. Where have yall been we grow fields of pot in Hanford, quincy, sanger, all yall need is permits. Capos haven't taken advantage of this get couple of kits to get certified in growing weed get your permitts to grow sell to dispensing stores, the black community cuz they smoke weed day in day out. Legally no more lost shipments at the boarders.

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  16. Never met a smart pot head. no wonder asian kids are far better in school. we are losing America one roach at a time...

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    1. The u.s. is goin to hell, legal and ilegal drugs are going to be major part if the reason .

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  17. We do not need your organically treated pot here in the Upper Midwest. We do not like smoking the "citric acid" sprayed on your weed for bugs and mold. We have better soil and better water and that creates QUALITY.

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