Most college students show strong support for Prop. 19

Prop 19::Alicia Palenyy - State Hornet

Prop 19::Alicia Palenyy – State Hornet

Mike Suechting

Many Sacramento State students and organizations have taken a position on Proposition 19, the first statewide proposition in United States history to decriminalize marijuana or any other controlled substance since 1933 when alcohol prohibition was repealed.

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office report, Proposition 19 would allow consumption of cannabis only in private residences and other non-public places, and it could not be smoked in front of minors. It would not change current laws on driving under the influence and possession of controlled substances on elementary, middle and high school grounds.

The measure, however, will prevent employers from meeting the current federal drug-free workplace rules, meaning they will not be eligible to receive government contracts larger than $100,000 or receive federal grants, according to a press release from the organization No on Prop 19.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office’s report states the ballot measure will have a significant fiscal impact.

It would reduce state and local correctional costs, and court and law enforcement costs.

New marijuana-related businesses would be established, bringing more tax revenue to the state. Furthermore, general, excise or transfer taxes, as well as benefit assessment and fees would be imposed on all authorized marijuana-related sales, according to the report.

The report also said the measure would increase the number of individuals who seek publicly funded medical services and substance abuse treatments. Because of this, many of the taxes earned from marijuana would go to such programs. It would also have a fiscal effect on drug courts and would reduce both the cost and offset the Medical Marijuana Program.

Seventy percent of college students and people between ages 18 and 34 strongly support Proposition 19, according to PollTracker.

Furthermore, a Public Policy Institute of California survey released last month showed that 52 percent of Californians support the measure, while 41 percent are against it.

The organization Yes on 19 calls the measure a “common sense control of marijuana” for several reasons.

“I’m voting yes,” said senior Karen Castaneda. “I just think it will help the economy because everybody smokes it anyways. Why not legalize it and make money off of it?”

According to Yes on 19’s website, millions of dollars in taxpayer revenue are being used to enforce a failed prohibition and is wasted on targeting non-violent offenders, while $14 billion in annual marijuana sales goes untaxed.

The organization argues that marijuana is easier for children to get than alcohol, “because dealers don’t require an ID,” according to its website.

Yes on 19 also believes that marijuana should be treated much like alcohol. Only persons age 21 and older should possess cannabis, and it should only be consumed at home or licensed establishments.

The opposing organization, No on Prop 19, calls the proposition “a jumbled, legal nightmare.”

According to No on Prop 19, the proposition would force employers to allow their employees to smoke marijuana at work because it prohibits the denial of privileges and rights. It would also keep employers from taking disciplinary actions on employees for using marijuana unless their productivity was affected.

The organization also argues the driving-under-the-influence portion of the law does not have concrete standards. People are allowed to grow marijuana in their front or back yards without restrictions on how close they are to police stations, courthouses, jails, hospitals or schools.

“I am firmly against Prop 19 because I believe Prop 19 is, in the long run, going to slow down productivity,” said senior psychology major Kyle Silver.

The measure also has no unified regulatory standard; instead independent towns, cities and counties would individually regulate marijuana, according to No on Prop 19.

John Ryan, president of the Sac State chapter of the College Democrats, said his organization technically has not endorsed any propositions, but was part of the coalition that supported Proposition 19.

“We empathetically feel that there are far more important issues than this,” Ryan said. “Gay rights and student fees are far more important than pot.”

Ryan said the College Democrats feel the illegality of the use of marijuana disproportionately targets minorities. He also said there has been an aggressive growth in violent trafficking of the substance.

“At the end of the day a joint is not any more dangerous than a bottle of tequila. It’s not the 1950s anymore; let’s grow up,” Ryan said.

Sac State’s College Republicans do not have an official position on the measure because propositions are intended to be nonpartisan, said Matt Rowan, president of the organization.

“Some Republicans call for minimal government intervention and therefore may vote yes while many appreciate the party’s devotion to family values and therefore may vote no,” Rowan said.

Frazier McGinn, president of Student’s for Liberty, said the organization does not have an official stance on Proposition 19. McGinn said they believe marijuana should be legal, but should not be taxed.

“People are allowed to put in their body whatever they want. That is part of the constitution,” McGinn said. “If I want pie, if I want pot, if I want to chug bleach and kill myself I have every right to do that whereas we see the legitimate role of taxes as only being there to pay for legitimate government services and to us those are military, police and courts.”

Mike Suechting can be reached at [email protected].