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It's A Gray Area: Regulate marijuana like wine

April 09, 2011|By James P. Gray

In my public discussions about our nation's failed and hopeless policy of marijuana prohibition, I often say that Proposition 19 actually won the election last November, but we will simply be delaying implementation for two years.

I say that for two reasons. First, Proposition 19 was so successful in legitimizing the discussion about the failure of marijuana prohibition both statewide and nationwide, and even worldwide, that people for the first time have actually started to think seriously about the issue. And that is really all we need, because what we are doing today simply doesn't make sense.

Second, in some of my debates on Proposition 19, numbers of people, including several chiefs of police, stated publicly that they had no problem treating marijuana like alcohol, but they did not like some specific provisions of Proposition 19 and therefore opposed it. Many voters felt exactly the same way.

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So since November, quite a few people involved in marijuana drug law reform have been working to craft a new initiative, the Regulate Marijuana like Wine Act of 2012, and its basic provisions are as follows:

All California laws that prohibit marijuana possession, use, sales, distribution, cultivation, etc. by people who are 21 and older would be repealed, except for those pertaining to driving a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana; using or being impaired by marijuana in public or in the workplace; the use, possession, sales, etc. of marijuana by people younger than 21; providing, transferring or selling marijuana to a person younger than 21; or any laws or regulations regarding medical marijuana as set forth by Proposition 215 and its related statutes. All of those laws and regulations would expressly remain in effect.

The proposal then breaks down what we now call marijuana into two classifications. The first is marijuana with a THC or "potency" level of 3% or higher, which would be governed by regulations, taxes and fees that use the wine industry as a model. But, importantly enough, the act would not permit state, county or city governments to use their taxing, zoning or licensing authority as a means to thwart the provisions of the initiative, unless those regulations would also be applicable to the wine industry.

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