Legalized weed could spell the end of the "War on Drugs"
This is almost certainly the largest benefit about this bill. One could go on and on and on about the benefits of keeping people out of jail for victimless drug crimes, but here’s the bottom line: Legalization reverses the perverse and disproportionate incarceration trends that have stymied both individual and societal progress for the last 50 years.
Not only will prisoners immediately be eligible to petition for their release, but their cannabis-related arrest records will be either reduced, or even dropped entirely, allowing tens of thousands of people to get on with their lives.
The proposition could change employment rights
Today, there are provisions in place to protect those who have been prescribed other medications, but medical marijuana is exempt from these protections following a 2008 California Supreme Court case called Ross v. RagingWire. Section 3(r) of Prop 64 further codifies this inequity.
The section deals with employment policy and essentially approves a loss of employment rights in California regarding cannabis. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Yeah, OK, just don’t get stoned at work,” unless you work in a restaurant, or dispensary, or bar, or as a bike courier, or a creative, or if you have anxiety, or chronic pain… Wait, that sounds like an awful lot of people.
OK, so but don’t get stoned at work, right? Well, if you are a medical patient, your company can still drug-test you and fire you for testing positive. As you may or may not know, cannabinoids are fat-soluble and stick around in your system, providing false positives for up to a month. This is why the cops get all that cash to develop a better way to test for weed intoxication. If this prop passes, we’ve just gotta hope that most companies will stick to cannabis-friendly policy, or that they don’t test you.
California will still be in a tenuous situation
Even if we legalize weed, we’re still in a pretty precarious position, legally speaking. The only reason arrests and court cases haven’t gone forward for the last few years is that the federal budget that allocates funds for prosecution hasn’t been renewed. The feds can still decide that they want to come down hard on anything related to cannabis, at any time.
Hillary Clinton hasn’t really mentioned too much about federal action on this topic, though she does suggest that the feds should stay out of state business with this sort of thing. Unfortunately, Gonzales v. Raich (a 2005 Supreme Court decision that stated Congress can criminalize the production and use of homegrown cannabis even if states approve its use for medicinal purposes) set a big precedent for federal intervention.
Of course, that would take a lot of resources and time, so maybe they’ll just let us do our thing for now. At this point, only one thing is certain: smokers gon’ smoke, tokers gon’ toke, just as it’s been for centuries.