Californians will vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana, and there is clear disagreement on potential impacts of Proposition 19.
A new study by the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office found legalizing marijuana could give a revenue boost to local governments, but estimating how much is difficult because of many unknown factors.
The report concludes that conflicts between federal and state laws, how cities and counties will tax and regulate pot, and the potential for more drug abusers will affect how much money would come from legalizing marijuana.
“We do try to stress that there are a lot of uncertainties,” said Paul Golaszewski, who prepared the study. “At the same time, we’re trying to be helpful to voters. If this did occur, here’s what you might expect.”
The report analyzing Proposition 19 was published July 20 as part of the voter guide issued by the Secretary of State’s Office.
Proposition 19 supporters say legalization would be a windfall for local and state treasuries, but critics argue crime and abuse would increase. They also question if there would be any positive economic effects.
The report says the ballot initiative could result in savings of several tens of millions of dollars annually to local and state governments by reducing the number of pot offenders in state prisons and county jails. It also says it would reduce the amount of money spent prosecuting marijuana-related offenses.
However, any monetary savings would likely be used on other prosecutions, or retaining offenders who would have been released early because of overcrowding.
Proposition 19 would allow those 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of pot. Residents could also grow their own crop in gardens measuring 25 square feet.
PUBLIC USE BANNED
User would be banned from public use or smoking it while minors are present. It would make it illegal to possess pot on school property or drive while under its influence.
The report says local governments would decide whether to permit and tax sales. Researchers also concluded the price of marijuana would likely decrease if the plant is made legal, making it difficult to know how much of a boon to expect.
The report concluded, however, that if a commercial pot industry is developed, the state would eventually collect hundreds of millions of dollars in additional cash.