Things to Know Proposition 64 - Legalizing Marijuana

By: Randi Swisley
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Proposition 64 asks voters if marijuana should be legalized for use by adults in California.

Today people of any age can use marijuana in California for medical purposes under state law.  Six state departments are involved in regulation and licensing of medical marijuana.  Regardless of passage or failure of Proposition 64, and regardless of medical or non-medical use, marijuana is illegal in the eyes of the federal government in all states.    So far, the U.S. government has chosen not to enforce their ban in any states.

In 1972, California’s first marijuana-related ballot measure failed.  Twenty-four years later in 1996, California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana.  Another measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana in California failed in 2010.  Today recreational marijuana use has been legal in Colorado and Washington since 2012 and in Oregon and Alaska since 2014.  In addition to California, six other states have marijuana-legalization initiatives on their ballots in November: Arkansas, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, and Nevada.

Passage of Prop 64 would reduce criminal justice costs in the 10’s of millions to $100 million annually.  Tax revenue would increase by $1 billion.

A YES vote for Proposition 64 means you want recreational marijuana to be legal in California for people over 21.  A YES vote also means you support destruction of previous criminal records of arrests or convictions of marijuana related crimes and resentencing of people currently serving marijuana-related sentences.   Details of what a YES vote means and what would happen if Prop 64 passes are outlined in the following tables.





In private homes,

In businesses licensed for use

While driving,

In public places not licensed,

Where smoking cigarettes is prohibited


Up to 1 ounce,

Up to 8 grams of hash (concentrated)

Within 600 ft of school grounds or day care centers


6 plants in private home

Area unlocked or visible from a public place

Giving Away

Less than an ounce to other adults

To minors


May completely ban use or growing,

Transportation through the city/county

Ban transportation through the city/county





New state tax on growing

Medical & non-medical

$9.25/oz for dried flowers

$2.75/oz for dried leaves

New retail excise tax

Medical and non-medical

15% of retail price

Existing state & local sales tax

Non-medical only

(medical has sales tax today)

Depends on local rate (8% is average)

Existing and future local tax

Medical and  non-medical

Discretion of local governments





Violations not involving selling

$100 fine

Drug education, counseling programs, and/or community service


Up to 4 years in jail or prison

Up to 6 months in jail and/or a $500 fine if you do not have a license


Finally a YES vote on Prop 64 means you support the allocation of funds generated from the tax revenue in the following ways.

A small percentage of the new tax revenue would be required to pay in full:

·         regulation and licensing

·        substance abuse treatment grants

·        evaluation of the effects of the measure

·        methods to determine if someone is driving impaired

·        studies on the risks of marijuana

The majority of the new tax revenue from Prop 64 would be applied as follows:

·         60% Youth Programs

·         20% Clean up environmental damage due to illegal grows

·         10% Programs to reduce driving under the influence of alcohol or any drug

·         10% Reduce potential negative impact on public health or safety

A NO vote for Prop 64 means you want no changes to current marijuana laws.

As of September 16, donations in support of Prop 64 are $18 million and donations to oppose are $707,535.  Donations to support are from Sean Parker, Drug Policy Action, New Approach, CA for Sensible Reform, and Nicolas Pritzker.  Money to oppose is from Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action, California Teamsters, CA Association of Highway Patrolmen, CA Police Chiefs Association, LA County Professional Peace Officers Association, and CA State Sheriffs’ Association.

Arguments in favor of Prop 64 are that it will bring in over a billion dollars and save tens of millions in law enforcement costs.  Supporters also say it adopts best practices from states that already have legalized marijuana use.

People opposed to Prop 64 say it would increase driving dangers and instead of legalizing an illegal drug, we should demand that our federal representatives correct the issue.