Prop 19 Update

Since I wrote this post on Prop 19 a few weeks ago, Eric Holder announced that the U.S. Government will continue to “aggressively” prosecute federal drug laws related to marijuana in California. What does that mean for Prop 19?

Well first off, it means that if it passes, we should see a lot of Tea Partiers up in arms about any attempts by the Obama Administration to preempt state law. Might happen, but I’m not holding my breath.

There are concerns that Federal enforcement may hurt the state’s ability to levy local taxes, because paying the taxes would constitute admission of a federal crime. This could take away the potential revenue benefits of Prop 19.

In terms of users, federal officers could arrest people carrying less than an ounce or growing on a 5′ x 5′ plot (the legal limits established by Prop 19). But as long as Prop 19 is in effect as far as the state is concerned, it would ONLY be federal officers that would make these arrests, and there are so few DEA agents nationwide as to make any “vigorous enforcement” (Holder’s words) very difficult.

So basically, continued enforcement of federal drug laws would likely lead to few arrests for possession, but could have a significant impact on the tax revenues from marijuana sales. If you were lukewarm on the bill, and the tax money was what decided it for you, you might want to take a second look.

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