Election 2016: Legal pot measure debated at Sacramento town hall
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Supporters and opponents of Proposition 64, called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, battled Tuesday night at a town hall forum in Sacramento.
Hosted by Capital Public Radio, the town hall featured representatives from law enforcement, journalism and the medical marijuana industry.
Richard Miadich, the author of Prop 64, touted the local control cities and counties would wield under the measure that, if passed this November, would allow recreational marijuana in California.
That local control stops at the front door of every home, said Anne Marie Schubert, district attorney of Sacramento County. People could grow up to six plants in their homes. Those grows would face no distance requirements from schools.
Local governments could regulate those grows, but they couldn’t prohibit them.
“Other than money,” Schubert questioned, “what is the good public policy?”
Panelists Tuesday fielded questions from radio hosts and the public about tax revenue and THC, but the conversation kept returning to children. Schubert questioned a restriction on advertising marijuana products to children, saying there was no complete ban despite Miadich’s protestations.
The measure states that advertising can only be placed in an area where a minimum of 71.6 percent of the audience is expected to be at least 21 years old.
Additionally, no advertising can occur on an interstate or state highway that crosses a state line, or advertise within 1,000 feet of a day care, school or youth center.
“In general, we haven’t seen that much advertising,” said Joel Warner, a Denver-based writer and former staff writer at the International Business Times, talking about his experiences in Colorado.
“But we have seen complications,” Warner added.
According to Warner, larger cannabis businesses have bought or forced smaller enterprises to shutter in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. Homeless shelters have seen an increase in guests who came to the state for marijuana-related jobs or to use.
The potency of legal pot also rankles law enforcement authorities.
Schubert claimed that Prop 64 would allow marijuana that contains up to 97 percent THC, the compound that gets people high. That claim led to another dispute among the panelists.
Kimberly Cargile, director of a Sacramento medical marijuana dispensary, said cannabis doesn’t naturally have 97 percent THC in it. Laboratory tests would determine the THC level in recreational marijuana.
Warner said he’s seen no marijuana in Colorado with 97 percent THC. However, he noted that “dabs” have become popular.
Dabs are a concentrated cannabis dose.
“It looks bad,” Warner said. “It looks like you’re free-basing marijuana.”
Lauren Michaels, legislative affairs manager for the California Police Chiefs Association, questioned if Prop 64 is the method voters want to regulate recreational marijuana.
She claimed that support for recreational pot decreases when people learn details about the measure, like someone can’t be denied a cultivation license for having a felony narcotics conviction.
‘REMOVING THE STIGMA’
Miadich countered that convictions involving children and trafficking could lead to a potential licensee being disqualified.
Miadich praised aspects of Prop 64 that call for the re-sentencing of certain defendants and the destruction of criminal records for those who qualify under the law. The measure also would allocate some tax revenue gained from legal sales toward prevention.
“I think all of those will be positive,” he said.
Schubert, again, raised the question of how AUMA would affect children. The prosecutor said she supports medical marijuana, but has issues with a lack of studies that show the long-term effects of marijuana use on future generations.
A stigma currently exists toward marijuana, one that tells children it’s a substance to avoid, Schubert said.
“We’re removing the stigma and we’re telling our kids it’s OK,” she added.
Alan Riquelmy is a staff writer with The Union newspaper, a sister paper of the Sierra Sun that serves Nevada City, Grass Valley and other communities in the Sierra Foothills.
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