It's finally here! Recreational marijuana has been legalized in California. It took many years and overcoming multiple hurdles, but the day to rejoice has finally arrived. Snoop Dogg was among the many celebrators...
Proposition 64 now allows Californians who are 21 and older to possess, transport, buy, and use an ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes, with a 15% tax applied.
The operation was funded by billionaire George Soros and former Facebook President Sean Parker, who were able to raise nearly $16 million for the campaign.
Their efforts were a culmination of 20 years fighting America's war on drugs. Marijuana was first introduced for medical purposes in 1996, via Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420 in 2003. Almost immediately, there was an inclination it would expand to include all recreational purposes.
But Proposition 215 was met with significant criticism for poor wording and had to be clarified through California Supreme Court rulings. Governor Gray Davis established an identification card system for medical marijuana patients in 2003, as part of the Medical Marijuana Program Act.
With the issuance of medical marijuana cards, the drug became fairly widespread. By the mid 2000's, it was practically already available for recreational use. You just had to cite a medical affliction of some sorts.
In November 2010, California took a more substantial step towards making pot legal, by presenting Proposition 19 to the voters. This would have made the possession and cultivation of marijuana legal for citizens over 21, regulating it similarly to alcohol. Unfortunately, it wasn't approved.
Two years later, Colorado would be the next state to test the marijuana waters. The Colorado Amendment 64 laid out a statewide drug policy for cannabis use in the state, and it would pass on November 6, 2012, making Colorado and Washington the first states to successfully vote for legalizing weed. The vote passed with 55.3%, and the commercial sale of marijuana to the public began in 2014.
In this year's election, Proposition 64 passed with a similar success rate, 56-44%. Smoking pot in public could still warrant a $100 fine, and driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal. The measure was officially endorsed by the California Medical Association in February 2016 and was evoked into the primaries by Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
There was some opposition throughout the way, as law enforcement agencies such as the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, California Hospitals Association, and Automobile Club of Southern California have expressed opposition.
One fear was that marijuana advertising would appear on prime-time television, proving too easily marketable to younger individuals. It's a situation that will have to be negotiated as the law becomes official.
In the meantime, it's time to celebrate California! It's finally real!