Will Revenue From Legalizing Marijuana and Passing Proposition 64 Mostly Go To Police?

Legalization Nation answers readers questions.

I’m a marijuana lover who is not voting for Proposition 64, because I heard the tax money will go to the cops, and marijuana should never have been made illegal in the first place. We should be able to plant it in street medians. Prop. 64 will only lead to more arrests of stoners, not less. What do you say?

—Patient in Sacramento

You can pick any reason you want to vote against legalization this election — but they should be valid reasons, not the results of misinformation.

Prop. 64’s tax revenue goes to covering the cost of regulating the billion-dollar cannabis industry, and what’s left over will be earmarked mostly for research, economic-development grants, mental-health care for minors, and social services. Not cops.

I think you’re getting a little confused by the fact that 20 percent of what’s left over from any cannabis-tax revenue goes to law-enforcement grants. California could eventually net an estimated $1 billion per year in cannabis-related taxes. But that doesn’t mean police get a $200 million per year raise. If and when that $1 billion comes in, it gets split up the following ways, according to the text of Prop. 64.

First, it’s deposited in a new California Marijuana Tax Fund, which will be used to cover the costs of administrating and enforcing the measure. That will consist of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Next, it would give:

$2 million per year to the UC San Diego Center for Medical Cannabis Research to study medical marijuana.

$10 million per year for eleven years for public California universities to research and evaluate the implementation and impact of Prop. 64.

$3 million annually for five years to the Department of the California Highway Patrol for developing protocols to determine whether a vehicle driver is impaired due to marijuana consumption.

$10 million, increasing each year by $10 million until settling at $50 million in 2022, for grants to local health departments and community-based nonprofits supporting “job placement, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, system navigation services, legal services to address barriers to reentry, and linkages to medical care for communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies.”

Any remaining revenue would be split three ways:

60 percent would go to youth programs, including drug education, prevention, and treatment

20 percent to prevent and alleviate environmental damage from illegal marijuana producers

20 percent for programs designed to reduce driving under the influence of marijuana and a grant program designed to reduce negative impacts on health or safety resulting from the proposition.

A huge chunk of taxes generated due to Prop. 64 will go to cops. As per the ballot language: “Drug education, prevention and treatment”— this means cops. Or “alleviating environmental damage from illegal marijuana producers” — this also means more money for cops. And the last 20 percent goes to cops. It’s all going to cops!

—Confused Patient

This is clearly not true. Read the text of the proposition. The youth funding goes to “the Department of Health Care Services for programs for youth that are designed to educate about and to prevent substance use disorders and to prevent harm from substance use.”

The environmental funds go to “Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Parks and Recreation.” I write about this all day, every day. Who are your sources?

Here’s a parting thought: If the whole thing is a giveaway to the police, why are the police donating and campaigning to defeat it? What police group in their right mind would oppose such a windfall? And why is the California American Civil Liberties Union and the California National Association for the Advancement of Colored People endorsing it?

Either you’re terribly misinformed, or you and only you have seen through to the heart of a vast conspiracy between police, civil-liberties groups, and drug-law reformers to dupe Californians into approving a bigger police state.

As for your claim that arrests will go up after legalization: Arrests dropped 85 percent after Washington, D.C., legalized marijuana. Pot arrests dipped 80 percent in Colorado, and they’ve dropped 98 percent in Washington state.

Meanwhile, about 25,000 mostly young black and brown guys get arrested each year in California for marijuana. Experts say these kids often get pulled over for traffic infractions like a broken taillight, or they get stopped at a DUI checkpoint. A huge swath of these young individuals are prosecuted, and rack up major legal costs.

If Prop. 64 fails, can we send the legal bills to your house?

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