On February 23, 2009, Assembly Member Tom Ammiano introduced A.B. 390, California’s Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act, a sensible marijuana policy that essentially legalizes the cultivation, possession, sale and use of marijuana by adults twenty one and older; raises money to fund programs that discourage substance abuse through a substantial tax on marijuana and proposes a wholesale and retail marijuana sales regulation program similar to that of alcohol.
What are the intentions of A.B. 390?
Legalize and regulate the use of marijuana and its derivatives by adults over the age of twenty one.
Raise money to fund programs that discourage substance abuse through a substantial tax on marijuana.
Institute a regulatory system for both the wholesale and retail of marijuana.
Encourage the federal government to reconsider its position on marijuana.
What exactly does A.B. 390 propose?
Adults twenty one and older may legally use marijuana at home without facing criminal penalties.
Adults twenty one and older may legally use marijuana at the home of another, so long as a resident age twenty-one or older has consented to the use.
The possession and sale of marijuana paraphernalia would be legal for adults twenty one and older.
Adults twenty one and older may grow and possess up to 10 mature marijuana plants. (Plants grown outside may not be visible to the public.)
State and local agencies may not willfully assist federal law enforcement nor use state or local funds to enforce those federal laws that conflict with California law.
Industrial cultivation of hemp would be legal.
What would NOT change under A.B. 390?
Possession and use of marijuana would remain illegal for those under the age of twenty one.
Driving under the influence of marijuana would remain a crime.
Public consumption of marijuana would remain illegal, punishable by a $100 fine.
Employers may continue to drug test employees and terminate or deny employment to individuals because of their use of marijuana.
Marijuana possession and sales on high school and elementary school grounds would remain illegal.
What are the some of the benefits of legalization under a bill such as A.B. 390?
Decreased access to and use of marijuana by teens. Legalizing and regulating marijuana sales in a fashion similar to that of alcohol and tobacco would actually reduce teens’ access to the substance. (Regulatory programs currently in place for sales of tobacco and alcohol have actually decreased their availability to teens.) While a leakage effect still occurs, teens can access alcohol and tobacco through friends who are of age, the existence of system that requires retailers to “card” customers means marijuana is less likely to end up in the possession of underage users.
A safer product. Regulating the production and sale of marijuana and its derivatives means that the state can regulate not only the THC level of the product but users are less likely to end up with marijuana that has been tainted or laced with other illegal substances.
Financial Incentives. While public officials should never legalize a dangerous product simply for financial gain, there are numerous financial benefits that accompany legislation such as A.B. 390. Not only do the state and local agencies save millions of dollars associated with the costs of marijuana prohibition, but a net gain will result from revenue generated by taxes on marijuana. The California Board of Equalization estimates an annual tax revenue of $1.4 billion dollars from marijuana taxes. This money could fund education, health care and public safety programs.
Greater focus on public safety. The criminal justice system could refocus their efforts on those who jeopardize public safety: violent offenders, property offenders and those who drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Meridith Spencer is an adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology at Bridgewater State College and Fisher College and an advocate for public policy that is “smart on crime.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gov Tech just published an interview with California’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Mark Weatherford, in which he elaborated on some of his plans for implementing IT security across the state. In regards to security concerns for government-based social networking, he said the following:
“We’re going to jump out in front of this and get something in place that allows state employees to use social networks. It’s going to be my job to figure out how we can safely and securely implement these technologies in state agencies because in a couple of years we’re not going to have this discussion anymore. This is going to happen. We just need to make sure we’re doing it properly.”
State governments are beginning to realize that social networking is not a fad, but represent a fundamental shift in the way that citizens communicate and interact with their government. Local government and law enforcement need to have a similar attitude: “This is going to happen. We just need to make sure we’re doing it properly.”
Using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, or Web 2.0 tools like CrimeReports is the first step.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is leading the way in sex offender tracking by issuing 6,000 GPS tracking bracelets to paroled sex offenders across the state.
The tracking bracelets send GPS information to a central server every 10 minutes so that analysts can map movement and anchor points for sex offenders. The system will also alert parole officers if a sex offender’s GPS data shows a correlation between a sex offender’s location and the time and location of a recent crime.
Clearly this system cannot predict a sex offender’s movements or the likelihood that he or she will re-offend; however, with the knowledge that their movements are being tracked, sex offenders will be less likely to travel into restricted areas and less likely to re-offend. And in the event that they are involved in a crime, the tracking system will make it easier to catch and prosecute the offenders.
Retailers in Los Gatos, California, are organizing their efforts to combat an increase in shoplifting, theft, and check fraud. Local retailers are working with police and the city council to organize forums to gather and discuss the issue and solutions. In the mean time, retailers and police are opening lines of communication by creating phone trees and relaying crime reports as quickly as possible.
Just another great example of the ways that police and citizens can work together to combat and reduce crime in their community.
The Signal, a Santa Clarita Valley, California news source, just published a great article on community involvement in local police efforts and shows how a community can come together and work with law enforcement to keep a neighborhood safe.