Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation responds to my critique of Proposition 19 (cannabis legalization). He’s right that Californians who want to grow their own and not sell it would be able to if the proposition were to pass, since the Feds aren’t going to bother with tiny home pot-plots. And he agrees with me that the legalization of commercial production and sales is a bridge too far and that the feds won’t allow it.
So we largely agree on what would happen if P19 passed (which I now think it won’t): the Feds would crack down on the commercial side, leaving the state and its subdivisions bereft of the anticipated revenue, but individuals would be able to grow pot and smoke it in peace.
What Eric’s essay doesn’t deal with is the likely flourishing of illegal cultivation in California as a result; with only federal enforcement to worry about, rather that state-and-local plus federal enforcement, cannabis producers in California would face much lower costs than producers in the other 49 states. That would increase California’s market share, leading to increased federal enforcement against an activity that California’s voters had endorsed. The resulting confrontation seems like a feature to P19’s sponsors; I think it’s a bug.
But what really galls me is the attempt to bamboozle voters by offering them the illusory promise that P19 will help ease California’s budget woes. No, of course I’m not surprised that California propositions are marketed dishonestly, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.