Stock photo.

Proposition 19, known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, could potentially legalize marijuana for those over 21 if passed in November.

Proposition 19 states that the “current laws of criminalizing cannabis have failed and need to be reformed.” The new law will “permit the cultivation of small amounts of cannabis for personal consumption.”

While there could be a change in California law, there’s no guarantee this change will trickle down to campus. Cal Poly is a “dry” campus — there’s no alcohol in plain sight and medicinal marijuana is also outlawed on campus.

“It will still be illegal to smoke on campus,” said Bill Watton, chief of the University Police Department (UPD). “But it’s hard to say what will happen with mere possession.”

For all intents and purposes, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. By complying with federal law, California State Universities are eligible for grants and funding from the government.

“We are a drug free workplace,” Watton said. “We comply with federal law.”

Watton said he is uncertain as to how university policies will change if the proposition passes.

“Some say that federal government will bring a lawsuit right away,” he said. “Nobody really knows how that will change things.”

Right now, the UPD deals with their two-to-three weekly marijuana calls on a case-by-case basis.

“Usually we get a call, or there’s an overwhelming smell,” Watton said. “And then we’ll usually give students a citation.”

Of the roughly 350 students who did not continue going to school after their freshman year at Cal Poly, approximately 180 of those cases are due to drugs and alcohol.

“I don’t like to see kids get tossed out,” Watton said. “Students have worked too hard to get here.”

The passing of Proposition 19, Watton said, will likely lead to an increase in marijuana-related issues on campus.

“Kids will think ‘Oh, I can’t get in trouble, so I’ll try it,’” he said. “If it passes, we will see more kids smoking.”

The law does not allow California to regulate any aspect of the cannabis economy; that issue will vary by location. Cities and counties can decide whether or not to tax marijuana, and they also have the right to choose whether or not to allow the cultivation of cannabis within city limits.

“Every other drug in the U.S. is regulated,” Watton said. “Yet marijuana is a free for all.”

Polls of voters show a tight race, but the results are all over the map. The most recent Reuter’s poll leans toward opposition, with 53 percent of voters against and 43 percent in favor of the proposition. However, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) polls 52 percent of voters in favor and 41% opposed.

Campus is just as divided on the issue.

Art and design freshman Dylan Wright said he plans on voting no on the proposition because he said he doesn’t know what’s best. Likewise, history sophomore Wyatt Oroke said he will also vote no because the psychological effects of marijuana make him nervous.

“I don’t support  alcohol or tobacco comsumption because it alters the mind, and for the same reason I don’t support the legalization of marijuana,” Oroke said.

However there are many passionate supporters on campus as well.

“Proposition 19 is a necessary step in eliminating all the myths surrounding the use of marijuana,” said Carlos Villacis, an English sophomore. “Once legal, marijuana can be properly studied by scientists, and its risks as well as benefits can be finally tested using modern methods.”

Besides eliminating some myths about its use, taxation of the plant could also have some beneficial effects for the state, said business administration freshman Brian Cahn.

“It definitely should (pass),” Cahn said. “It could boost the economy.”

According to the Yes on Proposition 19 campaign, legalizing, regulating and taxing the use and sale of marijuana could generate billions of dollars in revenue for the state.

Nevertheless, Watton urges students to read the proposition thoroughly to make an informed decision.

“The most important thing I can say is to read the law,” Watton said. “Then you can really judge appropriately.”

Associated Students Inc. (ASI) register to vote campaign is still in full swing, and students can register to vote until Oct. 18. ASI has a booth set up during the day in University Union (UU) Plaza for  voter registration.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Don’t forget that a majority of the profits garnered by the Mexican drug cartels come from the sale of marijuana. This proposition isn’t only about letting California residents smoke without fear of the DEA crashing through their living room windows but also about severely crippling the black market drug trade. If people (especially that history major) remember the 18th amendment and the ramifications it produced they would see that the same exact scenario has happened here. Enjoy some light reading:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/05/17/creating_new_soldiers_in_mexico_s_drug_war?page=0,0

    …and look what happened in Portugal when drugs were legalized.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=portugal-drug-decriminalization

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.