Faded curtains blocked the afternoon heat from seeping into the apartment. Four bodies melting into the couch winced as the front door opened and sun spilled into the living room.
It was the boss.
He moved around the cluttered space with purpose — adjusted piles of paperwork, large bags of product and heaps of forgotten messes as he headed to the back of the house. The scene easily imitated a typical, disheveled college apartment and a group of friends who liked to have a little too much fun. However, it’s more than that. It’s a business — a business that sells medical marijuana.
He swung the back door open and was met face-to-face with his creation, an abundant jungle of greenery twice his height. He smirked as he meticulously grabbed a branch to show off the leaves.
“See that? See how it’s crystallized? This one’s ready to harvest.”
Nicolas Pitchon, computer science senior, owns the medical marijuana delivery service called Slo Dro Co. This upcoming election, a California proposition could change the way his business operates.
If Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, is passed, adults 21 and over will be able to possess and grow recreational marijuana. However, Pitchon and many others in the industry are opposed to the bill.
The details of the proposition have sparked controversy within the cannabis community, with concerns including taxes, bureaucratic control, local regulation and more.
The proposition would create two new taxes, one on marijuana cultivation and another on the retail price of the products. The revenue generated from the taxes would go towards the administration and enforcement of the measure as well as drug research and treatment.
In an effort to slow monopolization within the cannabis industry, the proposition wouldn’t license any large growers—those with over one acre of an outdoor farm or 22,000 feet of indoor canopy—until 2023.
“I feel like it’s a big pile of compromises,” Pitchon said. “On one hand, I’m worried about big businesses taking over the industry, but on the other hand, the tax money seems like it’d be going to the right places. When I vote ‘no,’ it’ll send them back to the drawing board.”
However, an online poll from the LA Times shows a majority of registered California voters want to legalize marijuana. Among the 1,909 respondents, 58 percent said they would vote “yes” to Prop 64. The poll was conducted September 1-8 in both English and Spanish.
Four states currently have legalized recreational cannabis: Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. In the upcoming election, five more will have the chance to follow suit: California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. In addition, four other states–Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota–will be voting to legalize medical marijuana.
Even if Proposition 64 is voted into law, things may stay the same in San Luis Obispo County.
The proposition states that a city and/or county may “enact and enforce reasonable regulations to reasonably regulate” the six-plant limit placed on individuals that grow marijuana. However, no city and/or county can completely prohibit citizens from engaging in cannabis use within a private residence that is enclosed and secure.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson is “significantly concerned with the lack of accurate information on the negative effects of legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state of Colorado, and the impacts on the younger population,” he said in a statement after attending a conference in Colorado.
In 2010, San Luis Obispo banned public smoking in indoor and outdoor public areas, as well as outdoor areas within 20 feet of indoor areas.
“The ban on smoking in public places applies to smoking anything, it’s not strictly tobacco. Prop 64 would not change the law currently in place,” San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx said.
There were 16 drug-related citations/arrests and 22 drug related judicial referrals at Cal Poly in 2015. While the University Police Department doesn’t categorize the report into different types of drugs in each case, the department reports that the vast majority of such cases involve marijuana, according to University Spokesman Matt Lazier.
Criminal sentencing will be divided into three categories: adults 21 and over, adults 18-20 years old and minors. As long as adults 21 and over follow the rules laid out — an allowance of less than one ounce of cannabis, less than eight grams of concentrate and less than six homegrown plants-there will be no criminal penalties. The only time an adult 21 and over would be fined is smoking in public or smoking anywhere where tobacco is banned.
Eighteen to twenty year olds that possess, grow or publicly smoke under the same restrictions as those 21 and older will receive a fine between $100 and $250. If they possess, grow or sell more than the restrictions in place for adults 21 and over, they will receive a $500 fine, six months in prison or both.
Minors will generally be treated with counseling, community service, or drug education under the laws set forth by Prop 64.
“The university will follow all appropriate state laws and CSU policies,” Lazier said.
Bureaucratic concerns also trouble growers. Proposition 64 includes a clause regarding California’s water shortage and how cannabis farms will affect the drought. It proposes implementing a unique identifier for each plant which can then allow government programs such as the State Water Resources Control Board to track and trace how much water is used.
In addition, it ensures the plants are only issued to identifiers in areas that have sufficient water to support them, and “if a watershed cannot support additional cultivation, no new plant identifiers will be issued for that watershed,” according to Proposition 64 legislation.
However, currently that is not the case, according to Pitchon.
“The problem with the California Valley where my farm and other farms are located, is that it’s an alkaline desert. People have been setting up farms and then bringing water in or buying from people and it’s draining the wells,” Pitchon said. “If Prop 64 passes it’d be nice to see everyone follow the rules I’ve already been following.”
Aside from conflict in the industry, some Cal Poly students are hopeful the proposition will pass.
“It doesn’t make sense that we’re wasting tax dollars imprisoning people with marijuana charges,” business administration sophomore Sierra Scolaro said. “Plus, in the prohibition era, banning alcohol just increased the illegal activity of it.”
Proposition 64 is among 16 other propositions up for vote in California on Nov. 8.