Prop 19: Will California Voters Legalize Weed, Or Will Their Mellows Be Harshed?

Midterm elections are coming up and I bet 65% of you are not registered to vote. Unless you live in California, as so many homosexuals do, and are a Democrat, as so many homosexuals are, in which case you are significantly more likely to have registered to vote because you have strong feelings about THE WEED LAW otherwise known as Proposition 19 a.k.a the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.” The race is neck-and-neck with polls revealing that Californians are more or less equally divided on the issue.

Here’s what Proposition 19 is:

Proposition 19, also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, is a California ballot proposition which is on the November 2, 2010 California statewide ballot as an initiated state statute. It would take effect the day after the election.

Proposition 19, if approved by voters, will legalize various marijuana-related activities, allow local governments to regulate these activities, permit local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorize various criminal and civil penalties.Proposition 19 was certified for the November statewide ballot on March 24, 2010.The official proponents of the measure are Richard Lee and Jeffrey Wayne Jones. Tax Cannabis 2010 is the official advocacy group for the initiative.

Just like the drink, under state law, 21-and-uppers will be allowed to possess, cultivate or transport up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use, and local governments would be welcome to regulate/tax pot sales. You’re still not allowed to bring pot brownies to the elementary school playground or drive while totally fucked up or smoke in front of impressionable children, but hopefully you people can handle yourselves where that’s regarded.

Due to Proposition 215, which passed in 1996, medicinal marijuana is already legal in California and weed dispensaries dot the Hollywood highways like so many Walgreen’s. Prescription holders can obtain their anxiety/pain relief in multiple formats including lollipops, Purple Kush and banana bread. For those without health insurance, it’s sometimes slightly more difficult to get the necessary “recommendation” (not “prescription,” as that opposes federal law), but still possible because of specialized clinics. It’s legal for medicinal purposes in 12 states now, although the conditions that qualify for treatment with marijuana vary from state to state.

Everything that Prop 19 seeks to do is already banned under the federal Controlled Substances Act. According to federal law, in the United States, you cannot legally possess marijuana. You cannot cultivate marijuana. You cannot sell marijuana. Anywhere. And when federal laws conflict with state or local laws, the federal laws always win.

So how can California do this? Well, with medical marijuana at least, the federal government has essentially decided to look the other way. Last year, the Department of Justice changed their enforcement policies, recognizing that they had more important things to do than prosecute people who use or provide marijuana in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

But the federal government has clearly indicated that they will not take the same approach if Proposition 19 passes. Attorney General Eric Holder has promised that the Department of Justice will vigorously enforce existing federal laws forbidding people from growing, selling or possessing marijuana. So if this law takes effect in California, things might not be so easy for non-medical smokers.

There are a lot of myths about marijuana floating around out there — like that it’s highly addictive or a gateway drug or as bad for your lungs as tobacco — but obviously there are downsides to excessive marijuana use, like apathy.

The Benefits (visit Yes on Prop 19)

– Californians buy about $1.4 billion in weed a year. California is broke. Therefore California needs the $1.4 billion annual boost it’d get from legalizing weed to fund jobs, healthcare, public safety, parks, roads, transportation and seemingly a variety of lovely services that seem twice as bright when you’re high.

– Prop 19 would potentially decrease the influence of drug cartels, which get 60% of their funds from the U.S. illegal weed market and were responsible for the murders of 6,290 civilians in Mexico in 2008 alone. (The vote is being closely watched in Mexico)

– 80% of the people in jail are non-violent drug offenders. 60,000 marijuana arrests are made in California each year; therefore, legalizing weed would save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars annually, and clear out the jail cells for scarier criminals.

– Controlling cannabis in the same manner as alcohol would save the children, because right now it’s often easier for teenagers to get weed than alcohol.

The Drawbacks:

“Proposition 19 is so poorly thought out, badly crafted and replete with loopholes and contradictions that it offers an unstable platform on which to base such a weighty conversation.” Los Angeles Times

–  California’s 478 cities and 58 counties will be able to make their own local regulations, which means different laws from county to county, which would be super confusing.

– It’s hard to determine what “under the influence” means w/r/t driving and working and operating light-rail trains. And although you can’t smoke while driving, you can smoke right before driving. And if you’ve ever been in a car with a high 16-year-old boy who thinks his arm is detaching from his shoulder-socket, you might not be so inclined to smoke and drive.

– There could be a loophole through which local distributors could avoid paying those dearly-needed taxes because pot isn’t legal under federal law.

Supporters include Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elder, The National Black Police Association, a group of moms in Hollywood who want tax dollars spent on education, Sean Parker (co-founder of Napster and Facebook), the ACLU of Northern California, The California NAACP, former San Jose police chief Joe MacNamara and the United States Libertarian Party.

Gay supporters include the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, CREDO Action and The LA Gay & Lesbian Center

Antis include The San Francisco Chronicle, Arnold Schwarzaanger (who decriminalized weed last week, idk), Meg Whitman (who is evil), Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Gavin Newsom (San Francisco mayor who legalized gay marriage there), D.A.R.E and The Los Angeles Times.

Gay antis include William Rodriguez-Kennedy, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of San Diego (he says his people are divided but ultimately they consent to side with the Republicans against this issue), openly lesbian Democrat State Senator Christine Kehoe and openly lesbian San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumani.

Furthermore, there have been some interesting things happening w/r/t Conde Nast’s willingness to accept anti-gay ads but not “Yes on 19” ads.

In conclusion, this is a complicated issue and, as new residents of the fine state of California, we are slightly concerned that this could be like turning 21 all over again, except with more sandwiches and less beer. As radical socialist leftist lesbian angryfaces, however, we have to side with “Yes” because why the hell is it illegal, that’s dumb. Tequila should be illegal because nothing good ever happens when you drink too much tequila, you know? Have you ever had raspberries with peanut butter cups in the same bite? Seriously, it’s good.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3179 articles for us.


  1. What’s funny is that even my ultra-conservative republican grandmother is voting for legalization, along with my republican uncle. I just hope that it does get legalized cause it’d make visiting the lovely state of California just that much more awesome. And also, if it’s passed, maybe, just maybe, by Thanksgiving (since I’ll be in LA for it) it’ll be available and I can go smoke with my folks.

  2. I’m for legalization; however, I am also majorly concerned about how it’s drafted. What to do … =\

  3. This may be polling around 50/50 but I get the feeling from it is going to pass by a wide margin.

    Sort of the reverse of “The Bradley Effect”, where everyone publicly polled supported the black candidate but in private voted against him.

    In public polls, I believe people are less inclined to support something (currently) illegal, than they are when they get behind the curtain and actually cast their vote, just as in public no one is a racist, but in private I think we all know that to be false.

  4. If Prop 19 survives, I believe that is the duty of California citizens to to have an participate in an honorary all-state smokeout/fundraiser. I mean.. wouldn’t that be the most patriotic thing to do?

    Pass me that joint. We’ll jump-start our own economy, thank you.

  5. I think it should be legalized because let’s face it, not much else can save California. However, I go to school in Humboldt County which as a lot of people know, is famous for growing. No one in Humboldt wants it to be legalized because they’re scared it could hurt the local growing ops if growing was moved further south to the valley where it could be done cheaply in large scale. So with that in mind I’m not really sure how I feel about the details of the issue. The town where my school is (Arcata) is as nice as it is only because of the marijuana money. Without it, it’d just be another forgotten, ailing former lumber town on the northern coast.

    • @Sarah: I think there is room for both…similar to the production of wine (or organic produce for that matter)…small scale independant wineries thrive because of the quality of their product. Discriminating drinkers don’t drink $2 Chuck…one can assume that discriminating smokers also wouldn’t touch nasty brown schwag. I, for one, would like the opportunity to know where my weed comes from, who grows it, and if I find something I like, have the ability to purchase it again (and again). Unlike the vagueries and lack of dependability of the illegal market. I would think that your experienced dedicated growers would produce a higher quality product than the central valley and therefore would thrive if 19 were to pass. Also, I have heard that if it passes…the focus of the large-scale growers would likely be on industrial hemp…much more money to be pulled by cornering that market.

  6. “And if you’ve ever been in a car with a high 16-year-old boy who thinks his arm is detaching from his shoulder-socket, you might not be so inclined to smoke and drive.”

    HAHAHAHA!!!! That’s hella funny! For many years I was under the impression that I was actually a better driver while I was high (my old car’s upholstery would disagree).

    Isn’t it fun to pretend that everyone who supports this is a total pothead? I support it even though I quit smoking a few years ago because my girlfriend hated/hates it.

    Also, I believe weed is addictive. I was definitely addicted. It has been four years since I’ve smoked regularly/all day every day, but I still think about it every single day and dream about it at least twice a week. It wasn’t easy to quit, that’s for sure. I think what I miss isn’t being high (because I don’t think I even got high after a certain point), but the process. The process of preparation, of packing a bowl or rolling a joint. Weed was such an ice breaker. I mean, if I was ever with a group of friends and that neverending question of “what should we do?” came up, there was always an answer… “smoke, of course.” Although we were most likely already smoking when the question arose, so we probably just smoked some more.

    Even after this long I haven’t had the heart to get rid of my pipes because they’re pretty and they have too many good memories tied to them. And what if I need them one day? One day when prop 19 passes… hopefully.

  7. First of all, I’d like to take this opportunity to officially welcome whichever members of Team Autostraddle just moved to Cali to our great state. Bienvenido!

    On to the pot law…well I don’t personally smoke, but every single one of my 6 roommates do, every day, several times a day, so much so that the house has a constant weed scent that is actually very aromatic and much better for our lungs than incense. My roommates are also all highly educated professionals who hold down jobs in clinical psychology and network television, to name a few. My girlfriend smoked weed for YEARS and now she’s gonna go to law school, as are many of the pot-smoking people I went to college with. I’ve seen alcohol and other legal drugs like adderall and oxycotin wreak MUCH more havoc on my peers than weed. It just simply is not a dangerous drug psychologically or physiologically–as you pointed out, its only dangers come from the illegal aspects of it, like drug cartels and really young teens getting their hands on it.

    Even my mom who thinks that more than one glass of wine is “heavy drinking” is all for the legalization of marijuana. It’s about time CA, so I hope our state doesn’t embarrass us again like it did w/r/t Prop 8.

  8. i’m for legalization even though i don’t smoke nor would i start if it became legal. pretty much for the same reason i don’t drink whiskey. messy.

    honestly, right now i support anything that might chill people out. maybe they’ll be less scared of the gay agenda/abortions/evolution/perceived threat of terrorism/big government/insert-irrational-tea-party-cause-here.

    one love?!.

  9. Here in Denver, Colorado we legalized mj years ago. The cops immediately said, “Well, we’ll just bust folks under state/federal law, just so you know.” Interesting discussions ensued, in which city council would remind them, “Dudes, you work for the citizens of the city, and this is what they’ve decided.” Cops said, “We don’t care.” Shocking. I was shocked.

    Of course, now we have marijuana dispensaries on every corner, and it apparently is helping prop up the municipal budget. One of the dispensaries down the block from me hires musicians to play out on the sidewalk in front of the store and since I’m in favor of live music on every corner and at all times of the day, I say that “The Burnzwell Pharmacy” is a good neighbor to me.

  10. I’ve never smoked, but if this passed I’d probably try it. I just don’t like breaking the law. Another benefit is that currently drug enforcement is really disproportionate across color lines, so passing this would give our police and court system less opportunities to be racist.

    Additionally, as a born and raised Californian, it is SO AMAZING to hear Riese referring to herself as a resident of this fair state. Everyone should move here. The Bay Area is awesome. Come.

  11. i hoped this passed but i’ve changed my mind. theres three stoned guys sitting in the library debating loudly whether or not walt disney was a nazi and i’m trying to read gulliver’s tales. is there a condition in that law that says you’re only allowed to smoke at home? because if not, i hope this fucking fails.

    • yeah i think they need ordinances that prevent stoned people from speaking while riding public transportation.

    • Yes, there is a provision in Prop 19 that says you can only smoke at home. Smoking in public is not allowed – And certainly not at the library. :-)

      I hope you vote! I’m voting yes.

    • Read the part where Gulliver sees the academy of Lagado. It is a place where people are employed in pointless debates and endeavors, and it suits your situation.

  12. So what’s the deal with Venice Beach? I visited L.A. for the first time this past January and it seemed like there were some shady dealings going on there.

    • Yeah, it’s really easy to get a med card down there. I don’t know the specifics but whenever I go down there it’s like walking through a cloud. A big, wonderful cloud.


    also: yeah i think they need ordinances that prevent stoned people from speaking while riding public transportation.


  14. not registered to vote? What is this madness. I registered on my birthday, and felt pretty damn proud doing it.
    But then I’m actively planning on BEING in politics so maybe that’s just me, but how can you not be registered to vote? It’s like…like being at the dentist’s when you’re a little kid, and then on your way out he offers you some minty floss and you say ‘no thanks, I’d like an ice cream sundae’ – it’s destructive! Your political ideals/teeth will thank you for it.

  15. Egads, one of the arguments I’ve been reading against Prop 19 that’s been irritating the holy fuck out of me is this: people who support legalization won’t support this because it’s “imperfect.”


    Look, I live in Indiana. This law will not directly benefit me or my nagging dislike for the “process” of having to acquire a bag, which is my second least-favorite thing in the world to do after going to the gas station (it’s not that I’m too poor to buy gas, really, I’m not. It’s just like a massive chore in my mind for some reason). Now, if I could go to the gas station and buy weed…

    Anyway, what I’m saying is that the rest of the country doesn’t give a good goddamn if your fucking Prop 19 is imperfect. ALL that matters out here in the sticks is the outcome. If it fails, even by a slim margin like Prop 8 barely succeeded, all that’s going to be seen is that those pesky liberals got put in their places once again! Look, I’m not even a liberal – more like a libertarian – but I want to punch anyone and everyone who is going to gloat over a loss in the taint. That’s right, I will crouch down (my knees will not like it, btw), and uppercut the hell out of anyone perianal region if y’all don’t buck up on this shit.

    Come on, man, take one for the team. I promise I’ll give the whole state a reach-around…or else it’s taint punches for everyone, and I have very needle-like knuckles that are sort of sharp and pointy.

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