The marijuana industry has been at the forefront of Californiaâ€™s political agenda. With the upcoming November elections, the issues with Mexican drug organizations and the people involved are in the spotlight.
Los Angeles Times staff writer John Hoeffel wrote an article yesterday about Proposition 19 and the drug cartels. The article stated that the passing of Prop. 19 â€œwould do almost nothing to curtail violent Mexican drug organizations that ship the drug across the border, a finding that undermines one of the main arguments proponents have made.â€
If Prop. 19 passes, the details of how California would adjust to the legalization â€œare unclear since marijuana is still illegal under federal law,â€ according to Hoeffelâ€™s article.
The four-year campaign against the drug trades has left nearly 30,000 people dead south of the Mexican border. Hoeffel said that Mexican President Felipe Calderon stressed his opposition to Prop. 19, arguing that the United States has done too little to suppress consumption. But Calderon’s predecessor, Vicente Fox, supports the initiative and has called for legalization in Mexico as well.
David Shirk, who was interviewed by the Washington Post, is the director of the Trans-border Institute at the University of San Diego. He doubts that losing the California market would hurt the drug gangs that much.
â€œThe reality is that you would probably have to legalize consumption of marijuana throughout the United States, or in several significantly sized states, to have any kind of reverberations here in Mexico,â€ Shirk said.
Shawn is the founder and owner of Sunset Beach based marijuana cooperative Cali Genes. Walking along Pacific Coast highway no one would ever be able to identify his shop as a dispensary unless they knew exactly where to go.
â€œYou are not allowed into the shop unless you have a medicinal card,â€ Shawn said.
Shawn graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1989 with a degree in music and psychology. He has owned his small dispensary in Sunset Beach for four months.
â€œI have been in the business for 22 years,â€ Shawn said. â€œI prefer my business to be called a â€˜healing resource centerâ€™ since what we do is intellectually connect with people on the topic of marijuana.â€
In response to how society views medicinal marijuana dispensaries, Shawn said â€œI do not want to be labeled as a parasite leeching off of society. I am passionate about my close relationship with my members.â€
With all the media hype surrounding Prop. 19, Shawn is focusing more on the logistics of the law if it passes.
â€œWhoâ€™s going to distribute it? Are people going to use loopholes to get around taxation? Is it going to be sold at the local Rite Aid? What governing body will regulate and collect taxes? We donâ€™t really know which way 19 will fall so it is a bit sketchy,â€ Shawn said.
If Prop. 19 passes, Californiaâ€™s marijuana industry will drastically change.
â€œA lot of dispensaries are afraid the prop will pass and are afraid their sales will plummet,â€ Shawn said.
Although Shawn owns a marijuana shop, he is surprisingly against Prop. 19.
â€œI kind of donâ€™t want it to pass this year,â€ Shawn said.
He believes that it will do more damage than good.
â€œIt has good intentions, but there is no promise that it will work out,â€ Shawn said. â€œIt is a complete clusterfuck.â€
Shawn is planning on going into the seed growing business a bit more since the dispensary industry is changing at a rapid rate.
â€œI am a breeder. The seed business is where the profit is at,â€ Shawn said.
Paul Bouyear, 21, is a junior theater student at Orange Coast Community College. He was prescribed a medicinal marijuana card seven months ago for insomnia.
Bouyear is a strong supporter of Prop 19.
â€œVote yes on it,â€ Bouyear said. â€œLegalize marijuana.â€
Bouyear said that in general he does not receive many responses from people when they find out he has a card.
â€œPeople usually think it is smarter that I have a card instead of doing it illegally,â€ Bouyear said.
Bouyear also believes that passing Prop 19 will help with how drugs are run.
â€œIf it is legalized, then California government can begin to grow its own weed,â€ Bouyear said. â€œWe can appoint people to grow it and then those would be the only people we would have to track.â€
Bouyear feels that the government has â€œrisked so many lives because of the illegal drug organizations.â€
Jason Gorman, 20, is a junior history student at Santiago Community College.
Gorman wants to tranfer Cal State Fullerton next year. He has had a medicinal marijuana card for over a year that was originally prescribed for migraines and insomnia.
â€œI also got the card because I was ticketed for possession of cannabis,â€ Gorman said. â€œAfter settling it in court, I decided to get my card and be legal about it.â€
Gorman does not like to be considered a smoker since more often than not he vaporizes.
â€œI try to stay away from smoking so instead I vaporize,â€ Gorman said.
According to the website Weeds that Please, â€œvaporization is a technique for avoiding irritating respiratory toxins in marijuana smoke by heating cannabis to a temperature where the psychoactive ingredients evaporate without causing combustion. You inhale a mist instead of actual smoke.â€
Gormanâ€™s views on Prop. 19 are completely different than Bouyearâ€™s views.
â€œIt is not ready to be legal yet. There is no legitimate game plan,â€ Gorman said. â€œThis proposition is just too good to be true, this industry is not going to flip 180 degrees if it passes.â€
Gorman also feels that although Prop. 19 might help the economic pressure California is enduring, he wants to know will keep an eye out on marijuana regulations if the drug is legalized.
Gorman fears that the legalization of marijuana will cause major problems, especially with youth.
â€œPeople smoke because it is the thing to do in California,â€ Gorman said. â€œBut if it passes and something goes wrong, weed will be blamed for the whole incident.â€
Gorman believes Prop. 19 wonâ€™t affect the Mexican drug organizations.
â€œThey will just move away from California and go to another state,â€ Gorman said. â€œDrug running wonâ€™t stop and the movement of drugs will continue.â€
Gorman knows that if Prop. 19 passes it will have to be regulated by the government.
â€œBut what people arenâ€™t looking at are the companies that are going to come in and see this movement as a way of making a huge profit,â€ Gorman said. â€œThey are going to start ripping the public off.â€
Shawn agrees with Gorman and states that â€œcompanies as well as the government want to industrialize marijuana. When people are given an inch, they take a mile.â€