Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. According to the CDC there was an overall increase in the initiation and use of marijuana among all ages between 2002 and 2014, and significant decreases in perceived risk.
In November, with the passage of Proposition 64, California joined 21 other states who have decriminalized marijuana use, and 25 states who allow the medical use of marijuana. The new law allows, “adults age 21+ to possess, transport, purchase, consume and share up to one ounce of marijuana and eight grams of marijuana concentrates” and establishes a 15% sales tax and additional cultivation taxes based on plant weight; Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
With its passage, Proposition 64 has generated a robust discussion and debate around its impact on various health and community outcomes, including:
- Marijuana use among young people. Marijuana has been shown to have adverse effects on brain development, especially among adolescents
- Access and availability of drug treatment options for marijuana addiction
- Regulating “edibles,” food or drinks that contain marijuana
- Disproportionate arrest rates, even in states that have legalized marijuana
- Legal implications regarding labor and other relevant regulations
- The business aspect of legal marijuana use
Additional topics will include, how to regulate the density of growing sites, manufacturing sites, and retail sites and the impact on the communities we serve. While many hope that marijuana legalization will eliminate the disparate marijuana arrest rates in the state, studies show African Americans continue to encounter higher rates of marijuana arrests, even in places where marijuana is legal. Already there is some data that shows that medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles are disproportionately located in low income communities, similar to the way we have a disproportionate high density of corner markets that primarily sell alcohol or cigarettes in low income neighborhoods.
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