Law enforcement waits to see what impacts Prop. 64 will have on cities

Law enforcement waits to see what impacts Prop. 64 will have on cities
“Like anything else, it will take time,” says Carlsbad Police Chief Neil Gallucci of the impacts the passing of Prop. 64 might have on cities in the county. Courtesy photo

REGION — In a landslide, marijuana advocates and supporters will be legally allowed to partake in consuming the drug recreationally after Proposition 64 passed on Election Day.

However, recreational shops will not be permitted until Jan. 1, 2018, while the state organizes its regulatory practices and systems for tracking from “seed to sale.”

Officially known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the proposition, which passed with 56.5 percent of the vote, allows for adults 21 and over to posses up to six plants and users can smoke in a private home.

The new law, meanwhile, went into effect on Nov. 9, although it is too early to tell about the impacts, said Carlsbad Police Chief Neil Gallucci and Escondido Police Lt. Ed Varso.

As for enforcement, it is illegal to smoke marijuana anywhere smoking tobacco is prohibited, such as public places. Gallucci, though, said the current tactic is to enforce the law through education.

If officers encounter someone smoking in public, law enforcement will issue a warning unless it is someone who has been warned several times prior. Then CPD officers will issue citations.

“Like anything else, it will take time,” Gallucci said of the new law’s impacts.

However, Gallucci and Varso said their agencies are fully aware of the impacts, citing rising driving under the influence cases and overdoses in Colorado, which was the first state to legalize adult recreational use in 2014.

Escondido passed an ordinance banning the sales and cultivation of marijuana. The Carlsbad municipal code, meanwhile, prohibits any business violating federal law.

“Escondido passed a ban on dispensaries and that wasn’t specific to medical marijuana,” Varso added.

Gallucci said a problem in Colorado has been the high levels of concentrated THC, the chemical causing the high, has led to numerous issues for all ranges of users.

Although four more states passed recreational marijuana laws this month, the drug is still illegal under federal law.

Varso, meanwhile, said no significant issues have been reported, so far, related to the new law. The EPD, though, has been undergoing education training on the new law.

Although Prop. 64 is a massive change in the law enforcement landscape, Varso said police officers are constantly receiving updated training on other court decisions and changes to laws.

“What was illegal and no longer is and the other side of it is educating everybody on what still is illegal,” he explained. “While it is a significant change in state law, law enforcement is continuously working to understand new laws and court decisions. For us, a lot of the stuff stays the same.”

One of the big issues from supporters is generating sales tax revenue. It imposes state excise tax of 15 percent on retail sales of marijuana, state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves.

However, language in the new law is already showing a slip-up after a ruling from the Board of Equalization recently. The new law exempts medical patients with county ID cards from state sales tax as Prop. 64 did not identify when the sales tax reduction for medical patients would begin, according to The Washington Post. The board ruled it became effective on Nov. 9.

The new law will designate state agencies to license and regulate the marijuana industry. It also exempts medical marijuana from some taxation.

In addition, regulations are established for packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. Marketing and advertising marijuana directly to minors is prohibited.

The law allows for local regulation and taxation of marijuana; and authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.

Finally, minors under 21 may not possess, use, transport or cultivate marijuana.

Employers, meanwhile, retain the right to drug test or prohibit the use of marijuana.

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