Should California voters approve Proposition 64 Tuesday it will not make it legal to sell or transport marijuana for sale in Manteca.
That’s because an ordinance adopted by the Manteca City Council earlier this year that banned cultivating marijuana for personal use under the medical marijuana guidelines bans all marijuana dispensaries and transportation of cannabis for the purpose of selling. It did not specifically limit it to medical marijuana.
The same applies to San Joaquin County and many cities throughout the 209 that adopted similar measures such as Ripon.
And language in the ballot measure legalizing recreation pot limits it to being grown indoors only. That means growing up to six personal plants as the measure allows would be illegal if they are grown outdoors.
That — along with other language or lack thereof in the measure — has Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion concerned should Proposition 64 pass.
He fully expects crime spikes mirroring those that have occurred in Washington and Colorado where recreational marijuana is already legal plus a worsening of trends that Manteca has experienced with grow houses and other related crime since the legalization of pot for medicinal purposes in California was passed in 1996.
“It (passage of Proposition 64) opens a whole can of worms,” the police chief said.
on medical marijuana
grows eased some crime
After Manteca banned medicinal pot growing and deliveries that had been legal in the city, property-related crimes dropped. People who had valid medical marijuana cards and those who didn’t but didn’t try to grow and inordinate amount of pot for personal use, often had their yards and grow areas broken into and plants stolen. One gentleman who lived in Central Manteca and was operating a co-op for friends that had medical marijuana cards but were unable to grow their own had his property broken into repeatedly. He finally pulled out what remaining plants he had and turned them into the police department concerned about his family’s safety.
Violent home-style invasions almost exclusively targeted people supposedly growing under the medicinal marijuana law including one fatal shooting. Such incidents was what prompted the police department to ask the council to ban medical marijuana grows in Manteca.
Obligacion doesn’t expect massive illegal grow houses where people rent large homes and essentially gut them to turn them into illegal pot grow houses to go away.
More than a half dozen such homes have been raided in Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy over the past 18 months. In almost every case they were supplying legal marijuana medical clubs in the Bay Area.
It may sound counter-productive financially for marijuana dispensaries to buy their weed on the black market instead of growing it. Some did for a while but that made their growing operations targets of criminals.
Backers of Proposition 64 insist such crimes will go away.
That’s contrary to what has happened in Denver.
In Colorado alone, law enforcement has reported a 400 percent increase in organized crime tied directly to drug cartels.
Ironically, it is the biggest item that swayed those on the fence about legalizing pot — the generation of more taxes.
Taxes ended up creating
more back market sales
The Center for Federal Tax Police reports:
u“Colorado collects tax revenue from marijuana sales through a 15 percent excise based tax on the average wholesale market rate; a 10 percent state tax on retail marijuana sales; a state sales tax of 2.9 percent; varied local sales taxes; and local marijuana taxes such as a 3.5 percent tax in Denver.”
That translated into about a 29 percent effective tax rate
u“Washington State collects tax revenue from marijuana sales through a 25 percent tax on producer sales to processors; a 25 percent tax on processor sales to retailers; a 25 percent tax on retailer sales to customers; a state Business & Occupation (B&O) gross receipts tax; a state sales tax of 6.5 percent; and varied local sales taxes.”
The total effective tax rate in Washington is about 44 percent or roughly $35 for 28 grams or one-eighth of an ounce of pot.
“People are buying illegal pot (in those states) because it is cheaper,” the police chief said.
The taxing structure in Colorado that is falling short of projected revenue for stepped up law enforcement and other programs backers of the legalization movement promised means the black market can sell pot at two-thirds the cost of a legal seller and still fetch the full market value.
Obligacion said if a home has six occupants 21 and older that means 36 plants would be legal. In addition he noted Manteca Police have had calls from neighbors who can see marijuana plants in next door yards that are above six feet. While not all parts of the plant can be used, the chief said a 6-foot plant produces a significant amount of pot meaning it is extremely likely six plants would produce way too much pot for personal use opening the door for illegal sales.
Concerns about increased
impaired driving incidents
Proliferation of marijuana plants in some Colorado neighborhoods have led to a number of complaints from other neighbors about the smell according to various media in the Rocky Mountain state.
Colorado and Washington have reported double-digit upticks in arrests for driving under the influence involving marijuana. The fact Proposition 64 excluded a DUI standard to keep impaired drivers off the road is why it is vehemently opposed by the California Association of Highway Patrolman. Actually, as Obligacion points out, there is no scientific research that shows what point a user exceeds safe consumption of marijuana before their reflexes and attentiveness crosses over to a point that it is unsafe to operate a vehicle.
Also a growing concern among California public safety personnel is the trend to get high potency and more use out of buds by converting them into hash oil. Home labs have been on a rise and so have explosive fires connected with them.
“People say it (legalizing marijuana) is like alcohol,” Obligacion said. “No it is not. People don’t have stills in their home.”
A broad coalition of California law enforcement, health professionals, and others that opposed Tuesday’s measure are also concerned that:
umarijuana edibles will increase signicantly which in turn creates more situations such as in Colorado where they are accidently consumed by children.
uProposition 64 allows pot advertising on TV programs where 71.6 percent of the audience is at least adults. Olympic coverage, as an example, met that threshold.
uThose convicted of felonies for being meth and heroin dealers can apply for marijuana seller’s permits.