Donald Trump’s stunning victory stole all the headlines, so you may have missed your stoner neighbor flocking west to smoke up that California legal marijuana as a result of the state’s down ballot questions.
Moreover, Californians also voted to ban plastic bags and toughen gun laws in a remarkably busy slate of polling questions. There’s a popular saying that claims California is the trendsetter in our republic: As California goes, so does the country. So will the dramatic reforms of our country’s largest state have an effect on the rest of America over time?
Recreational Use of Marijuana
California legalized recreational use of marijuana under Proposition 64 along with Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada.
The Golden State has been a trailblazer for medicinal marijuana, since they passed laws 20 years ago okaying possession for personal medical use under a California doctor’s approval. More liberal laws for medical marijuana were passed in 2014 and 2015. Now, recreational marijuana is slated to become legal, which in no way impinges on a patient’s right to medical marijuana.
Now, they won’t begin giving businesses retail licenses to sell weed right away. They have until January 2018 to develop rules. In the meantime, it’s completely illegal to buy weed, but it’s legal to possess it in small amounts. Also, you can only smoke it in your own home. These new rules on marijuana are pretty out there, so if you’re interested in all of the nitty-gritty of pot in California, the Fresno Bee has an excellent write-up on the topic.
Ban on Single-use Plastic Bags
At the same time Californians legalized a banned substance, they saw it wise to ban other things, like single-use plastic bags. This ban, also known as Proposition 67, takes effect immediately, and means that you will be paying 10 cents or more for every recycled paper bag you request at the store. In sum, many people will be bringing their own reusable bags to the Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in the Golden State.
Tougher Gun Laws
Proposition 63 passed as well, bringing tougher gun laws to a state that is already strict by most national standards. The new laws will “require the destruction or removal from the state of large-capacity ammunition magazines.” Additionally, most people will now be forced to pass background checks and get Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition.
Gavin Newsom, now Lieutenant Government and a candidate for Governor in 2018, pushed this “The Safety for All Initiative.”
California is an economic and political superpower all on its own. Consider that if the land of tinseltown and surfer dudes were its own country, it would be the sixth largest economy in the world. Politically and economically, California is extremely influential nationally and globally.
In all, California is a living laboratory of how messy democracy can be. We’ve only covered three out of many propositions that were passed, and it’s easy to see how enacting the will of the people is going to be busy work for policymakers. Good luck California, you’re going to need it.
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