Intersections: A monthly go-to for reliable facts and analysis about California's debt, investments and economy
stock market bull and bear

Head to Head

Conversations on Politics, Policy in the Golden State


Nate Bradley
By Nate Bradley

Californians Ready to Replace Prohibition With Safe and Legal Marijuana Policy


This November, California voters will finally have the chance to embrace common sense reform that takes a realistic approach to marijuana policy. A broad-based -- and bipartisan -- coalition of elected leaders, doctors, public health officials and environmental groups have come together to make sure that this important policy is done the right way, taking steps to protect kids and our environment and better serve our communities.

As a former police officer and deputy sheriff, I have seen firsthand the results of a failed and misguided marijuana policy. Californians know we can do better. And every public poll shows that an increasing majority of Californians want to create a safe and legal system.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which will be on the ballot in November and has already earned endorsements from groups ranging from California Medical Association to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has taken lessons learned from other states and guidance from Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom�s Blue Ribbon Commission on marijuana policy.

Proponents took the time to make sure California gets it right. This carefully crafted policy will create a blueprint that protects kids, our public lands and watersheds and ensure more equity and less misdirected resources from our criminal justice system. And it builds on the new regulatory framework for medical marijuana passed by bipartisan legislation and signed by Governor Jerry Brown last year.

AUMA will raise an estimated $1 billion to help our kids and our local communities, and create strict regulations that will protect kids, local government, law enforcement, employers and small businesses and deal a severe blow to the black market, illicit operators and cartels.

It also raises as much as $200 million for environmental protection to stop the illegal siphoning of water, dumping into our streams and rivers, and other adverse impacts of illegal marijuana gardens throughout the state.

This is comprehensive reform that regulates marijuana from seed to sale.

AUMA provides a desperately needed fix to our current patchwork system of marijuana laws. The status quo is the worst of all worlds � marijuana is widely available but it is failing to provide basic protections for kids and consumers, and depriving communities of money that could be used to boost schools, law enforcement and environmental protection.

After decades of a loosely-regulated, semi-legal system of marijuana policy, AUMA was crafted with the belief that California can, and must, do better.

Nate Bradley is the executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association. The opinions in this article are presented in the spirit of spurring discussion and reflect those of the author and not necessarily the treasurer, his office or the State of California.

John Lovell
By John Lovell

Wrong Again: Lack of Safeguards, Drought Conditions, Failing Water Supply System Make Recreational Marijuana Plan a Bad Investment


The Adult Use of Marijuana Act is ill-timed and poorly crafted. The initiative is opposed by organizations including the Teamsters, California Hospital Association and California Police Chiefs Association. Their concerns include a lack of child safeguards, loose licensing regulations that permit convicted heroin dealers to have marijuana licenses and large-scale production that will �Wal-Mart-ize� the marijuana industry in California.

Just like the similar Proposition 19 in 2010, which California voters rejected by nearly 700,000 votes, authors of this marijuana business initiative got it wrong.

But let�s remove ourselves from the public health and safety arguments and instead think about it just in its context as a crop. One particular concern with the timing of this measure is that with the promises of large-scale marijuana farming and production through California -- the state continues to face drought. According to reports from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, an individual marijuana plant consumes six to eight gallons of water per day. In short, marijuana plants are water hogs.

California is in its fifth year of severe drought, with nearly a million acres of fallowed farmland, tens of thousands of lost jobs, and ongoing water rationing for Northern California farmers, and Central and Southern California�s urban centers. Farmers and Californians feel the strain every day. While the winter rains have given rise to some optimism, the fact is, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 91% of California remains in moderate to exceptional drought. With an individual marijuana plant consuming six to eight gallons of water per day, it will only further strain water resources.

In order to meet the tax revenue promises made by proponents, marijuana production in this state will have to increase significantly. This new cash crop will require new land and new water, pulling from parched farmers and an already fragile and failing water supply system.

Regardless of your opinion on the legalization of recreational marijuana, this is a significant problem that proponents did not think about and that California is ill-equipped to handle. Recreational marijuana proponents ought to rethink the wisdom of their timing: Once again they got it wrong.

John Lovell represents Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies. The opinions in this article are presented in the spirit of spurring discussion and reflect those of the author and not necessarily the treasurer, his office or the State of California.