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Opposition to Tax Cannabis Act mounts

by Wes Messamore, published

Last month, three top Democrats in California- Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown- came out in opposition to Proposition 19, which would legalize the cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis for adult recreational purposes if it passes.

In the meantime, more opposition has continued to mount in the Golden State. Who are among its opponents?

In April, ABC News reported that "older Americans, conservatives and mothers of teenagers," were typical opponents of legalizing marijuana, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

Landlords and apartment owners

More recently, landlords and apartment owners are voicing concern over the bill to legalize cannabis, according to the Sacramento Bee:

"What's the game plan when a tenant sets aside 25 square feet in the backyard or inside the house to grow pot? Can the owner say no? Does the tenant have to ask?"

Jim Burkhouse, a Davis landlord said that he "wouldn't want tenants selling or using marijuana" on his rental properties.

Though Sacramento property manager Bruce Mills thinks that legalizing cannabis would make life easier for him and reduce his liability. Mills owns and manages 1,500 houses and duplexes and says he "can't check them all," but that if Prop 19 passes "it becomes a nonissue."

Medical marijuana dispensaries

Though it may be counter-intuitive, opposition is also rising from some of California's marijuana advocates themselves, including medical marijuana dispensaries.

Lanette Davies, who co-owns a medical marijuana dispensary with her husband, spent weeks distributing anti-Prop 19 literature at the California State Fair.

She says she's looking out for her patients, not her bottom line:

"We could literally overnight increase our business fivefold , but it is not in the best interests of the patients."

Though it's also likely that Lanette's business could fail overnight if Proposition 19 passes, and the floodgates are opened to thousands of competitors and much cheaper cannabis. Her customers could even grow the plant themselves.

When the flood of new competition and the inevitable decrease in the price of cannabis is considered, opposition from medical marijuana dispensaries- like opposition from illegal cannabis dealers- may not be so counter-intuitive after all.

Law enforcement and clergy

Most police in California are also opposed to the Tax Cannabis Act, including the California Police Chiefs Association, though there are a few exceptions, like LEAP, the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition group.

There's even a coalition of cops and clergy who are concerned that cannabis will be a gateway drug, leading to harder drugs and more crime. One of their leaders is Pastor Ron Allen of Sacramento.

He condemns the ballot iniatiative in no uncertain terms, saying that its passage "would devastate California to the fullest extent... This is the worst thing that California could ever try to do."

So who's in favor?

Other than pot enthusiasts themselves, libertarian-minded residents, and those who advocate scientific data demonstrating that marijuana may be no more harmful than alcohol or smoking, one of the initiative's most vocal supporters has been California NAACP President Alice Huffman, who says:

"In California African Americans make up 7 percent of the population, but 22 percent of the marijuana arrests. I see it as a civil rights issue because so many of our young people get their start in the criminal justice system over a joint." 



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