A referendum on whether to legalize marijuana in California could pave the way for legalization across the U.S. Julie Noce reports.
Besides voting for a new president next Tuesday, constituents in California will also vote on whether to legalize marijuana. And as recent polls show Proposition 64, which would legalize the cultivation, sale and recreational use of marijuana, will likely pass. The debate on whether it should, is wide ranging. Proponents often cite financial benefits to the state if weed was taxable. Indeed, market research shows sales could hit $6.46 billion in 2020- that's more than double the sales from medical use receipts last year. Those opposing legalization say safety comes before all else. Director of the LA Police Protective League Kristi Sandoval Eckard. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOS ANGELES POLICE PROTECTIVE LEAGUE DIRECTOR KRISTI SANDOVAL ECKARD, SAYING: "...one of the reasons that the California Highway Patrol and the Auto Club of Southern California have opposed Prop. 64 because they expect that deaths behind the wheel of a car or resulting from people who use marijuana will increase and that's a problem. (cover with broll) The financial gain for the state of California should not be the priority. Public safety should be the priority, the safety of our children that this will be marketed to should be the priority of the voters on the 8th and so we're encouraging people to vote 'no' on Prop. 64." But the safety argument has two sides. Retired LAPD Deputy Police Chief Stephen Downing says it's precisely because of safety concerns that the drug should be legalized. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION MEMBER, RETIRED LAPD DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF STEPHEN DOWNING, SAYING: "It's going to free up law enforcement for public safety to spend more time paying attention to crimes against people, to crimes against property. (cover broll) So from a health and safety standpoint, people are going to know what they're buying. It's going to be regulated just like alcohol, a person has to show an identification to do it and I can't see where crime would increase." If Californian- the most populous U.S. state- does vote to legalize marijuana a massive marketplace will be created and could create a tipping point for the rest of the country.