Prop. 19 aims to legalize marijuana in California (Photo credit Associated Press)
UCLA will host a debate on Proposition 19 tonight between USC Professor Joel Hay and a criminal attorney to educate students before the Nov. 2nd election.
Proposition 19 is a measure on California’s election ballot that proposes legalizing marijuana for people over the age of 21. This would permit local governments to regulate its activity and collect related taxes.
“A lot of people misunderstand that marijuana is legal under California law but it isn’t under federal law,” said Hay, a professor of pharmaceutical policy and opponent of Prop. 19. “If you pass Prop. 19 it just makes the federal government on top of everybody.”
Hay will speak at UCLA’s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center tonight at 7:30p.m., arguing the issue with Alison Margolin, who calls herself “LA’s ‘Dopest’ Attorney.”
Hay cited Governor Schwarzenegger’s Sept. 30 bill in his defense against Proposition 19. Senate Bill 1449 is a law that makes possession of an ounce or less an infraction costing a fine of no more than $100.
“What we have right now is about as good as the state can do,” Hay said. “The argument that our cops and law enforcement are going to waste their time is not true anymore.”
Margolin believes that the cops are misusing their time making marijuana arrests.
“Legalizing marijuana will help clear our prisons and provide a revenue source for California, which could really use the money.”
Margolin, who thinks all drugs should be legalized, said it is unconstitutional for marijuana to be illegal.
“The fact that marijuana is illegal is inconsistent with our fundamental rights,” said Margolin. “It violates the first amendment.”
Proponents of Proposition 19 argue that the measure weakens drug cartels, according to the California Secretary of State’s office. But Hay is speaking to students to explain claims that he believes are misleading.
“This law enhances the cultural norms and in fact increases narcotic trafficking, as the vast majority of users are below the age of 21,” Hay said. The proposed bill only legalizes possession for those over 21.
The debate is sponsored by the Roosevelt Institute, a non-partisan student think-tank. The purpose of the debate is to educate students on both sides of the proposition.
They also hope the debate will inspire some of the excitement that has been lacking in this election. Student involvement played a huge role in the Presidential election, but has been lacking in the mid-term election, according to the Roosevelt Institute.