The initiative, sponsored by Richard Lee, who owns several marijuana businesses in Oakland, would legalize possession of up to an ounce of cannabis and cultivation of up to 25 square feet on private property for personal consumption. Beyond that, it would permit local authorities to go further: They'd be allowed to legalize commercial cultivation of larger amounts for sale to anyone over the age of 21.
So, is this a good idea? The fear of moderate proponents of legalization has always been the possibility of large corporations, like Philip Morris, getting into the marijuana business and marketing pot to heavy users. "One person smoking eight joints a day is worth more to the industry than 50 people each smoking a joint a week," says Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at UCLA. "If the cannabis industry were to expand greatly, it couldn't do so by increasing the number of casual users. It would have to create and maintain more chronic zonkers."
Lee's initiative opens that door. Philip Morris wouldn't be allowed to engage in interstate commerce of marijuana, but if, say, Humboldt County agreed to allow unlimited cultivation of cannabis, they could grow it in their own fields and sell it through licensed outlets in any other county in California that also permitted commercial sales.
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