If Proposition 64 passes on November 8 and legalizes recreational marijuana, what will be the effect in California? Well, there is much speculation, ranging from fears of the large drug cartels moving into the state and setting up domestic production sites to the potential for a massive drop in their interest in marijuana and their focusing on more dangerous and higher-profit drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl.
Others worry it will increase drug-related accidents and deaths while others note that the state is likely to see both a large decrease in criminal justice costs due to marijuana arrests diminishing and a significant increase in tax revenue. The tax revenue, if it matches early projections, would be used to help prevent individuals from developing drug addictions and other issues, like repairing the damage caused by illegal marijuana growing operations in rural areas.
In states such as Colorado that have already legalized marijuana, many of the projected horror stories of harm seem to have not materialized, although there has been some movement of drugs from Colorado to other states.
One solution to reduce the potential black market for these drugs is wider legalization. If California, with its massive population, should legalize marijuana, some suggest that will be a "tipping point," and that more states will quickly follow.
It may create pressure for the federal government to change the status of marijuana from of Schedule I, which is the most dangerous class of narcotics. However, that will have to wait for a new administration, as the Obama administration has refused to alter that classification. While still Schedule I, the administration has refrained from prosecution of authorized operations in the four states that have legalized the drug.