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Pot proposition burning topic at forum

Marijuana was a hot topic at a Thursday night forum covering the propositions on the Nov. 2 state ballot.

While members of the League of Women Votes  went over all nine initiatives, ranging from billion-dollar tax loopholes to climate change, many of the two dozen attendees at  City Council chambers wanted to know more about Proposition 19.

The measure would make marijuana use and cultivation legal in California, giving cities and counties authority to tax and regulate the business. The questions came fast and furious at Mary Dickson, one of three event moderators.

Would commercial production face the same limitation as private growers, using only 25-square-foot plots? Would the law affect the agriculture industry? Would it hamper the drug cartels now reputed to control the marijuana trade?

The respective answers were no, maybe and quite likely. Dickson pointed out several other uncertainties regarding the measure. With local governments controlling taxation and regulation, Proposition 19 might create a crazy quilt of laws in which marijuana is hard to get in one community and easily accessible in another. The biggest unanswered question is what federal authorties would do should the measure pass, given that marijuana is banned under federal law.

"We have nine propositions, this one always has the most questions," said Joan Hardie, another speaker for the League of Women Voters.

Presenter Laurie Collins discussed Proposition 23, which would suspend a law that requires California to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Proposition 23 would stop that law from going into effect until the unemployment rate in the state falls to 5.5% or below for a full year. Collins noted that the unemployment rate has stayed that low for that long only three times in the last 40 years.

The event, co-sponsored by the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women and the League of Women Voters, also examined lower profile measures, such as Proposition 24. The initiative would repeal corporate tax breaks totaling $1.3 billion that lawmakers crafted in last year's budget.

Audience members wanted to know the origins of the tax breaks, even as 400 miles away Sacramento lawmakers were cutting similar deals in an effort to end this year's budget stalemate. Collins said it would be hard to unearth exactly what happened, as budget machinations can get ugly.

"Nobody really wants to know what goes on in Sacramento," she joked.

Many people brought sample ballots or voter pamphlets to prepare to cast their ballots.

Dave Devens of Glendale said he attended because lawmakers aren't doing the right thing on their own.

"The thing that most concerns me is that our elected officials today seem unwilling to make honest decisions regarding our financial situation," said Devens.

"I wanted to make sure I know what I'm voting on, and this is helping me a lot." Alice Hamrajbaian of Glendale said.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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