Center for Cognitive Liberty Drug Law Library

This is a summary, text, and arguments for and against a California ballot proposition
in 1972 that sought to decriminalize personal use and cultivation of marijuana. The proposition failed.

Proposition # 19
Title: MARIJUANA
Year: 1972
Proposition type: initiative
Popular vote: Yes: 2,753,120 (35.5%); No: 5,433,393 (66.5%)
Pass/Fail: Fail

Summary
Removes state penalties for personal use. Proposes a statute which would provide that no
person eighteen years or older shall be punished criminally or denied any right or privilege because
of his planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, processing, otherwise preparing, transporting,
possessing or using marijuana. Does not repeal existing, or limit future, legislation prohibiting
persons under the influence of marijuana from engaging in conduct that endangers others.

Text of Prop.
PROPOSED SECTION 11530.2, HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE.

SECTION 11530.2

(1) No person in the State of California 18 years of age or older shall be punished criminally, or
be denied any right or privilege, by reason or such person's planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying,
processing, otherwise preparing, transporting, or possessing marijuana for personal use, or by
reason of that use.

(2) This provision shall in no way be construed to repeal existing legislation, or limit the
enactment of future legislation, prohibiting persons under the influence of marijuana from engaging
in conduct that endangers others.

Financial impact: None.

Proponents
Joel Fort, M.D.; Public Health Specialist and Criminologist; former Consultant on Drug Abuse for the World
Health Organization
Mary Jane Fernandez; Educator
Gordon S. Brownell, J.D.; Former Member of White House Staff (1969-1970)

Opponents
H. L. Richardson; State Senator, 19th District
Dr. Harden Jones, Ph.D.; Professor of Medical Physics and Physiology; Asst. Director of Donner Laboratory,
U.C. Berkeley

Analysis
General Analysis by the Legislative Counsel

A "Yes" vote on this initiative statute is a vote to revise present California law relative to
marijuana to provide that no person in the State of California 18 years of age or older shall be
punished in any way for growing, processing, transporting, or possessing marijuana for personal use,
or for using it.

A "No" vote is a vote to reject this revision.

For further details, see below.

Detailed Analysis by the Legislative Counsel
State law now makes possession of marijuana punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony
for a first offense and as a felony for a second or subsequent offense. The planting, cultivating,
harvesting, drying, or processing of marijuana or any part thereof is punishable as a felony; and the
transporting, offering to transport, or attempting to transport marijuana is punishable as a felony.

This measure would provide that no person in this state who is 18 years of age or older shall be
punished criminally, or be denied any right or privilege, by reason of such person's planting,
cultivating, harvesting, drying, processing, otherwise preparing, transporting, or possessing
marijuana for personal use, or by reason of that use.

The measure would provide that it would not be construed as repealing existing legislation, or
limiting the enactment of future legislation, that prohibits persons under the influence of marijuana
from engaging in conduct that endangers others. An example of such legislation is present Section
23105 of the Vehicle Code, which prohibits the operation of a vehicle on a highway while under the
influence of any drug.

Any change in California law made by the measure would not affect criminal penalties prescribed
by the federal "Controlled Substances Act" with respect to the planting, cultivating, harveating,
drying, processing, or otherwise preparing, transporting, or possessing marijuana for personal use.

Cost Analysis by the Legislative Analyst
This measure repeals for persons 18 years of age or older all criminal sanctions for the planting,
cultivating, harvesting, drying, processing, otherwise preparing, transporting or possessing
marijuana for the purpose of personal use or by reason of that use.

This measure would not result in increased state or local costs. It should result in a reduction in
cost of state and local law enforcement and judicial activities relating to the personal possession
and use of marijuana. However, such cost reductions will probably not be large enough to be readily
identifiable and result in a decrease in state and local expenditures. Rather, they will be shifted to
other law enforcement and judicial activities.


Argument in Favor of Proposition 19
This proposition removes criminal penalties for the adult personal use, possession and
cultivation of marijuana. It DOES NOT LEGALIZE sale or encourage the use of marijuana. The
proposition recognizes the responsibility of government to maintain criminal penalties for activity
under the influence of marijuana which may endanger others. It permits cultivation to provide a
legitimate source for personal use so that people need not purchase marijuana illegally.

After the most complete study ever made of social and medical evidence concerning marijuana,
decriminalization has been recommended by President Nixon's Commission on Marijuana, as well as
by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the American
Medical Association Drug Committee.

These conservative authorities all agree that marijuana is not addictive, does not lead to other
drugs, does not damage the body, does not produce mental illness, crime or violence, and has no
lethal dose. While no drug -- including aspirin, alcohol and tobacco -- is harmless, the vast majority
of people who use marijuana do so without harm to themselves or society.

The central public policy question is what to do with people -- our sons and daughters -- who
engage in personal behavior that some may consider undesirable? What approach is likely to
change their behavior without destroying them in the name of saving them? Decriminalization is
the answer.

A YES vote on Proposition 19 will save California taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each
year currently wasted on the needless arrest, prosecution, and jailing of otherwise innocent and
law-abiding citizens. The present laws divert police and prosecutors from action against serious
crimes, overcrowd our courts and jails, and undermine respect for law and order.

Distortion of the dangers of marijuana leads young people to disbelieve the truth about heroin,
amphetamines, and other dangerous drugs. A rational stand on marijuana is necessary to curb drug
abuse and help restore the credibility to our drug education programs.

Marijuana is not as harmful as our two most popular drugs -- alcohol and tobacco --and there is
no justification for making criminals out of people who use any of these. The present laws are
expensive, destructive, and unsuccessful: soft on drugs and hard on people.

It's time to return to traditional American values and stop making criminals of normal people
for personal behavior. Merely reducing penalties to a misdemeanor is no solution. That still leaves
thousands of Californians faced with arrest records and harsh fines or jail terms without reduction
in enforcement costa or decrease in drug abuse.

Proposition 19 is the only alternative to legalization, or to the present system which is plagued
by corruption, hypocrisy, destruction of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, and the waste of
human and financial resources.

Help restore respect for the law, the police, and most of all, for the American ideal of the right
of all citizens to be free from unwarranted governmental interference in their personal lives. Please
vote YES on Proposition 19 to decriminalize marijuana use by those over 18.

FOR(au)
Joel Fort, M.D. |t Public Health Specialist and Criminologist; former Consultant on Drug Abuse for
the World Health Organization
FOR(au)
Mary Jane Fernandez |t Educator
FOR(au)
Gordon S. Brownell, J.D. |t Former Member of White House Staff (1969-1970)
Rebuttal

Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Proposition 19
Legalization of anything encourages its use. Penalty always acts as a deterrent to any human
action. We are a law-abiding people. Laws now serve as a successful deterrent to drug abuse by
many of our young. If we remove these laws, we are giving public approval to drug abuse. Some
governments carry death penalties for trafficking in marijuana -- the majority carry stiff penalties
up to life imprisonment (where the sentence means exactly that). The World Health Organization
states there is no justification for marijuana use. A study of 5,000 heroin addicts showed that 95%
of them started on drugs with marijuana. Other studies show the same.

Never before has a governmental agency proposed legalization of a drug prior to the time its
effects were known. Marijuana is an unpredictable drug. Backyard legalization for everyone would
compound the unpredictability.

Marijuana's harmful effects are being glossed over. John Ingersoll, Director, U. S. Department
of Justice, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, states: "Expert medical opinion recognizes
marijuana as a substance ... that has not been proved harmless by scientific research ... There are
persistent, documented reports of its dangers ... I believe people have a right to know more about
those effects before government condones its use."

We must not throw open the door legally to allow social disintegration through legal drug
abuse.

I repeat: A study of 5,000 heroin addicts showed that 95% started drug abuse with marijuana.

Vote NO on Proposition 19.
Rebuttal(au)
H. L. Richardson |t State Senator, 19th District
Rebuttal(au)
Dr. Harden Jones, Ph.D. |t Professor of Medical Physics and Physiology; Asst. Director of Donner
Laboratory, U. C. Berkeley

Argument Against Proposition 19

The active drug content in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. This chemical was
isolated in the 1940's and very little research has been done on it. THC is a psychotomimetic drug
(or a psychosis mimicker) which appears to directly affect the central nervous system. One obvious
and dangerous aspect of THC's effect is progressive loss of inhibitions; distortion of judgment;
distortion of space and time relationships; and abnormal alteration of all the senses.

Marijuana is remarkably unpredictable because no quality controls or standards are maintained,
and this would be particularly true if anyone could grow, process and use their own. Marijuana
reaction is also dependent on the mood of the user, compounding its unpredictable nature.

The hallmark of marijuana use is flight from reality and its assassination of ambition. One of
America's strengths is its ability to solve its own problems. We must meet the challenges of today
with all facilities unimpaired by the crippling effects of drug abuse.

Dr. Constandinos Miras, from the University of Athens, who has studied marijuana habitues for
more than 20 years, said: "I can recognize a chronic marijuana user from afar by the way he walks,
talks and acts. You begin to see the personality changes that typify the long-time user -- the
slowed speech, the lethargy, the lowered inhibitions, the loss of morality."

The often used argument that marijuana is no more harmful than tobacco and alcohol shows
monumental unawareness of the unpredictability of the drug, or intellectual dishonesty. The
chemistry of alcohol and tobacco is readily understood and its effects generally are predictable.

The statement that marijuana is not physically addicting is misleading. It can hook the chronic
user with the same psychological bonds caused by other dangerous drugs, psychological
dependence lasting long after the user has "kicked the habit."

Even one marijuana trip is dangerous because marijuana is the vehicle for crossing the
psychological barrier to drug abuse. Liberalization of laws on marijuana would be the green light for
even more drug abuse, compounding a problem already raging out of hand.

No civilized nation on the face of the globe permits the sale and use of marijuana by law. In
India where marijuana was formerly broadly used with no legal restriction whatsoever, it was
discovered that the drug was draining the moral fiber of the population. India is now ending the
sale and use of cannabinol drugs. Nigeria has gone full circle from open legalization to the death
penalty for sale and use of marijuana because the drug caused incredible social and political strife
in Nigerian society and it was feared that the drug would abort her national growth.

Proposition 19 would open the door to every possible act of conduct endangering others. Law
enforcement would be taxed beyond limits to cope with the problems created by the passage of
this measure. With any person legally capable of cultivating his own "weed" patch, it would be
impossible to enforce existing legislation.

I cannot too strongly urge your "NO" vote on Proposition 19.
Against(au)
H. L. Richardson |t State Senator, 19th District
Against(au)
Dr. Harden Jones, Ph.D. |t Professor of Medical Physics and Physiology; Asst. Director of Donner
Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley

Rebuttal to Argument Against Proposition 19
Enormous research has been done on marijuana beginning in 1893. Most recently it has been
exhaustively studied by President Nixon's Commission on Marijuana and similar national
commissions in Canada and England. All found marijuana not guilty and have recommended
decriminalization.

Politicians are experts primarily on getting elected, not on drugs or morality. The total failure
of our present criminal approach reflects this.

Marijuana is not a psychotomimetic. Like alcohol and sedatives, marijuana affects the nervous
system, but does not cause a total loss of inhibitions. The predictable effects of alcohol and
tobacco include one million deaths a year in America. No deaths have been reported from marijuana
use.

Psychological dependence can occur with caffeine, marijuana or television, but abuse only
exists if there is measurable damage to health or functioning.

Dr. Fort has personally studied drug use in India, Nigeria, and Greece. Millions of people there
use marijuana, as they do here, despite its illegality and with no evidence of social or health
damage. Reputable drug experts in these countries agree. Dr. Miras' study was specifically refuted
by President Nixon's Commission which found that "the Greek subjects did not evidence any
deterioration of mental or social functioning which could be attributed solely to marijuana use."

Marijuana users in America include middle-aged legislators, housewives, businessmen and
policemen. These people are not criminals and the law should recognize that reality.

Help yourself, help police, and reduce drug abuse. VOTE YES.

Rebut Against-au
Joel Fort, M.D. |t Public Health Specialist and Criminologist; former Consultant on Drug Abuse for
the World Health Organization
Rebut Against-au
Mary Jane Fernandez |t Educator
Rebut Against-au
Gordon S. Brownell, J.D. |t Former Member of White House Staff (1969-1970)