This is an archive of a past election.
See for current information.
LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund If you appreciate our service to voters, please consider helping us with a donation.
Smart Voter
State of California November 2, 2010 Election
Proposition 19
Legalizes Marijuana Under California But Not Federal Law. Permits Local Governments to Regulate and Tax Commercial Production, Distribution, and Sale of Marijuana
State of California

Initiative Statute - Majority Approval Required

Fail: 4,634,383 / 46.5% Yes votes ...... 5,322,716 / 53.5% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Results as of Nov 30 4:33pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (24845/24845)
Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Should California legalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use of adults 21 years and older, and allow state and local governments to regulate and tax related commercial activities?

Summary Prepared by the State Attorney General:

  • Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use.
  • Permits local governments to regulate and tax commercial production, distribution, and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older.
  • Prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using in public, or smoking it while minors are present.
  • Maintains prohibitions against driving while impaired.
  • Limits employers' ability to address marijuana use to situations where job performance is actually impaired.

Fiscal Impact from the Legislative Analyst:
The fiscal effects of this measure could vary substantially depending on: (1) the extent to which the federal government continues to enforce federal marijuana laws and (2) whether the state and local governments choose to authorize, regulate, and tax various marijuana-related activities. Savings of potentially several tens of millions of dollars annually to the state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Increase in state and local government tax and fee revenues, potentially in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote on this measure means:
Individuals age 21 or older could, under state law, possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. In addition, the state and local governments could authorize, regulate, and tax commercial marijuana-related activitites under certain conditions. These activities would remain illegal under federal law.

A NO vote on this measure means:
The possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use and commercial marijuana-related activities would remain illegal under state law, unless allowed under the state's existing medical marijuana law.

Impartial Analysis from the Legislative Analyst
This is an excerpt only -- See the link at upper right for the full text of the impartial analysis.


Federal Law. Federal laws classify marijuana as an illegal substance and provide criminal penalties for various activities relating to its use. These laws are enforced by federal agencies that may act independently or in cooperation with state and local law enforcement agencies.

State Law and Proposition 215. Under current state law, the possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana generally is illegal in California. Penalties for marijuana-related activities vary depending on the offense. For example, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, while selling marijuana is a felony and may result in a prison sentence.

In November 1996, voters approved Proposition 215, which legalized the cultivation and possession of marijuana in California for medical purposes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005, however, that federal authorities could continue to prosecute California patients and providers engaged in the cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes. Despite having this authority, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in March 2009 that the current administration would not prosecute marijuana patients and providers whose actions are consistent with state medical marijuana laws.


This measure changes state law to (1) legalize the possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana for personal use by individuals age 21 or older, and (2) authorize various commercial marijuana-related activities under certain conditions. Despite these changes to state law, these marijuana-related activities would continue to be prohibited under federal law. These federal prohibitions could still be enforced by federal agencies. It is not known to what extent the federal government would continue to enforce them. Currently, no other state permits commercial marijuana-related activities for non-medical purposes.

State Legalization of Marijuana Possession and Cultivation for Personal Use

Under the measure, persons age 21 or older generally may (1) possess, process, share or transport up to one ounce of marijuana; (2) cultivate marijuana on private property in an area up to 25 square feet per private residence or parcel; (3) possess harvested and living marijuana plants cultivated in such an area; and (4) possess any items or equipment associated with the above activities. The possession and cultivation of marijuana must be solely for an individual's personal consumption and not for sale to others, and consumption of marijuana would only be permitted in a residence or other "non-public place." (One exception is that marijuana could be sold and consumed in licensed establishments, as discussed below.) The state and local governments could also authorize the possession and cultivation of larger amounts of marijuana.

State and local law enforcement agencies could not seize or destroy marijuana from persons in compliance with the measure. In addition, the measure states that no individual could be punished, fined, or discriminated against for engaging in any conduct permitted by the measure. However, it does specify that employers would retain existing rights to address consumption of marijuana that impairs an employee's job performance.

This measure sets forth some limits on marijuana possession and cultivation for personal use. For example, the smoking of marijuana in the presence of minors is not permitted. In addition, the measure would not change existing laws that prohibit driving under the influence of drugs or that prohibit possessing marijuana on the grounds of elementary, middle, and high schools. Moreover, a person age 21 or older who knowingly gave marijuana to a person age 18 through 20 could be sent to county jail for up to six months and fined up to $1,000 per offense. (The measure does not change existing criminal laws which impose penalties for adults who furnish marijuana to minors under the age of 18.)

Authorization of Commercial Marijuana Activities

The measure allows local governments to authorize, regulate, and tax various commercial marijuana-related activities. As discussed below, the state also could authorize, regulate, and tax such activities.

Regulation. The measure allows local governments to adopt ordinances and regulations regarding commercial marijuana-related activities -- including marijuana cultivation, processing, distribution, transportation, and retail sales. For example, local governments could license establishments that could sell marijuana to persons 21 and older. Local governments could regulate the location, size, hours of operation, and signs and displays of such establishments. Individuals could transport marijuana from a licensed marijuana establishment in one locality to a licensed establishment in another locality, regardless of whether any localities in between permitted the commercial production and sale of marijuana. However, the measure does not permit the transportation of marijuana between California and another state or country. An individual who was licensed to sell marijuana to others in a commercial establishment and who negligently provided marijuana to a person under 21 would be banned from owning, operating, being employed by, assisting, or entering a licensed marijuana establishment for one year. Local governments could also impose additional penalties or civil fines on certain marijuana-related activities, such as for violation of a local ordinance limiting the hours of operation of a licensed marijuana establishment.

Whether or not local governments engaged in this regulation, the state could, on a statewide basis, regulate the commercial production of marijuana. The state could also authorize the production of hemp, a type of marijuana plant that can be used to make products such as fabric and paper.

Taxation. The measure requires that licensed marijuana establishments pay all applicable federal, state, and local taxes and fees currently imposed on other similar businesses. In addition, the measure permits local governments to impose new general, excise, or transfer taxes, as well as benefit assessments and fees, on authorized marijuana-related activities. The purpose of such charges would be to raise revenue for local governments and/or to offset any costs associated with marijuana regulation. In addition, the state could impose similar charges.

Arguments Submitted to the Secretary of State

Summary of Arguments FOR Proposition 19:
COMMON SENSE CONTROL OF MARIJUANA. Stops wasting taxpayer dollars on failed marijuana prohibition. Controls and taxes marijuana like alcohol. Makes marijuana available only to adults. Adds criminal penalties for giving it to anyone under 21. Weakens drug cartels. Enforces road and workplace safety. Generates billions in revenue. Saves taxpayers money.

Summary of Arguments AGAINST Proposition 19:
Opposed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) because allows drivers to smoke marijuana until the moment they climb behind the wheel. Endangers public safety. Jeopardizes $9,400,000,000.00 in school funding, billions in federal contracts, thousands of jobs. Opposed by California's Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, Firefighters and District Attorneys. Vote "No" on 19.
Contact FOR Proposition 19:
James Rigdon
Yes on Proposition 19
1776 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 268-9701

Contact AGAINST Proposition 19:
No On Proposition 19--Public Safety First

  What is Prop 19?

Video Overview

Official Voter Information Guide

Secretary of State

Legislative Analyst's Office Additional Nonpartisan Sources

League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

  • Pros and Cons - A nonpartisan explanation of this state proposition, with supporting and opposing arguments
  • Easy Voter Guide - A brief summary of this state proposition
Public Radio California Choices Campaign Finance Data

Secretary of State

California Voter Foundation
This election is archived. Any links to sources outside of Smart Voter may no longer be active. No further links will be added to this page.
Links to sources outside of Smart Voter are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement.

California Home Page || Statewide Links || About Smart Voter || Feedback
Created: January 6, 2011 15:01 PST
Smart Voter <>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.