A coalition of religious leaders, politicians, and healthcare officials have urged Californians to vote against a proposition legalizing marijuana for entertainment purposes, referring to it as the "most disastrous proposition of a decade".
This November, California voters, who were the first in the nation to legalize marijuana for medical use two decades ago, will now decide whether to pass California Prop 64 - Legalization of Marijuana for Entertainment Purposes.
According to The Sacramento Bee, Proposition 64 would allow adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes and to grow up to six plants at home. Consumption would be prohibited in public places, including bars, restaurants, streets, theaters and entertainment venues.
Similar measures will go before voters in four other states - Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts and Maine - on Nov. 8. Twenty-five states already allow medical marijuana.
Proponents of the bill argue that prohibition has failed and it is time to regulate marijuana like any other business, delivering a tax windfall estimated at $1 billion a year, according to the Press Democrat.
However, a coalition of faith leaders, healthcare and law enforcement officials and others have warned that if passed, Prop 64 would be "disastrous" for the Golden State.
"California would be in a satanic world plagued with drugs in the future!" reads a statement made available to The Gospel Herald. The group points out that Prop 64 allows marijuana commercials on 95% of TV shows, thus exposing children to drug use at an early age.
"This hurts our future generations seriously and represents major regression of our society. Consumption of marijuana by children will definitely increase," it warns. "In Colorado, there are even cookies and candies filled with marijuana by unscrupulous merchants. 45 years ago, tobacco commercials on TV were already stopped! Just for this clause alone, we should vote No on 64."
Some other dangers associated with Prop 64 include an increase in "drug driving" and organized crime, the group cautions, as well as an increase in the use of more dangerous drugs, as marijuana is "addictive and a gateway drug to more pernicious drugs."
"Cal Prop 64 would bring in much needed tax revenue is a lie," it adds. "We will spend much more on related legal and health problems as well as drug rehabilitation. Prop 64 also specifies that tax money from it can only be used for specific purposes such as research on marijuana but not on California General Fund; that is not for education, roads, and welfare."
Polls show the Adult Use of Marijuana Act is supported by 51 percent or more of voters. However, the coalition believes the proposition can still be stopped - if every opponent votes "no" on November 8th.
"This is a historic moment for us in California!" concludes the group. "Please continue to use every effort on this. Prop 64, if passed, would be more disastrous and terrible than you can imagine. Let us work to the end of our tether to stop the drug cartels and gangsters from ruling California!"
The coalition includes the California Police Chiefs Association, California District Attorneys Association, California Highway Patrolmen Association, California Hospitals Association, Organization for Justice and Equality, Senator Dianne Feinstein (Dem), Assemblywoman Katherine Baker (Rep), and Dr. Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute, Faith and Public Policy.