All Eyes on California!

The Most Progressive Legalization in U.S. History

On November 8, 2016, 57% of California voters said “YES” to Prop 64: The Adult Use of Recreational Marijuana (AUMA). As each of the 400 cities implement the many aspects of this complicated Prop, their individual policies, city ordinances, and taxes, months may go by before the confusion settles. Some cities are “live” while others are “opting out” altogether, or will “jump in” when they see how it’s playing out in other cities.

IMG_5342I interviewed the co-author of Prop 64, Lynne Lyman; the L.A. Pot Czar, Cat Packer; a number of officials, advisors, and other Cannabis Industry members as well as Zachary Leary. Overwhelmingly, they shared the same sentiment in the fact that all eyes are on California. Every day they are working fiercely to get it right.

California is moving from 20 years of non-regulated medical marijuana use, which caused many problems, to a regulated, adult recreational system. They advise us to be patient, mindful, responsible, and safe. And to always consider not only ourselves, but those around us.

“We’ve spent billions of dollars incarcerating for a substance that now under California law is not a drug. Prohibition didn’t work. It hasn’t curbed the availability or consumption of cannabis. Now we will incorporate best practices from other states that already legalized marijuana use and adhere to carefully vetted recommendations,” said Cat Packer, Executive Director (aka “Pot Czar”) of the newly established Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation.

“There are so many policy decisions touching so many aspects of our lives from public safety, to health, housing, employment, the environment, financial reparations, generating tax revenue, and lowering law enforcement costs,” she stated. “It’s extremely significant in L.A. as we’re the largest city to legalize.”

Former CA Director of Drug Policy Alliance Lynne Lyman is the co-author of Prop 64. A graduate of Harvard and fierce advocate of civil rights, Lyman has been called one of the most powerful woman in the “Weed Industry.”

So much misinformation is circling regarding the actual implementation of Prop 64, I asked Lynne to clarify a few points that people seem to have incorrect.

“We were glad that Colorado and Washington went first in 2012. We really learned from both states and that informed what we put into this initiative. DPA was part of both teams. With California, we decided to make this the most progressive and far-reaching law of legalization in history. It’s now the most progressive law on the books to date,” she explained.

“This is a much-needed regulatory law. For 20 years we had medical marijuana legal but not regulated. Many problems were caused, and when implemented, this law will serve as restoration and reparation in the criminal justice re-sentencing reform, environment, communities of color, drug education, and long overdue research in the healing properties. In California this law creates a regulatory system for the commercial distribution, cultivation, manufacturing, and sale of cannabis,” Lyman said.

But what were the “imperatives” for children, in addition to the far-reaching and much-needed reparations?

“Children under 18 years will never go to jail for a marijuana offense in California. To be clear, this law does not legalize use for minors. If a minor is engaging in any marijuana activity that’s prohibited, the punishment can be no greater than an infraction with no financial fine attached,” she explained. “This would be served through community service, drug education, and counseling if needed.”

“At age 18,” she continued, “their record will be sealed. This is huge. We put in another layer of protection for medical marijuana patients who are parents. CPS cannot take their child or limit their contact with the child if the parent has a legitimate, current medical card.”

Lyman further clarified a few myths:

  1. Consuming cannabis is more restricted than the laws of smoking. For example, it’s not allowed in public places.
  2. In studies from places where cannabis is legal, youth consumption does not go up, while the number of senior citizens does. Also, the spending for prescription drugs in senior citizens goes way down.
  3. Revenue from taxes will go to marijuana research on health benefits, and to the UC systems to study the legalization effect on aspects of medical, social, and economic impact on society.
  4. Money will be available for drug prevention, re-entry, and family reunification programs.

This bill is far-reaching – progressive, inclusive, and powerful.

“Whether you are for or against using cannabis, this bill is about civil rights,” Lyman explained. “It’s about fixing a broken system we know doesn’t work. The reparative justice aspect is for the harms of the past. Whether drugs are “good or bad” is a judgement society makes. We’ve come a long way as a society in our consciousness and our learning as a culture. Five years ago, most people didn’t even know the expression ‘criminal justice reform.’ What hasn’t caught up yet is a real change in our laws,” said Lyman.

“We need a whole transformation from the bottom to the top of the criminal justice system.  How we treat the humans who use them should be in a caring and compassionate way, not a punishing way. Legalizing marijuana is the first step, not the end of the journey. It’s the beginning of the battle,” she stated.

image (4)Zachary Leary is the producer, writer, and host of It’s All Happening with Zach Leary and THE MAPS Podcast. He is considered to be one of the most thought-provoking commentators in the cultural philosophy genre of podcasting. He is also a creator of films and CDs.

I always enjoy discussing matters of western culture and socio-sacred theories with Zach. As an enthusiastic supporter on the campaign trail for Prop 64, I asked for his perspective now that the law allows for the responsible recreational adult use of cannabis.

“This is a time of opportunity in our soul and cultural experience,” Leary started. “As the Prop 64 laws are slowly being implemented, I’m hoping for the culture of fear around this plant to lessen. I’m supportive of legitimate research into the healing properties of cannabis.”

“I’m all for setting up a government-endorsed structure that allows pot to be harvested, distributed, sold, and consumed in a way that is closer to alcohol, than anarchy,” he continued. “To make legalization work for the society regulating for safety, purity, and the legitimacy of all sales channels is imperative.”

Decriminalization and judicial reform is crucial. Putting people in prison for using a plant that has been sacredly used for thousands of years all over the world makes no moral or sociological sense to me.

Leary agreed. “The time is now to stop the “Reefer Madness,” to free thousands of inmates (for non-violent drug offenses), to put money back into the troubled communities from sales, to stop racial profiling of black and brown people because they may or may not have grass on them, and to finally allow 21-year-old adults to think for themselves by making their own decision on whether or not they can walk into a store and buy a joint,” he said. “We’ve been subjected to the fear propaganda. The new law is not perfect.  It’s a great place to start. The drug prohibition had to end in one form or another. Let’s remember that!”Capture2Zach Leary’s father, Timothy Leary, was at the forefront of research and advocated for the exploration of therapeutic drug use under controlled conditions. Zach produced a film with Gay Dillingham called Dying to Know which shows the history of that time. It includes a scene in Congress with Timothy Leary advocating for legalization with Ted Kennedy.

In his book, The Politics of Ecstasy, Timothy Leary discusses the exploration of human consciousness, neurological theory, and “The Fifth Freedom” – the right to get high, among other explorations.

It’s as relevant now as it was when it was written. Let’s consider that up until the 20th century, people were free to use all mystical substances without fear of being imprisoned.

Leary agreed. “Of course, the cannabis plant grew in the wild for more years than we’ve been here. Humans used it in sacramental ways with no problem. Sharing the rich history would give comfort and lessen the culture of fear surrounding this plant. I’m grateful to lend my voice to ending the destructive and injurious “war on drugs.” The time has come to move to a world view where our society functions in a more humane way,” he said.

Friends, we are making history and moving through unchartered territory. The roll out is an ever-changing and moving train. If we get this right here, we have a much better chance of advancing the probability of federal legalization. Prop 64 is intended to have less people in prison – not more – so let’s always err on the side of caution. I don’t personally condone or condemn the use of cannabis but incarcerating people for using a plant is unconscionable to me. Let’s put it back in the medical and ritual arenas where it lived for thousands of years.


Learn, ask, research, become aware!

Here are a number of sources for cannabis research including info regarding usage, dosing, licenses, legal limits for sales and consumption, applications, policy and city ordinances within each city, current political bills and propositions being written and filed for State and Federal vote, the roll out timing, and the implication of all new aspects of Prop 64. We’ve also included lifestyle info, blogs, books, and non-profit organizations.

WEBSITES for Community Engagement and Up-to-Date Information:

Leafly:  Considered the world’s largest cannabis information resource with educational videos, editorials, current political developments.

Prohbtd: Widely used for national updates, roll outs, and lifestyle info.

Department of Cannabis Regulation for the City of Los Angeles: (Cat Packer appointed ‘Pot Czar’ by Mayor Eric Garcetti.)  All legal info for licenses, policy, regulations.

Official Cannabis Portal for State of California: All legal info for licenses, policy regulations, and other legal clarification.

Drug Policy Alliance (DPA): New York City-based non-profit org, with the principal goal of ending the American “War on Drugs.”

Botanical Dimensions:  Motto is “Collect, Protect, Propagate, Understand.” Includes cannabis events, books, new research, history, philosophy, as well as the study of ethnobotany with Katherine Harrison M.A.


Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge. A radical history of plants, drugs, and human evolution by Terence McKenna.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.  The history of civil rights and how the “War on Drugs” affected communities of color by Michelle Alexander.

Dying to Know: An intimate documentary celebrating the epic friendship between Timothy Leary and Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) that shaped a generation. This film is filled with history, drug culture insights, experiments, and myth-busting about the study of recreational drugs. Now on Netflix.

It’s All Happening with Zach Leary and The MAPS Podcast (Host, Zach Leary). Son of Timothy Leary, Zach is one of the most thought-provoking podcasters in the field of culture and philosophy. For a deeper dive into his sociological perspective and the cultural philosophy on the legalization of cannabis, enjoy this podcast from It’s All Happening where he interviews Lynne Lyman, co-author of Prop 64 and 47.


CaptureSunny Chayes is the host of The Sunny Chayes Show airing on UBN Radio Channel 1 online on Weds at 2 pm Pacific. To watch her full interview with Lynne Lyman, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and many other episodes, visit online, on iHeart, and on iTunes.

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This article is a part of the 2018 February / March issue of Whole Life Times.