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Vote 2016 Panel educates CSULB students on ballot measures

The talk focused on marijuana and college tuition effects on Long Beach.

Xochitl Abarca, Staff Writer

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Regulating marijuana and college tuition was discussed between panelists and politically passionate students at the Vote 2016 initiative education panel, held at the Anatol Center at Cal State Long Beach Wednesday.

Associate professor of journalism and mass communication Christopher Burnett moderated the panel, which consisted of President of the California Faculty Association Long Beach Chapter and professor of classics Douglass Domingo-Forasté, as well as political science professor Justin Levitt.

“We have a lot to talk about, but most importantly, we have a lot to decide,” Burnett said.

The panelists, who focused the majority of the panel on Propositions 55 and 64, encouraged CSULB students to actively participate throughout the discussion.

“We are addicted to ballot initiatives,” Burnett said.

California has 17 ballot propositions up for vote on Tuesday.

Proposition 64 would legalize recreational marijuana use in approved dispensaries by people who are 21-years or older. It would also implement a tax on the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

Long Beach has two competing recreational marijuana initiatives – Measure MM and Measure MA – on the ballot.

Measure MM would allow marijuana dispensaries to operate in Long Beach as well as cultivation facilities and other marijuana operations in Long Beach. Additionally, it would lower taxes from 10 to 4 percent on dispensaries.

Measure MA would reduce 2 percent of taxes from medicinal marijuana dispensaries and non-retail businesses and will raise taxes on recreational businesses in city limits.

The panelists agreed that the regulation of marijuana in California would be a problem for city governments.

“The challenges are regulation,” Levitt said. “We see Colorado and Washington struggling with two very different models [of regulation].”

Levitt stated that right now California  has no successful model to follow. He said that he believes California will be creating a whole new system of regulation.

“Every state will be trying to do it a different way, I think we’ll spend the better part of the next decade hashing what the regulations are unless the federal government gets involved,” Levitt said.

Domingo-Forasté said that as long as marijuana is a federal crime, regulations will always be problematic.

“I think there’s already a fair number of congressmen who are interested in changing marijuana laws federally—at least changing it from a schedule one narcotic,” Domingo-Forasté said.

Proposition 55 is an extension of personal income tax on incomes over $250,000 was also a popular topic of discussion at the panel.

Proposition 55 is a continuation of 2012’s Proposition 33 where taxes increased for joint filers who make $500,000 or more and individual filers making $250,000 after deductions.

“The CFA, the union for faculty members has endorsed this proposition as well as the CSU’s, UC’s and ASI presidents,” Domingo-Forasté said.

Proposition 55 does not directly give money to the CSU’s – it goes to K-12 as well as community colleges. Even though money will not come directly to CSUs, Proposition 55 will free up state funds that will positively affect CSU students said  Domingo-Forasté.

Domingo-Forasté warned that if Proposition 55 doesn’t pass, California will lose between $6 and $11 billion of revenue and college tuition will go through the roof.

“California schools will lose about $4 billion” Domingo-Forasté said. “Departments will disappear if we have to take that hit—our portion for CSULB would be $24 million, that will knock off two or three colleges…we cannot handle that.”

Burnett closed the panel with words of encouragement to CSULB students before making big decisions on Tuesday.

“It is up to you to decide,” Burnett said. “We have to do the research and make wise decisions.”

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