The enforcement regarding the use of marijuana and the sales of marijuana in California, would best be defined as a strategic ambiguity style of communicating. This is because we had very unclear laws regarding the usage of it throughout the years. Although California did not legalize it until 1.1.18, the enforcement of marijuana usage and punishment regarding it has diminished a lot over the years, creating an attitude that it was acceptable. Leaving people to interpret their own opinion if marijuana is good or bad.
However, I am against the use the communication style of strategic ambiguity for the legalization of marijuana. Because this style of communication has been used for many years regarding marijuana usage it complicated the interpretation of the laws to citizens and business, it allowed for a harmful enforcement of the laws surrounding marijuana usage, and it now has created a situation where state laws do not share the same attitude as federal law regarding the legalization of it. This has now created consequences in which we are currently dealing with now. One of the consequences in the government using a strategic ambiguity style of communication regarding marijuana, is that it led the enforcement of marijuana being carried out with racial bias. Even after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signing the Senate Bill #1449 in 2010, which downgraded the possession of marijuana up to an ounce from a misdemeanor offence; Blacks and Latino California residence were arrested at a significantly higher rate. A report done by the Drug Policy Alliance showed that in California between 2006 and 2015, there were 465,873 people arrested of a felony or misdemeanor offence related to marijuana. The number of arrest dropped a little over 85% after 2010, but it still averaged about 14,000 arrests, this number went down to about 8,800 in 2015. However, the use of marijuana between blacks, Latinos, and whites are similar blacks and Latinos are more likely to be arrested for a marijuana law violation.
In fact, blacks for twice as likely than whites to be arrested for a marijuana misdemeanor in California and nearly five times more likely for a felony. While Latinos are 45% more likely than whites for a misdemeanor offence, and 26% more likely for a felony. This informs us that the laws regarding the enforcement of marijuana aren’t being enforced equally towards every group of individuals. This biases towards the enforcement of marijuana creates negative consequence regarding the use of strategic ambiguity such as resentment for the unfair enforcement of marijuana. Another reason consequence regarding the legalization of marijuana is the fact that over the years California have been gradually creating laws to minimize the enforcement of marijuana use and punishments. This creates a harmful interpretation of the policies regarding marijuana use to users and businesses.
Beginning from the year 1913 California became the first state to prohibit marijuana as an Addendum to the Poison Act. We did not see much attempt to change this up until 1972 for proposition 19 when California made its first attempt to independently legalize marijuana for recreation use, however this failed due to nearly 66.5% for Californians being against marijuana being legalized. However, even though in 1972 the legalization failed, in 1975 California signed a Senate Bill #95 in which lowered the punishment for marijuana possession of up to an ounce from a possible felony offence to a demeanor with a citation added. These laws began to gradually change the views of California residence opinion regarding if marijuana should be legalized regardless of federal law from to 55.58% of California residence supporting its legalization in 1996. However, in these times California was still heavily enforcing marijuana and not until 2010 senate bill #1449 did we see a huge decrease in the punishment and a gradual downfall in how marijuana was enforced throughout the state. In fact, in 2012 up until we see marijuana legalized this year, less than 20,000 arrests were related to marijuana in California.
This strategic ambiguity style of enforcement towards marijuana creates negative consequences now because didn’t create a clear position on how marijuana will be enforced. Instead it allowed the door for the option of marijuana use to be open to people’s personal interpretation because if it was really “bad” then the government would be creating punishment towards users, instead of minimizing the punishment. Although California law has allowed marijuana to be legal, it is conflicting due to the federal law regarding marijuana. Because California over the years has minimized the enforcement of marijuana at a state level, California lawmakers and residences believe that the state law should be upheld, although it goes against the federal law. However, I believe that the federal government is also using a negative ambiguity style of communicating and trying to enforce these laws. In 2014 congress banned the Drug Enforcement Agency from using federal funds to enforce the laws regarding medical marijuana if it was legal under state laws. This has established their position to respect state laws regarding how they felt they should go about marijuana legalization.
But recently Jeff Sessions has made it known that he would like to federally enforce marijuana regardless of state laws. This creates consequences because now people began to feel disappointment & untrusting, going forwards towards the federal government ability to respect state laws. It also begins to appear suspicious since the federal government over the years, and even with the current administration respected states laws to legalize marijuana, up until California decides to legalize it. This shows that marijuana laws need to have more clear and direct laws regarding states and federal laws towards the enforcement of marijuana, and the federal government needs to establish and present a clear position on how this will be enforcing these laws with states that do have legalized marijuana.