Stanford in a Prop 19 World

Stanford in a post-Proposition 19 world: smoke billows out of dorm windows, students stumble to class in a haze, discarded Doritos bags line the hallways.

Is this dystopian, post-apocalyptic vision of Stanford likely if Prop 19 passes?

Well, no, according to the growers, sellers, and consumers that make up Stanford’s cannabis commercial ecosystem.

The Review had the opportunity to sit down with a number of such figures (on the condition of anonymity) to learn about how the local marijuana industry could change in the event that Proposition 19 was approved by California voters on November 2.

If passed, Proposition 19 would permit the consumption, cultivation, and sale of cannabis in the state of California; it would also empower local governments to regulate and tax the industry.

However, campus peddlers were skeptical of claims that legalization would raise demand for their wares. “I don’t think it’s gonna make much of a difference for California,” one dealer commented. “Consumption will more or less stay the same. People who really want to smoke pot can do it anyway right now.”

Dealers also expressed doubt regarding predictions that prices for marijuana would drop substantially. One dealer said that he did not anticipate major effects on his business: “Maybe my prices will go down just a little, but not much. Perhaps I’ll have to sell half an ounce for $10 less, but that costs $160 anyway.”

A second dealer, who obtains his merchandise from a medical marijuana club, said that predicting price changes is difficult because of the uncertain regulatory environment. “A change in price will really depend on how much the government wants to tax it and who will be able to sell it,” he said.

Both interviewees pointed to market changes that occurred after the legalization of medical marijuana as a sign of what’s to come if Proposition 19 is passed. According to them, the shift toward legal consumption, government regulation, and the decline of illegal markets began with Proposition 215, which legalized the use of medical marijuana.

One of the dealers said that Stanford’s campus supply chain now originates almost solely from legal marijuana clubs. He indicated that prices have come down as obtaining cannabis legally has become easier because of the proliferation of medical marijuana clubs. According to him, a post-Prop 19 world would accelerate that trend, as “more people will probably get [marijuana] through other means, like stores that sell legal weed.”

Furthermore, similar to Prop 215, Prop 19 will permit individual counties to determine specific regulations for the sale of cannabis within their jurisdiction. One dealer predicted that Santa Clara County, within which about 50% of Stanford’s campus sits, would continue its strict regulatory approach.

“When medical marijuana became legal, Santa Clara County would still not allow pharmacies to sell it, and people had to drive down to San Jose,” he explained. “I don’t think Santa Clara will be very liberal with how they let private sellers sell them.”

University Response


Although Prop 19 has not passed, the University has begun planning its response in the event that it does. Lisa Lapin of Stanford’s Office of Public Affairs indicated that specific university policies would not be implemented until the local regulatory environment had been established.

She explained how Stanford’s location within a number of distinct regulatory jurisdictions, including Santa Clara, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Portola Valley, means that those local municipalities will be responsible for determining local regulations. She emphasized that “the university ‘reaction’ would be determined by the law and how it would be enforced by the county.”

Although the University has not begun drafting specific policies, it has formed a committee to begin discussing how Stanford would approach the situation. “Greg Boardman, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, has named a small group to consider potential campus impacts,” Lapin said.

However, Lapin did not know all of the details of the committee, but did indicate that the group is “small” and “includes representatives from Public Safety and Student Affairs.”

Although the University will certainly attempt to regulate sale and use of cannabis on campus, some students expressed skepticism about its ability to do so. One consumer remarked, “I think Stanford will try to prevent people from selling on campus, but I highly doubt they’ll be able to enforce it.”

Much Anticipated Event

Although the future of Prop 19 is unknown, sellers and consumers expressed excitement and hope about the upcoming ballot measure. “People have anticipated this for years,” one dealer said. “Everything has been leading up to the legalization of marijuana.”

And how will we know if Proposition 19 has succeeded? “Campus will smell really bad all the time. That’s how we’ll know.”

—Additional reporting by Nadiv Rahman and Greg Naifeh.

**

Subscribe to the Stanford Review