California voters mull sex, drugs and plastic bags

Will weed be bigger than whiskey?
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Story highlights

  • California to vote on 17 ballot propositions, but it's not a record
  • Propositions touch on condom use, marijuana sales and plastic bags

San Francisco (CNN)Should porn stars wear condoms? Should we get (legally) high? Should plastic bags be banned?

They're not the biggest decisions come Tuesday, but California voters have choices to make.
    Voters in the most populous state have to slog through 17 such questions this Tuesday -- some colorful, some gravely serious like repealing the death penalty.
    But 17 questions are nothing compared with the 48 ballot measures Californians dealt with in 1914 or the 29 in 1988.
    The sheer number of propositions has raised eyebrows, and it has also triggered confusion and anger.
    "This is not direct democracy. This is a broken system," lamented a San Francisco Chronicle editorial over the ballot-happy state.
    And sometimes the only way to make sense of it all is to put it into a song, as one group of musicians did, with lines like "52 deals with hospital fees and Medi-Cal matching funds."
    What a time to exercise your vote in the Golden State.

    Sex: Voters have a say on porn

    Proposition 60 requires porn performers to wear condoms. Porn film producers would also foot the bill for their performers' STD tests and vaccines.
    Why is this on the ballot? That's what a lot of people want to know.
    This is a public health issue, proponents say.
    Condoms protect porn workers' health and their jobs if they insist on having protection. Voters passed a similar law in Los Angeles County in 2012 and now the AIDS Healthcare Foundation wants to expand it to the entire state.
    Opponents say this will just drive the porn business out of the state and that it opens up the industry to frivolous lawsuits.

    Drugs: Legalize marijuana and control drug prices

    Will weed be bigger than whiskey?
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    Will weed be bigger than whiskey? 04:07
    Proposition 64 legalizes recreational marijuana in California. It would also slap a 15% sales tax on retail sales of pot.
    Why is this on the ballot? Medical marijuana is already legal in California. This would clear a way for recreational use.
    California's not alone on this one Tuesday. Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts and Maine also have similar decisions to make.
    Proposition 61 is shaping up to be a really expensive fight for the hearts and minds of California's voters.
    It limits how much the state pays for prescription drugs from pharmaceutical companies. Under this proposal, California wouldn't pay more than the lowest price paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    Why is this on the ballot? Think EpiPen and Pharma Bro. High-profile price hikes have cast a critical eye on big pharma.
    Bernie Sanders backs the measure and major drug companies oppose it. The battle over Proposition 61 could be the most expensive ballot proposition battle.

    Plastic bags: To ban or not to ban?

    California passes vote on plastic bag ban
    California passes vote on plastic bag ban

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    California passes vote on plastic bag ban 01:04
    More cities around California have been banning plastic bags because they're "flimsy, storm-drain-blocking, sea-turtle-choking, virtually immortal," as summed up by the Los Angeles Times.
    So, in 2014, the state passed a statewide ban on plastic bags, allowing a 10-cent charge on paper bags.
    Proposition 67 would keep the state plastic bag ban on track.
    The American Progressive Bag Alliance says the law needs to be repealed because it kills 2,000 manufacturing jobs. Proponents say plastic bags kill wildlife, pollute oceans and cause litter, and that the campaign is being waged by plastic bag companies.
    Why is this on the ballot? If state lawmakers already passed the ban, why is there a vote on this? The proposition was supported by the plastic bag industry with a slogan, "bag the ban" that insists that its bags "are the most environmentally friendly option."

    Extra credit for San Francisco

    While Californians have their homework cut out for them, San Francisco residents have 25 additional ballot measures to assess.
    Among other issues, they have to figure out: Should 16-year-olds vote in local elections? Should noncitizens vote in San Francisco school board elections? Should the city tax soda?