Pubdate: Tue, 02 Aug 2011 Source: Colusa County Sun-Herald (CA) Copyright: 2011 Freedom Communications Contact: http://www.colusa-sun-herald.com/sections/letters-to-editor/ Website: http://www.colusa-sun-herald.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/4994 Author: Rob Parsons, Tri-County Newspapers NEW GROUP SEEKS TO REGULATE MARIJUANA A new effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use in California is working its way toward the 2012 ballot, and organizers of the proposed initiative are hoping for the support of farmers. "Farmers in the Central Valley could benefit the most," said Steve Kubby, manager of the "Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Wine 2012." In fact, Kubby is adamant that his organization is not seeking to legalize, but to regulate marijuana. "It is not a legalization initiative, it is not a de-criminalization initiative," Kubby said Monday. "It would treat marijuana like wine and be regulated exactly the same way we treat alcohol." Kubby said driving under the influence would still be against the law, as would providing marijuana to anyone under the age of 21. "Our goal is to stop a failed drug policy and repeal these bad laws," Kubby said. Semantic hair-splitting aside, the proposed initiative would make marijuana legal for recreational use for adults 21 and older and would retroactively void all outstanding criminal cases statewide, Kubby acknowledged. Kubby suggested the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board should have direct oversight of any commercial marijuana sales, and the potential mass-marketing of the lucrative crop is the message marijuana supporters are sending to California farmers. "California marijuana would almost market itself and in these economic times when so many in that area are out of work, it would be extremely profitable not only for marijuana, but hemp-related products, too," Kubby said. However, local farmers have long expressed ambivalence about growing marijuana. Some farmers in Glenn, Colusa and Tehama counties have indicated they would consider growing marijuana only if it was legalized federally to ensure protection against prosecution and their subsidy programs. Others in the area have said they would never grown pot because of a moral objection. State Farm Bureau officials said the organization has not formal position on the proposed measure until it qualifies for the ballot. The initiative would allow private residents to grow their own plants within certain amounts, which Kubby compared to home-brewing beer and wine. Kubby's state-recognized campaign committee expects to spend about $1.4 million on their campaign to make the ballot next year, and said language for the new initiative would be sent to the state some time this week. Kubby, who was involved with the 1996 medical marijuana initiative, Proposition 215, said his group submitted their first draft last month and are now revising their proposal. The initiative has support from many retired law enforcement veterans, including former Orange County Judge Jim Gray, who has long supported legalized marijuana. Not everyone in California law enforcement agrees, however. Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones and Colusa County Sheriff Scott Marshall said they would never support legalizing the controversial crop. "I want to be clear: I absolutely despise marijuana," Jones said Tuesday. Jones does agree the current state drug policy has failed, but noted at least part of that failure is directly attributable to what he called the "chronic abuse" of Prop. 215 medical marijuana laws. "Legalization is not the answer," Jones said. Jones said ending marijuana prohibition would not solve "dangerous invasions of public lands" in the Mendocino National Forest until the laws are changed federally. Millions of dollars are spent each year eradicating marijuana grows in the forest, and Jones said the cost of eradication is completely justified to keep "dangerous traffickers from using American soil for criminal activities." Marshall said marijuana use would cause massive health problems and said taxpayers would likely foot the bill. "The public has been tricked into thinking marijuana use is OK. It's not," Marshall said. "Most of these people just want to smoke pot, party and make a bunch of money." Kubby disagrees with the sheriffs and believes the fight on public land would end if pot were legal. Both Jones and Marshall said they support the legitimate use of marijuana prescribed to manage the pain of the terminally ill. Supporters of legalized marijuana feel confident coming off their narrow defeat of Prop. 19 in November. The measure was defeated by just 6 percentage points, which is a gap supporters believe can be closed. The Public Policy Institute of California reported that voting for Prop. 19 fell almost perfectly along generational lines, with younger voters overwhelmingly in support and older generations equally opposed. Supporters have also said the Prop. 19 campaign was successful in legitimizing the discussion to legalize marijuana and perhaps curtail the long-fought War on Drugs. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.