Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jan 2013
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Peter Hecht


Inspired by victorious measures to legalize marijuana in Colorado and
Washington, California activists are readying a new ballot push to
expand legalization in the Golden State  but not until 2016.

Drug policy groups, pro-legalization lawmakers and other marijuana
advocates say they don't favor holding a California vote on legalizing
recreational pot use in 2014, when there will be a smaller electorate
than in a presidential year and likely less money and enthusiasm for a
pot measure.

"We need to take a breath  because we're California, and we're super
complicated," said Amanda Reiman, California policy manager for the
Drug Policy Alliance.

The note of caution punctuated cries of "Yes we cannabis!" at a
weekend marijuana conference in San Francisco, where advocates lined
up to call for a 2016 California initiative to legalize possession and
cultivation of marijuana beyond medical use.

Dale Sky Jones, spokeswoman for Proposition 19, a failed 2010
legalization measure, announced a new Coalition for Cannabis Policy
Reform to work on California marijuana issues, including a 2016 ballot

"We must make a commitment for legalization 1,380 days from now," she

The two-day state conference of the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws also featured hand-wringing over the failure
of state lawmakers to regulate California's existing medical marijuana
industry in the face of a federal crackdown.

Last year, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, sponsored a bill
to create a state board to regulate medical marijuana cultivation and
use. It passed in the Assembly but stalled in the Senate.

Ammiano announced at the conference that he will seek to resurrect the
bill at a Feb. 11 Senate hearing. He also pledged to introduce
legislation to implement broader regulations in anticipation of
advocates qualifying a 2016 initiative to legalize marijuana for adult
recreational use.

Despite California's status as the first state to legalize medical
marijuana in 1996 and as home of the largest marijuana economy, many
lawmakers remain fearful of the issue, Ammiano said.

"The main thing in Sacramento that I've been facing is the lack of
support for any issue around marijuana," Ammiano said.

In Colorado, where residents last year voted to make marijuana use
legal by a 55 to 45 percent vote, the state already had rigorous
oversight of its medical marijuana industry, including state-licensed
pot workers.

Reiman suggested similar regulations may be needed in California
before voters sign off on legalizing pot beyond medical use.

Otherwise, she said, "Our opponents are going ... to say, 'You haven't
figured out medical marijuana in 20 years  and now you want to
legalize?' " 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D