Pubdate: Fri, 18 Oct 2013
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2013 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Josh Richman


Panel Will Consider Drafting Measure to Appear on 2016 Ballot

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will head the American Civil Liberties Union's 
new panel studying marijuana legalization in California, with an eye 
toward drafting a measure for 2016's presidential-year ballot.

"Enough's enough. I can't sit back and support the status quo any 
longer," Newsom said in a telephone interview Thursday, citing the 
high prison and police costs associated with marijuana enforcement 
that disproportionately affects minority communities. "I don't want 
to be the guy giving the speeches after I'm gone about what we 
should've and could've done."

Voters in Washington state and Colorado approved legalization 
measures last year, though California voters rejected one three years 
ago. The ACLU panel over the next 18 to 24 months will monitor how 
Washington and Colorado implement their laws, producing research 
papers and holding forums across the state for the public and policymakers.

Newsom, who said he doesn't smoke marijuana, added that he's 
unconcerned about any political fallout from taking a stand on the issue.

"To me, it's like smoking anything else -- I want a regulatory regime 
that doesn't advertise to kids, that doesn't allow public use and 
secondhand smoke," he said.

Proposition 19, California's legalization measure, was defeated in 
November 2010 with a 53.5 percent "no" vote. But the ACLU on Thursday 
rolled out new polling data showing that 65 percent of Californians 
likely to vote in 2016 support legalizing, regulating and taxing 
marijuana for adults. Among political affiliations, 74 percent of 
Democrats and 71 percent of independents support such a measure, 
while Republicans are split -- 47 percent in support, 50 percent opposed.

Majorities across every region of the state support it, from 73 
percent in the Bay Area to 58 percent in the more conservative Inland 
Empire region of Southern California. Support spans ethnic lines as 
well: Legalization is supported by 74 percent of African-Americans, 
69 percent of whites and 53 percent of Latinos. Majorities of both 
genders and all age groups support it as well.

The poll of 1,200 likely voters was conducted Sept. 26 through Oct. 6 
by Tulchin Research. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 
percentage points.

Newsom said the poll asked about a legalization scheme that included 
a statewide regulation and taxation, which Proposition 19 lacked. "We 
owe it to the public to be able to answer as many of those questions 
as we can before we pass something," he said.

Waiting until 2016, he said, allows time to study the issues while 
capitalizing on a presidential election's high voter turnout.

One proposed marijuana legalization ballot measure already is 
circulating for signatures to put it on the November 2014 ballot. And 
another now awaits its official title and summary before it can start 

Besides Newsom, members of the ACLU panel include Santa Clara County 
Sheriff Laurie Smith; UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin 
Chermerinsky; Alison Holcomb, who managed Washington state's 
successful legalization ballot measure in 2012; Denver University law 
professor Sam Kamin, who serves on a task force implementing 
Colorado's successful 2012 legalization measure; Keith Humphreys, a 
former senior policy adviser to the White House Office of National 
Drug Control Policy who is now at Stanford University; attorneys from 
drug-policy reform groups; and two past presidents of the California 
Society of Addiction Medicine.
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