Pubdate: Wed, 12 Feb 2014
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Copyright: 2014 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs


Why It Looks Like California Will Not Legalize Pot This Year.

Millions of weed aficionados will likely face the consequences of
ongoing prohibition of marijuana in California through at least 2016.
There are just 66 days left to turn in the 800,000 signatures
necessary for a legalization petition to qualify for the November 4
ballot, and collecting those signatures requires several million
dollars that no group has been willing to commit this year.

The four groups proposing pot legalization in 2014 woefully lag behind
deadlines suggested by the state for ensuring a successful initiative.
They groups are also at each other's throats over the dirty details of
full legalization. This infighting, coupled with California's soft 56
percent support for ending the weed war, appears to be scaring away
big donors needed to legalize marijuana this fall.

Look to history as a guide. Since California created the ballot
initiative process in 1911, just 7 percent of all ballot measures
circulated for signatures have passed. And batting way below that
average of .070 is weed legalization. Reform groups have floated about
forty weed measures since the Seventies, and only one has passed:
Proposition 215 in 1996.

That's because it's laughably easy to circulate an initiative
petition, but extremely difficult to gather enough valid signatures to
make the ballot and then garner a 50-percent-plus-one majority on
Election Day.

Any California adult can fill out the paperwork and get the state
Attorney General to write a "title and summary," which activists use
when they circulate their petition. Problem is, you need valid
signatures totaling 5 percent of the votes in the prior governor's
race. That's 504,760 valid signatures for would-be weed law reformers.
And since nearly half of the signatures you get are going to come from
"Wiz Khalifa at 420 Stone St., Weed, CA, 94420" you really have to get
around 800,000 raw signatures.

According to the state elections website, reform groups have until
April 18 to file their raw signatures with each county they collected
them in. That leaves about two months between now and then to gather
800,000 signatures. And as of press time, none of the groups was
remotely close to this total.

The front-runner in this debacle is the Drug Policy Alliance, which
has its title and summary from the AG, and is conducting polls to see
if it's initiative will pass by a wide enough margin. DPA California
coordinator Amanda Reiman said the deep-pocketed group, which helped
bankroll legalization in Washington and Colorado, will make a funding
decision by Valentine's Day.

Pot legalization polls at about 56 percent in California, but the
exact flavor of legalization has divided the state. Issues like local
bans, taxes, regulations, and drug war prisoners have split reformers
into several camps.

"It's anarchy," said Michael Jolson, who is running one of the
long-shot campaigns. "Our movement is so socially deformed."

The DPA's measure would be lucky to poll at 52 percent, because some
pot law reformers don't like its proposed one-ounce limit on personal
possession of marijuana or its prohibition on growing more than six
plants for personal use - let alone its proposed 25 percent tax on
retail sales of cannabis. DPA would then have to take that 52 percent
and defend it for six months against the full force of the Drug War
establishment - which knows that when California goes, the war is
over. And DPA would have to street-fight at least four other
pro-marijuana groups who are in open revolt against the DPA measure.

"DPA has gotten some of the worst feedback from everybody in the
community," said San Jose pot club operator Dave Hodges, who directs a
competing group. "More than likely if they move forward with it you'll
see a repeat of Prop 19 and the industry itself will kill that
initiative," he said of the failed 2010 statewide legalization measure.

That means big donors will be deciding this week about whether to pony
up about $10 million for a coin toss at best - and betting on coin
flips is not how rich people get rich in the first place.

Behind the DPA is a San Jose-based group calling itself the MCLR. The
group began collecting signatures at the High Times Medical Cannabis
Cup in San Bernardino on Saturday. MCLR co-founder Hodges agrees the
2014 drive is coming down to the last minute, but he said that Prop 19
got a half-million signatures in three weeks.

"The only long-shot is the money," he said. The MCLR is looking for
cash donations to help pay for collecting signatures. "We have very
little coming in."

Behind the MCLR is a group based out of Sacramento calling itself the
CCHI. It was the first to file back in August of 2013, and having used
an all-volunteer team, will fail to qualify for the ballot by its
150-day deadline this month. As a result, CCHI has filed paperwork to
restart the signature-gathering clock for March 12, meaning it'll have
just over a month to re-gather signatures. Representatives have said
they're hoping to raise $800,000 to pay for signature-gathering, but
so far have failed to do so.

The last initiative to enter the race comes from Oakland author and
celebrity pot cultivation instructor Ed Rosenthal, who is dissatisfied
with the other three initiatives. Rosenthal's group could begin
gathering signatures as late as March 13, and would need to find $3.2
million to quickly amass the names, which will cost about $3 to$4 per

The fat lady has not sung on the 2014 legalization season, but she is
all warmed up and waiting for her cue.  
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D