Pubdate: Fri, 17 Jul 2015
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2015 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Jessica Calefati


Legalization Effort Is Expected to Succeed As Support Increases

SACRAMENTO - Proponents of a proposed ballot measure aimed at making 
California the fifth state to legalize pot for recreational use are a 
few weeks away from kicking off their November 2016 campaign, 
supporters said Thursday.

Once the marijuana legalization coalition known as Reform CA files 
its initiative with the state Attorney General's Office, the group 
can begin gathering the 365,000 valid signatures it will need to put 
a proposition on the ballot - something coalition chairwoman Dale Sky 
Jones says she's confident it can do.

Four other initiatives with the same goal have already been cleared 
for circulation, but this is the one that's expected to attract top 
donors and major interest from a huge network of grass-roots supporters.

"We have been working on the plan to make a strong run at the ballot 
box," said Sky Jones, the executive director of Oaksterdam 
University, the country's first college devoted to instruction about cannabis.

During a conference call with reporters, Sky Jones said she thinks it 
will take up to $14 million to run a successful campaign, but she 
released few details about who the top donors might be or what the 
initiative will look like - other than to say that it seeks to 
control, tax and regulate recreational marijuana. The initiative 
would also write rules for California's decades-old medical marijuana 
industry, she said.

"California is long overdue," she said, adding that Colorado and 
Washington state have had few problems since voters passed similar 
laws in 2012. Voters in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia 
legalized recreational pot use in November.

California voters rejected marijuana legalization in November 2010, 
but a recent Public Policy Institute of California poll showed that 
attitudes on the issue have shifted, with 55 percent of likely voters 
now supporting legalization.

But as public support for the plant grows, so does the concern about 
underage use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse's 2014 annual 
survey found 34 percent of 10th-graders and 44 percent of 
12th-graders had used marijuana.

But that's a compelling case for legalization and regulation, argues 
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018 
and chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union's task force on 
marijuana legalization. The group is expected to release a report 
with recommendations as soon as next month.

The campaign's success will hinge in part on tapping into 
Californians' passion for pot legalization, and that's why ReformCA 
hired Joe Trippi, a veteran political consultant who became a 
household name a decade ago when he ran former Vermont Gov. Howard 
Dean's presidential campaign.

On Thursday's conference call with reporters, Trippi said the group 
has already amassed an email list of 70,000 supporters without 
spending a dime on advertising.

"Too often, people wait too long to build their digital army," said 
Trippi, referring to the list of supporters he plans to solicit for 
small donations. "Our legalization effort will be a well-thought-out, 
disciplined campaign."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom