Pubdate: Tue, 03 Nov 2015
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Sacramento Bee
Authors: Christopher Cadelago and Peter Hecht


Former State Public Health Official Will Head Ballot Effort

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom Says Measure Is in Line With His Views

Doctors' Group Backs Legalization; Will Evaluate Measure

Donald Lyman, a retired physician and former board member at the 
California Medical Association, said Monday he will lead a 
well-funded statewide effort to legalize recreational marijuana next year.

Lyman, of Sacramento, is the chief proponent for the Adult Use of 
Marijuana Act, the long-awaited legalization measure introduced 
Monday that's expected to receive funding from former Facebook 
president Sean Parker and be guided by veteran Democratic political 
consultant Gale Kaufman.

The proposed initiative, which is supported by two national cannabis 
groups, along with environmental and social justice organizations, is 
one of several aiming for next year's statewide ballot. It is seen as 
among the most likely to qualify and withstand an opposition campaign 
given its financial backers.

The legalization push by Lyman and conservationist Michael Sutton 
would allow adults 21 years and older to possess, use and share up to 
an ounce of marijuana. It would impose a 15 percent excise tax on all 
retail sales, though localities could still ban marijuana sales in 
their jurisdictions.

It is the product of months of negotiations, and comes after Gov. 
Jerry Brown helped broker medical cannabis regulations in the 
Legislature. Brown's actions followed the release of a report by Lt. 
Gov. Gavin Newsom urging a cautious approach to legalizing 
recreational marijuana. Newsom, a candidate for governor in 2018, 
said Monday he supports the measure and that it aligned with his 

"It is backed by the broadest coalition of supporters to date, and I 
believe that Californians will rally behind this consensus measure, 
which also serves to strengthen law enforcement, respect local 
preferences, protect public health and public safety, and restore the 
environment," Newsom said.

Parker, while not discussing his level of financial involvement, said 
in a written statement that he's been following the marijuana 
legalization drive with great interest for some time.

"It's very encouraging to see a vibrant community of activists, many 
of whom have dedicated their lives to this issue, coming together 
around a sensible reform based measure that protects children, gives 
law enforcement additional resources, and establishes a strong 
regulatory framework for responsible adult use of marijuana  one that 
will yield economic benefits for all Californians.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that a coalition is forming around these 
shared goals."

Others on board with the effort include the Drug Policy Alliance, 
Marijuana Policy Project and California Cannabis Industry Association.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, 
cited its "pragmatic regulatory provisions," while Nate Bradley, 
executive director of the industry group, said it will allow 
California to take its "rightful place" as the center of investment 
and innovation in the cannabis economy.

Still, there remain fractures in the contentious cannabis advocacy community.

George Mull, a Sacramento attorney representing the California 
Cannabis Association, said the group was filing its own initiative 
because the marijuana industry business group didn't like some of the 
language in the Adult Use of Marijuana Measure.

Mull said the initiative, which bans alcohol and cigarette retailers 
from selling pot, leaves a loophole that could allow major brewers 
and big tobacco companies to get in on marijuana manufacturing or distribution.

"We're still hopeful that we're going to find common ground, he said. 
"But we haven't reached it yet."

San Francisco attorney Matt Kumin, executive director of the 
legalization advocacy group California Cannabis Voice, said the 
initiative succeeds by recognizing and regulating "cannabis as 
agriculture." But he said he was disappointed that the measure would 
impose criminal penalties for possession of more than an ounce of 
marijuana, including up to six months in jail for possession for sale.

"Over an ounce is a criminal penalty. Is that legalization?" Kumin said.

Lyman, a former state public health deputy director who oversaw the 
tobacco control program, characterized the measure as comprehensive 
and carefully written. In 2011, he authored a white paper for the CMA 
that called for the legalization of marijuana. The group, 
representing more than 40,000 doctors statewide, said in the 
declaration that the federal marijuana ban was "a failed public health policy."

The doctors' lobby also said states such as California with medical 
marijuana programs put the medical profession in the awkward position 
of having to serve as gatekeeper for people wanting to legally use marijuana.

"The prohibition thing hasn't worked, and we need something 
different," Lyman said in an interview Monday.

Lyman is serving as an individual proponent, not as a representative 
for the CMA. Dustin Corcoran, head of the CMA, has been in contact 
with drafters of the initiative, Lyman said.

"It's very clear that Dustin and Parker are very determined that 
something happen," he said. "He (Corcoran) wants to get one of these 
things passed that fits into the criteria of the white paper. That 
would be very pleasing."


Legalizing marijuana

Major provisions of a proposed marijuana legalization measure

Legalizes possession of one ounce of marijuana and cultivation of six 
plants by adults 21 and over

Imposes 15 percent taxes on retail sales of recreational marijuana in 
addition to state and local sales taxes

Establishes a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for marijuana 
flowers (or buds) and $2.75 per ounce for marijuana leaves

Allows local governments to ban recreational marijuana businesses 
with local voter approval

Imposes an infraction and maximum fine of $100 for possession of more 
than an ounce of marijuana

Allows penalties of a $500 fine or up to six months in county jail 
for possession of marijuana for sale

Maintains the rights of employers to require drug-free workplaces or 
enact policies prohibiting marijuana use by employees
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom