Pubdate: Thu, 05 Nov 2015
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2015 North Coast Journal
Author: Grant Scott-Goforth


The most prominent ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana 
in California was announced recently, and the San Francisco Chronicle 
reports it has strong funding support from many of the state's 
mega-wealthy investors, including former Facebook President Sean Parker.

The measure is not alone - it joins 16 other decriminalization 
initiatives that could go before voters - but it seems, at this 
stage, the most likely to be well-funded enough to make it on the 
ballot in 2016.

The measure would allow for small personal grows, introduce excise 
and growing taxes, and allow people convicted of marijuana crimes to 
petition a court to expunge their records.

While the fight for legalization in California begins to warm up, 
voters in Ohio on Election Day killed an effort to legalize recreational pot.

It isn't an out-and-out defeat for marijuana advocates though, as the 
investor-backed measure would have placed lucrative control of the 
state's would-be marijuana industry squarely in the hands of a select 
few business interests.

As reported by the Week, Ohio's Issue 3 would have limited the number 
of cultivation licenses in the state to 10. Not only that, the 
measure noted the "specific locations and parcels of lands where 
these facilities will be based." And who backed the initiative? Yes, 
the very owners of the 10 parcels, a list that included basketball 
hall of famer Oscar Robertson and reality TV star and Jessica 
Simpson-ex Nick Lachey.

The Washington Post reported that 24 investors own the 10 proposed 
pot farm parcels, and that "each ownership group was asked to invest 
roughly $2 to $4 million in the ResponsibleOhio campaign advocating 
for legalization."

Backers of the legalization effort campaigned on the typical social 
justice platform that marijuana advocates in the state and elsewhere 
have long maintained, though there was clearly a financially 
motivating factor for the owners of the parcels.

"It has taken the alcohol industry decades of lobbying to roll back 
many of the restrictive, public health-oriented regulations 
established after the end of Prohibition," the Week's Keith Humphreys 
wrote. "Booze industry executives must look with envy upon the 
emerging marijuana industry, which can use the ballot initiative 
process to achieve complete regulatory capture from day one."

Despite the defeat, it's a legalization model that could catch on in 
other states with increasingly cannabis-friendly wealthy investors. A 
wave of dissatisfaction with marijuana laws is sweeping the nation. 
It's unclear if the state's voters were turned off by pot in general, 
or if they were disturbed by the particularly overt cash grab. Let's 
hope California's careful to put equitable legalization in place next year.

The Arcata City Council was slated to revisit proposals for Medical 
Marijuana Innovation Zones at its Nov. 4 meeting as the Journal went 
to press. And if last week's neighborhood input gathering at the 
Desserts on Us building was any indication, the council is likely to 
expand the number of parcels in the zone.

Dozens of people turned out to support inclusion of "Area C," the 
northernmost section of the West End Road area that was recommended 
for inclusion by the planning commission but nixed by the council at 
its last meeting.

Among the supporters of Area C were owners of the former Wayne Bare 
Trucking facility, who intend to create a business park for medical 
marijuana producers, and most of the other parcel owners in the area. 
Despite tearful pleas from staff from North Coast Children's 
Services, which sits several hundred feet from some Area C parcels, 
the majority of the council indicated it was amenable to including 
the area. The council may adopt new zoning for "Area A," the former 
Humboldt Flakeboard plant, this week. Check 
for updates.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom