Pubdate: Thu, 10 Dec 2015
Source: SF Weekly (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Village Voice Media
Author: Chris Roberts


Most of California's 3 million or so cannabis consumers don't care 
how the state's biggest cash crop and America's favorite illegal 
substance becomes legal - just when.

November 2016 is looking more and more likely, with the disappearance 
this week of one major roadblock to the legalization movement in 
California: the movement itself.

For most of the second half of 2015, several competing legalization 
measures have presented themselves as contenders for next year's 
ballot - and not in a friendly way. Specifically, some organizers who 
worked on 2010's Proposition 19 - which bootstrapped its way to a 
losing effort in California but paved the way for Colorado and 
Washington to go legal in 2012 - took issue with the latecomer but 
current frontrunner campaign that is supposedly guaranteed funding 
from tech billionaire Sean Parker (himself a Prop. 19 donor).

While it would take more than "stoners against legalization" to 
derail the train, dissension within the movement was still a bad 
look. At least for now, it appears to have been fixed.

In the days before Thanksgiving, Richard Lee, the Oaksterdam 
University founder who bankrolled Prop. 19, endorsed the "Adult Use 
of Marijuana Act" (also known as the "Parker initiative," although 
Parker has yet to write a check). This was significant, given that 
Lee's former colleagues from the Prop. 19 push have been flogging 
their own legalization measure, Reform California, and threatening to 
oppose Parker's.

And on Monday, after the AUMA's backers changed their proposal to 
make it tougher for Big Weed to enter the state, other influential 
but heretofore leery industry players appear to have jumped on board 
- - including other board members of Reform California.

"I've gone from feeling like I wouldn't be able to support the Parker 
initiative to the point of being excited to be a part of the team," 
said Tim Blake, the founder and producer of The Emerald Cup, the 
Northern California cannabis industry's most legendary happening 
(which happens to be this weekend).

What's changed?

The AUMA would still allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an 
ounce of marijuana (or eight grams of hash, shatter, or other 
cannabis concentrates) and grow up to six plants. There are 
prohibitions on furnishing cannabis to minors, selling it without a 
permit, and smoking too close to schools. Penalties for violating 
these rules carry a maximum $500 fine or six months in county jail.

Commercial cannabis activity would still be allowed with a license, 
and the state's medical marijuana industry, regulated by the state 
for the first time this year, would still be expressly protected 
(meaning, if you are 18 and like to carry around up to eight ounces, 
as you can today, you will still enjoy that privilege).

Here are some highlights of what's new:

No licenses for Big Weed, for at least five years. The edited AUMA 
would put a five-year moratorium on large-scale cultivation 
operations (bigger than an acre for outdoor; 22,000 square feet or 
more for indoor).

Protections for parents. Medical marijuana use is expressly NOT 
grounds to lose children in custody battles or in fights with Child 
Protective Services, a first.

Cities and counties can ban recreational dispensaries and 
recreational activity without a public vote. This also slows down the 
industry and will upset purists, but it likely flipped the League of 
California Cities, a statewide political player, from opposing to 
neutral, sources say.

Labor peace. Organized labor, a partner in the regulation of medical 
marijuana, appeared to be a likely foil after initial drafts of the 
AUMA failed to include labor-friendly provisions written in the 
medical bills. This may not thrill the Teamsters or the United Food 
and Commercial Workers, which declined to comment, but it's closer to the mark.

Other anti-drug statutes, like the one allowing concentrate 
manufacturing to be punished like methamphetamine production, are 
still on the books. This will anger purists but won't faze 
pragmatists who realize that weedheads are still a minority.

So, what's left to question? A few things.


One of the biggest risks to legalization is an organized opposition 
movement with a recognizable and respected figurehead. In 2010, when 
Prop. 19 was defeated, that was U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

But now, even political maneuvering on entirely unrelated topics 
appears to be working in legal weed's favor.

There was talk that former San Francisco mayor Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom 
would lead the legalization push, but instead he's backing a ballot 
initiative to tighten California gun control - which just happens to 
be one of the pet issues for Feinstein, the author of the now-expired 
federal assault weapons ban. Nobody doubts that Feinstein is still 
ideologically opposed to drug legalization, but there's a good chance 
that this move by Newsom, her fellow mainstream Democrat, could at 
least neutralize her on the issue.

As for opposition from inside the movement: The only activist holdout 
has been the California chapter of the National Organization for the 
Reform of Marijuana Laws (which, as Keith Stroup, the national 
organization's legal counsel, reminded us in a recent blog post, 
"remains a consumer lobby"). As of Monday, CA NORML had not yet 
signed on with the Parker initiative. Dale Gieringer, California 
NORML's current executive director, did not respond to recent emails 
seeking comment but as recently as a few weeks ago was talking about 
a "compromise" initiative.

Who does that leave to stand in legalization's way? "Narcs," one 
high-level industry lobbyist said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom