Pubdate: Thu, 05 May 2016
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2016 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Lisa Leff, Associated Press


Look to Land Measure on November Ballot

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Backers of a marijuana legalization initiative 
said Wednesday they have collected enough signatures for the measure 
to qualify for the November ballot in California.

The coalition that includes former Facebook president Sean Parker and 
is backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and marijuana advocacy groups said 
it has collected 600,000 signatures from registered voters - far more 
than the 365,000 needed - ahead of the July 5 deadline.

Stressing what promises to be a dominant message of their campaign, 
Newsom and other supporters said the initiative will make it harder 
for people under 21 to obtain pot.

"You do not need to be pro-marijuana to be pro-legalization," Newson 
said. "We are not promoting something that is not already ubiquitous 
in the state of California."

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act was one of more than a dozen 
recreational marijuana measures that initially competed for the 
November ballot. The groups with the most political capital and money 
eventually lined up behind the Parker-spearheaded initiative after a 
behind-the-scenes skirmish over issues such as whether growers would 
be allowed to sell directly to retail outlets and how medical 
marijuana would be taxed.

The initiative has been endorsed by the California NAACP, California 
Medical Association and California Democratic Party. The California 
Republican Party voted to oppose it at its convention last month.

The campaign's fundraising committee had raised $2.5 million as of 
the end of March, the bulk of it from Parker, a political action 
committee funded by the late founder of Progressive Insurance, and a 
California venture capitalist who founded an online medical marijuana 
platform called WeedMaps.

Campaign spokesman Jason Kinney would not say Wednesday how much 
initiative backers expect to spend to get it passed. With several 
deep-pocketed donors already on board, raising money should not be a 
problem for this campaign, he said.

California became the first U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana 
20 years ago and it was the first state to put a recreational use 
initiative before voters. The 2010 measure failed amid infighting 
between dispensary owners and growers.

In the years since, voters in Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon 
have passed initiatives allowing for the sale and use of marijuana by 
adults 21 and over.

Initiatives allowing for casual use already have qualified for 
November ballots in Nevada and Maine.

The California measure would allow adults 21 and over to buy an ounce 
of marijuana and marijuana-infused products at licensed retail 
outlets and also to grow up to six pot plants for personal 
recreational use. It incorporates most of the regulatory framework of 
the state's medical marijuana industry such as detailed tracking, 
testing and labeling requirements.

Recreational and medical sales of pot would be overseen by a new 
bureau within the California Department of Consumer Affairs. 
Recreational pot would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax.

California's legislative analyst and finance director estimate that 
legalizing marijuana for recreational use could net as much as $1 
billion a year in new tax revenue for the state and local 
governments. They said the initiative would direct most taxes on 
marijuana sales and production to covering regulatory costs, research 
on the effects of legalization, substance abuse treatment and other purposes.

The measure would pass with a simple majority vote.

Those opposed to legalization launched a campaign Wednesday to defeat 
the measure.

The group, which includes police, unions, elected officials, small 
growers and hospital officials, said it will lay out legal loopholes 
that should concern even those generally supportive of legalization.

Ventura police Chief Ken Corney, president of the California Police 
Chiefs Association, said current law prohibits convicted meth and 
heroin felons from being involved in medical marijuana.

"But this new initiative will specifically allow for convicted major 
meth and heroin dealers to be licensed recreational marijuana vendors 
in California," Corney said. "You have to question proponents in 
terms of placing personal wealth and corporation profits ahead of 
community well-being."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom