Pubdate: Wed, 29 Jun 2016
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Los Angeles Times
Author: Patrick McGreevy


An initiative that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana 
in California officially took its place on the Nov. 8 ballot Tuesday 
as its campaign took a commanding lead in fundraising to battle the 
measure's opponents.

The secretary of state's office certified that a random sample showed 
sufficient signatures among the 600,000 turned in to qualify the measure.

The initiative is backed by a coalition that includes former Facebook 
President Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

"Today marks a fresh start for California as we prepare to replace 
the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a 
safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it 
right and completely pays for itself," said Jason Kinney, a spokesman 
for California's Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

The initiative would allow adults ages 21 and older to possess, 
transport and use up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational 
purposes and would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants.

California would join Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon as 
states that allow recreational use of marijuana.

Eight other states also have marijuana measures on their ballots this year.

More than $3.7 million has been raised so far by the leading campaign 
for the initiative, Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult 
Use of Marijuana While Protecting Children.

Leading contributors so far have included Parker, legalization 
advocacy group Drug Policy Action and a committee funded by Weedmaps, 
a company that helps consumers find pot shops.

Opposition is led by the Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies, 
made up of law enforcement and health groups including the California 
Police Chiefs Assn., the California Hospital Assn. and the California 
State Sheriffs' Assn.

The groups warn legalization will lead to more drugged-driving and 
allow dealers of harder drugs to have a role in the new industry.

The coalition has raised about $125,000 so far from groups including 
the Assn. of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs State PAC and the Los 
Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Assn.

A similar coalition helped defeat the last legalization measure in 
California, Proposition 19, in 2010.

"This campaign will be very similar to that of Proposition 19. They 
have the money, and we have the facts," said Tim Rosales, a spokesman 
for the opposition coalition.

Rosales noted that under current law, convicted methamphetamine and 
heroin dealers are banned from being involved in the medical 
marijuana industry, but the initiative overturns that ban and lets 
those felons obtain licenses to sell recreational marijuana.

"The proponents were specifically advised by numerous law enforcement 
groups during the comment period about this huge flaw, but they 
deliberately chose to keep it in, and you have to ask 'Why?' " 
Rosales said. "Who is that provision for? They got it wrong. Again."

At a conference last week hosted by the National Cannabis Industry 
Assn. in Oakland, businesspeople and activists were upbeat about the 
chances of the initiative passing, even though the 2010 measure was 
defeated, with 53% of voters casting "no" ballots.

Advocates say the new measure has a better chance because it adds 
more regulation at the state level rather than letting locals dictate 
what happens, and comes after the state has approved a regulatory 
system for medical marijuana growing, transportation and sales.

In addition, the presidential election is expected to draw more 
young, progressive voters than the 2010 midterm election, said Taylor 
West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Assn.

It also helps that recreational use has already been approved in 
other states, she said.

"This is six years later. We've already seen legalization pass and be 
successful in other states. So it's a different world in talking 
about his issue than it was," said West, an activist who helped host 
the Oakland conference.

West said "there needs to be real funding behind [the measure] and 
there needs to be a lot of work" to overcome opposition from law 
enforcement groups.

"We think voters in California are ready to end marijuana prohibition 
and replace it with a more sensible system," said Mason Tvert, a 
spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has about 200,000 
supporters nationwide.

Tvert is confident this year's measure will do better than past attempts.

He expects activists from all over the country will get involved in 
the California campaign, either through campaign contributions or 
working phone banks to get out the vote.

"We are moving to mobilize our supporters," Tvert said. "There are 
folks throughout the country who recognize the importance of making 
marijuana legal in the largest state in the nation. There are a lot 
of folks who recognize that passage of these laws in other states 
will make it easier for their state to move forward."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom