California Set for Historic Vote on Cannabis Legalization

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Registered California voters will have a historic chance to end cannabis prohibition for the first time in more than 100 years in the Golden State.

Proponents of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act announced Tuesday evening that state officials had qualified the ballot initiative to appear in the November General Election.
This election, Californians can end 100 years of pot prohibition, which critics say has been a disasterous failure. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • This election, Californians can end 100 years of pot prohibition, which critics say has been a disasterous failure.
Initiative proponents succeeded in collecting more than the 365,880 valid petition signatures to place AUMA on the ballot . Using professional signature-gatherers paid for by wealthy individual donors and activist groups like the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, AUMA’s team collected more than 402,468 “projected” valid signatures, a threshold it crossed Tuesday.

Tomorrow the California Secretary of State will certify the initiative as qualified. The official Title and Summary of the initiative that voters will read states:

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law. Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry.

Imposes state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of sales price, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana. Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana to minors. Authorizes re-sentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.

Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Net reduced costs ranging from tens of millions of dollars to potentially exceeding $100 million annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Net additional state and local tax revenues potentially ranging from the high hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion annually related to the production and sale of marijuana. Most of these funds would be required to be spent for specific purposes such as substance use disorder education, prevention, and treatment. (15-0103.)
When regulated, California could collect an extra $1 billion dollars per year in taxes from its existing cannabis trade, state officials estimate.

AUMA allows all adults 21 and over to walk around legally with up to one ounce of flower or seven grams of cannabis extract, as well as grow up to six plants on their own.

About 20,000 Californians are arrested each year for pot, and tens of thousands more receive tickets for marijuana infractions — with minorities bearing the brunt of the enforcement. Scores remain locked up for non-violent marijuana-related offenses.

This election cycle, legalization again faces strong opposition from the drug war establishment, including cops, rehab clinics, democrat and republican politicians supported by drug war lobbies, and even some pot growers and  medical marijuana industry who fear decreased profits under legalization.

“This campaign will very be similar to that of Proposition 19. They have the money and we have the facts,” stated the opposition coalition, which has dubbed themselves 'They Got It Wrong Again'. “This new initiative will specifically allow felons convicted of dealing up to 20,000 heroin doses to receive marijuana licenses.”

That’s not true. State regulators can bar anyone from receiving a commercial cannabis license for a wide range of issues like past hard drug dealing.

Campaign organizers said in Oakland last week that both industry and citizens need to donate and work for legalization in California this year, or it will not happen.

Legalization polls in the mid-to-high 50s in California, just as it did in 2010 when Prop 19 failed due a lack of funding, voter apathy, and an opposition campaign that included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blanketing the airwaves in October with threats of a federal backlash.

To get involved with the Let’s Get It Right campaign, individuals can sign up for updates, as well as make unlimited personal contributions to the campaign committee to legalize cannabis in California.

“And the truth is that we simply cannot do this without you. You're going to push this through to the end,” AUMA’s proponents stated Tuesday.

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