Four Competing California Marijuana Legalization Proposals

California voters may have declined a single proposal of marijuana reform in 2010, but next year, it seems likely they will have their pick of four alternatives for legalization of recreational use and sale.
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Last year, the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014 failed to generate enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. However, the same group that introduced that measure is seeking public feedback on a proposal it wants to initiate next year. The advocates have granted open access to a Google Document in an effort to generate input.

That announcement follows the efforts of another group, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative, to introduce a new measure that would legalize up to 12 pounds of marijuana for personal use. That group also attempted to promote ballot measures in 2010, 2012 and 2014, but, like the other group, was unable to garner enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The group’s latest effort involves appearing in several spots on HashBar TV.

The third measure is the California Artisan Cannabis Initiative of 2016. Behind this effort is a lawyer from Northern California who also tried in years past to introduce marijuana reform in the state. At the core of this proposal would be guidelines that would protect small farmers of the drug from competition from larger marijuana businesses and corporations once legalization has already taken place.

Finally, there is the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, also known as ReformCA. This is considered by many to be the most credible group, as it is comprised of the same people that introduced Proposition 19 in 2010, and includes the NAACP, Oaksterdam University and California NORML. Currently, the group is collaborating with the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project to formulate a comprehensive marijuana legalization strategy that would satisfy both those who support liberal access and those who are more conservative on the issue.

It’s worth noting at this point, no single proposal has been offered up to the California Secretary of State. This is the first move for any such measure before it can make it onto the ballot. In order to ensure a proposal gets on the ballot, state rules require the language has to be submitted no later than July 7. That provides enough time for the secretary of state to review the proposal before the signature-gathering campaign begins.

Although historically. getting enough signatures on the ballot has been difficult, it’s actually expected to be easier this year than before due to several factors. The first is that the 2014 general election in California saw a record low voter turnout. That reduces the number necessary to reach a certain percentage of registered voters.

Beyond that, attitudes on marijuana legalization in California are shifting. Current drug laws are viewed as costly, ineffective and damaging to many communities. People are also seeing how the passage of recreational marijuana laws in other states like Colorado and Washington haven’t turned them into havens of illicit activity. The key is to make sure the drug’s cultivation and distribution are well-regulated.

Estimates are each campaign could cost upwards of $20 million a piece, and it’s unclear whether all four are equipped to shell out that much cash. They will have a deadline of August 1 to report their coffers and intended expenditures to the state.

Political experts say that while there is a majority support for marijuana legalization in California, it is still slim. It will be imperative for that majority to turn out to vote, and these groups will have to work hard to sway the 30 percent who don’t at this time feel strongly about the issue one way or the other.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
California marijuana legalization already a four-way tussle, March 11, 2015, By David Downs, SFgate.com
More Blog Entries:
Lawsuits Seek to Open Doors to Costa Mesa Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, March 23, 2015, California Marijuana Lawyer Blog