Measure to Legalize Pot May Be on California’s November Ballot

California voters could decide whether to legalize marijuana in November after supporters announced Monday that they have more than enough signatures to ensure that it qualifies for the ballot.

The petition drive has collected more than 680,000 signatures, said Richard Lee, the measure’s main proponent, about 57% more than the 433,971 needed.

“It was so easy to get them,” Lee said. “People were so eager to sign.”

The initiative would allow cities and counties to adopt laws to allow marijuana to be grown and sold, and to impose taxes on marijuana production and sales. It would make it legal for anyone who is at least 21 to possess an ounce of marijuana and grow plants in an area of no more than 25 square feet for personal use.

Steve Smith, a political consultant who has run many California initiative campaigns, said that as a rule of thumb, supporters assume that about 30% of the signatures on petitions will be invalidated.

“I’ll be very surprised if they don’t qualify,” he said.

The measure, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act, is one of four initiatives in circulation to legalize marijuana use, but it is the only one that appears to have the financial support to make the ballot.

Lee’s firm, one of the state’s most successful marijuana businesses, has spent at least $1.1 million so far on the measure. Lee owns half a dozen businesses in Oakland, including Coffeeshop Blue Sky, a medical marijuana dispensary, and Oaksterdam University, which teaches about marijuana.

Lee said he expected that the campaign will cost between $7 million and $20 million, but he hopes to raise the money from across the country.

“We feel like we’ve done our part,” he said.

Lee has hired consultants to run an Internet-based campaign that he said already has a mailing list of about 30,000.

In a news release, the campaign announced that it had more than 650,000 signatures, but Lee said that the firm he hired to collect signatures put the number at more than 680,000. Lee said volunteers would continue to gather signatures until the campaign turns in the petition early next year.

Polls have shown support among California voters for legalization. A Field Poll taken in mid-April found that 56% of voters in the state and 60% in Los Angeles County want to make pot legal and tax it. A poll taken for the initiative’s proponents in August found that 51% of likely voters supported it when read language similar to what will be on the ballot, but that increased to 54% when they were read a less technical synopsis.

Smith said those numbers suggest proponents face tough odds.

“Generally, you are at your high point when you start,” he said. “The no side just has to come up with one good reason to vote no.”

But Smith said that a lot will depend on how much money is spent by both sides and whether the electorate tilts toward left or right on election day.

“I think it’ll probably be a very close vote,” he said.

Law enforcement organizations are likely to oppose the measure, but several contacted Monday said they had not yet adopted an official position.

Some marijuana advocates have criticized Lee for pushing his measure, arguing that they would have a better chance in 2012, a presidential election year when the electorate tends to be more liberal.

“I think things have turned our way so much that we have a good chance of winning,” Lee said. “This is the time to bring up the issue and talk about it. Who knows what will be going on in 2012.”

Dale Gieringer, the director of California NORML, was one of the skeptics, but he said his pro-legalization organization would endorse the ballot measure.

“I’d like the initiative to pass,” he said, “but I’m not holding my breath necessarily for this to happen.”

Lee said he believes that the increasing acceptance of medical marijuana has changed the dynamic. He said voters are aware that it is easy to obtain a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana, but he said most believe that is “a good thing.”

“Medical marijuana in California has been accepted as legalization in some ways by a lot of the population,” he said. “To me this is codifying what it happening.”

– Article from the Los Angeles Times.

Comments

5 Comments

  1. Anonymous on

    I cant see that Cannabis will be legalised, there are too many politicians and high ranking officials against the bill to allow it to be passed through.

  2. Anonymous on

    Well it is about time someone had the sense to suggest limiting the space it can be legally grown in.

    “It would make it legal for anyone who is at least 21 to possess an ounce of marijuana and grow plants in an area of no more than 25 square feet for personal use.”

    This is exactly what needs to happen. Lets face it, you can fill a huge room with only four plants if given the right amount of time and environment.

    Limit the space to where you can legally grow and it becomes illegal when it is sold or removed from the premisis in large quantities.

    Then watch the legitimate consultants, garden shops and electrical shops grow and prosper…..legally. Even more tax spinoffs for the man.

    Think about it!!

  3. Anonymous on

    It is time for all Canadians move to California and help vote this next year, maybe the battle is lost at home but here we can tax cannabis regulate the sale of it, and help the economy of California we can make this into a tourist mecca
    with our Cannabis coffee shops and Cannabis Cup.
    free Mark Emery and why don’t we all just get along?
    there is new research that a Concentrated Cannabis Compound given to mice, increased brain cells regeneration in an area called hippocampus, actual neurogenesis, also cannabis has been shown to shrink tumors why are we denying this medicine to cancer patients and letting huge amounts of revenue go into the hands of the black market and Organized crime, lets take the tax money and help our infrastructure.
    we are loosing thousands of jobs and we need to generate new sources of revenue bring back flavored cigarettes we are adults, I hope wherever you are you have buds.