Bid to Legalize Marijuana in California Takes Key Step

Howard Dillon unloads boxes of signatures as Judge James P. Gray looks on at the Los Angeles County registrar/recorder-county clerk's office in Norwalk. (Photo by Francine Orr)Howard Dillon unloads boxes of signatures as Judge James P. Gray looks on at the Los Angeles County registrar/recorder-county clerk’s office in Norwalk. (Photo by Francine Orr)Proponents of an initiative to make California the first state to legalize marijuana have collected about 693,800 signatures, virtually guaranteeing that the measure will appear on a crowded November ballot.

“This is a historic first step toward ending cannabis prohibition,” said Richard Lee, the measure’s main backer.

Advocates, trailed by television cameras and photographers, dropped off petitions with elections officials in the state’s largest counties, including Los Angeles, where organizers said 143,105 voters signed.

Lee, a successful Oakland marijuana entrepreneur, bankrolled a professional signature-gathering effort that circulated the petition in every county except Alpine, which only has about 800 registered voters.

The initiative would make it legal for anyone 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana and grow plants in an area no larger than 25 square feet for personal use. It would also allow cities and counties to permit marijuana to be grown and sold, and to impose taxes on it.

Four legalization initiatives have been proposed, but Lee’s is the only one that is likely to make the ballot. To qualify, it needs 433,971 signatures. Elections officials have to validate the signatures, a process that will take at least six weeks.

Polls have shown growing support nationwide for legalization. In California, a Field Poll taken in April found that 56% of voters in the state and 60% in Los Angeles County want to make pot legal and tax it.

Mark DiCamillo, the poll’s director, gave the initiative 50-50 odds. But he said the state’s endless financial woes could make a difference. “The voters are going to be looking for any way to minimize the pain with budget cuts,” he said.

He also said baby boomers could play a crucial role. “They grew up with marijuana and, in many respects, don’t believe as much all the horror stories,” he said.

The initiative’s supporters are counting on this formula, but they are not taking chances. Lee hopes to raise $10 million to $15 million. His firm has already spent more than $1 million on the measure.

Lee owns half a dozen mostly pot-related businesses in Oakland, including Coffeeshop Blue Sky, a medical marijuana dispensary, and Oaksterdam University, which offers popular classes on marijuana.

Some prominent marijuana legalization advocates have questioned Lee’s decision not to wait until 2012, a presidential election year likely to draw more liberal voters, but most are nonetheless supportive.

The Drug Policy Alliance helped draft the measure and could raise substantial money. George Soros, the billionaire investor who donated heavily to help pass the state’s 1996 medical marijuana initiative, is one of its most prominent supporters. “We all have the same goal, which is to end prohibition as quickly as possible. We just haven’t determined whether this campaign in this particular year is the vehicle,” said Stephen Gutwillig, the alliance’s California director.

Lee has hired political professionals and is relying on Web technology from Blue State Digital, the firm Barack Obama used to run his vaunted Internet operation during the presidential race. The campaign raised $10,000 from the Web in the last month.

“You’ve got a very active, committed online force,” said Dan Newman, a political strategist working with the campaign. “We’re confident that we’re on the road to having the resources needed to win.”

Foes also have started to organize. Paul Chabot, founder of the Coalition for a Drug Free California, said teachers, youth activists, religious leaders, small-business men, law enforcement personnel and elected officials are putting together a coalition. “We’re going to fight them head on; we’re not going to go away,” he said. “We’re looking forward to victory in California and spreading that message like a tidal wave across the United States.”

– Article from Los Angeles Times.

Comments

14 Comments

  1. Anonymous on

    I’m tired of people referencing the bible as a basis for any argument they make. It’s getting really old. Not even gonna waste my time commenting on it because it’s not gonna go anywhere.

    Unless you’re going to develop a cure to cure some major disease like Cancer, AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, or Parkinsons, keep your religion to yourself and respect our beliefs as we do yours.

    Now, lets all puff a jay and celebrate the good news.

  2. Anonymous on

    I’m tired of people referencing the bible as a basis for any argument they make. It’s getting really old. Not even gonna waste my time commenting on it because it’s not gonna go anywhere.

    Unless you’re going to develop a cure to cure some major disease like Cancer, AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, or Parkinsons, keep your religion to yourself and respect our beliefs as we do yours.

    Now, lets all puff a jay and celebrate the good news.

  3. Samson on

    Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me-
    those who trust in their wealth and boast of their riches?

  4. The Editor and Chief on

    Why do you have ” ” circumferencing bible. Is it “make believe” in your world too? And ‘written’? Do you think the words are under debate or are you just suspicious that they may have fallen from thin air…I’m not sure where your head is more…Up your ass or in the clouds. You had better pay closer attention to who you are speaking about. Some people take Him very seriously and would bring that belief to the grave and bury anyone who says other(wise). You being other, not wise…and quite probable to not even have a pulse now. What’s wrong? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost? Light this joint. It could change the way you see forever. Let me light it for you. Your hands are trembling. Breath deeply. Cause we aren’t going anywhere…Ever again.

  5. Mary Jane on

    Silly? Tracing and descending and evolving? My my, you speak of languages like they’re your distant relatives. Ask a man of God about Latin. He will tell you it’s a dead language. And to that, you would probably break down in tears thinking you’ve lost again. You would be right. You see…dead is literal…because the language in it’s form is no longer spoken. And to that, you would say, yeah but Latin has transgressed and is integral in many other languages. True. But does not exist in it’s original essence. So to people who know what they are talking about – It is dead.

    Modern, mistranslated – Greatly Misunderstood by the ignorant. Do you know where you fit in Mr. Anonymous? History 101 has a new teacher…And guess what book were cracking into first…Oh, and while your getting schooled – We are going to brush you up on the English language too. It is perfection. So Stop Abusing It…Seriously.

  6. Anonymous on

    The “bible” wasn’t written before English existed. Don’t be silly! All languages evolved from older, related (obviously) languages; English, for example, can be traced to Old English (which was a mix of Danish, German, Frisian and even Norman later), which is also a direct descendant of the older Continental Germanic languages. To say that a modern mistranslated, overly abused, book commonly called the “bible” was ‘written’ before English was even around is completely ignorant (of history, that is).

  7. MJ on

    22 For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
    23 And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things.

    To The Romans – The Holy Bible
    Translated From The Latin Vulgate

    * And on a side note to the raving lunatic…what the F are you smokin’…cause whatever it is – It should be outlawed. The illiterate make it so easy to tear through. Open a book. And if you still can’t see the crown….well keep reading, but let’s just say, this isn’t looking good for you. Check mate.

  8. Anonymous on

    nice angle on the bible. Do you know any verses off hand?

  9. Anonymous on

    I dont quite get what he was saying either??

    Nicely put Mary Jane

  10. Anonymous on

    When will these little crack sodden idiots stop posting their illiterate babble online.
    FFS…can you even figure out what being written above? Besides the the hate of Canada (Spelled correctly BTW.)

  11. Anonymous on

    What we tell you! We dont need any press from abunch of british slaves STAY THE FUCK OUT OF OUR THING!! WE DO NOT WANT TO BE COTTECT TO A LOSER LIKE YOU AND YOUR PEOPLE!! Our plan works and your doesnt!! You and your failed movement subject is NOT NOR EVER BE PART OF US HERE!! Go to your cage quitey we dont want you to ever print on us again you do? we will come pay you a vist fuck you kanada your nO SO. CALI.!! and NECER WILL BE!! Like they say here in cali about you all?…. Canada?.. There sooo GAY! enough said Death to the crown and all who follows it!

  12. Mary Jane on

    One of his creations, absolutely. What books are these religious nuts reading lately? Apparently not the bible. When herb is mentioned again and again do these dingbats think He was taking about parsley? And think of the real big picture here people – the bible was written before English existed. So with scholars working diligently at translation, “herb” is the best thing they could come up with? Coincidence? I think not. I think it’s time for all marijuana and human freedom supporters to start carrying a bible for reference. He did write it for Us. Not to be “used” by them. Bet they never thought all that preaching would come back to bite em in the ass. Some people just aren’t too bright. Luckily, most of us are. God Blesses You…and wants you to get high. Reach out and smoke faith.

  13. Anonymous on

    Thats kind of funny that religious groups are on the anti cannabis fight. Isn’t that kind of an oxymoron? I have no religion but would have to ask… Wouldn’t your GOD smite you for judging one of his creations? Whats it going to be hyprocrites?