[THS] California Will Vote on Legalization of Marijuana in
psalience at fastmail.fm
Thu Mar 25 18:39:51 CET 2010
Pubdate: Thu, 25 Mar 2010
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Page: 1A, Front Page
Copyright: 2010 The Sacramento Bee
Contact: opinion at sacbee.com
Cited: Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act http://www.taxcannabis.org/
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?115 (Cannabis - California)
CALIFORNIA WILL VOTE ON LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA IN NOVEMBER
California's raucous argument over legalizing marijuana is headed to
Secretary of State Debra Bowen confirmed Wednesday that voters will
decide in November whether to legalize and tax marijuana use for
Californians 21 and over.
As a result, Californians will weigh in on whether legalization is an
appropriate next step to medical use of marijuana that voters approved in 1996.
In recent years, hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries have
sprouted in California communities. Their presence is a vast
departure from the attitudes of voters who roundly rejected a 1972
initiative Proposition 18 that first set out to decriminalize pot use
in the Golden State.
Proponents of the "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010"
say the measure's passage could hinge on voters' acceptance of
marijuana's potential to rescue California's beleaguered fiscal coffers.
California's annual pot crop is worth about $14 billion, according to
the State Board of Equalization. It estimates that legalization and
taxation could bring in up to $1.4 billion in revenue.
"The perspective of California has shifted since 1972," said Jeff
Jones, co-sponsor of the 2010 initiative. "This (pot legalization)
was stigmatized as a flower-power, counterculture issue. But we have
people today who don't believe the hype and fear. A broad, diverse
base sees this as a real budget issue for California."
But the measure could bring the state into conflict with federal authorities.
Marijuana has been prohibited under federal law since 1937.
California's approval of medical use in 1996 led to a series of
federal raids on pot dispensaries and patient-run growing collectives.
Recently, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced he wouldn't
target medical pot users or medicinal growers in states where
medicinal use of the drug is legal.
John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California Peace Officers
Association, which is organizing opposition to the measure, said
Californians will draw the line against legalizing pot for widespread
"I knew it was going to qualify. That's not surprising," Lovell said.
"But qualifying is the first step toward losing. We intend to simply
tell the truth about everything this product will do, and we will win."
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown on Wednesday came out
against the measure, putting him on the same side of the issue as Meg
Whitman, the leading GOP candidate.
The pot measure was certified for the Nov. 2 ballot after a sample
count of petition signatures from 58 counties indicated the measure
had well more than 477,369 valid voter signatures required to qualify
by random sampling.
The petition drive to qualify the measure was heavily funded by
businesses of an Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur, Richard Lee.
Lee, whose ventures include Oaksterdam University, a marijuana
advocacy and trade school, and Oakland's Blue Sky dispensary, gave
nearly $1.3 million to the legalization effort.
But the medical pot community may be split on legalization. In
Humboldt County, growers who provide marijuana for medical
dispensaries held a meeting this week to discuss whether they could
afford to operate in an era of full legalization.
The initiative would allow California residents to grow pot in a
5-foot-by-5-foot household space and to possess or transport up to 1 ounce.
Stephen Gasparas, who grows medical marijuana at a warehouse in
Shasta County, said legalization will cut the price of prime
California pot to about $2,400 a pound half the current market rate.
With a proposed $50 per ounce state levy on retail pot sales,
Gasparas worried that current medical growers won't earn enough to
"cover their electric bills, rent and time."
"The growers are going to get a little over $1,000 and it costs
$1,000 to make a pound" of smokable marijuana, said Gasparas, who
also runs the iCenter dispensary in Arcata "It's not going to work
out. I've crunched the numbers."
Jones said legalization proponents will assure "medical cannabis
professionals" they can survive and thrive in an age of legalization.
He said the measure will otherwise put drug dealers out of business.
The ballot measure comes as Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco,
is pushing a legalization bill in the Legislature to give the state
Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control authority to tax and
regulate pot like liquor.
John Redman, executive director of the San Diego-based California
Alliance for Drug Free Youth, said opponents will wage aggressive
challenges on both fronts.
"There are groups and organizations ready to fight this," he said.
"They have awoken a sleeping giant."
Max Del Real, a Sacramento lobbyist representing medical marijuana
dispensaries and related industries, said taxing and legalizing
"California's No. 1 cash crop" will bring full "legitimacy" to the
pot trade and "erase the black market" for recreational use.
"This is about adults having the opportunity to make a decision on
how they recreate," Del Real said. "It's about free choice."
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