California Could Become The Third U.S. State To Legalize Marijuana
At least two of three marijuana legalization measures vying for the November 2014 ballot would be good for California, according to the state Attorney General's office.
The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act would decrease drug enforcement costs and increase tax revenue, Attorney General Kamala Harris said this week:
That initiative recently ran into a speed bump and might be cutting it close to a Feb. 28 deadline to file enough signatures to quality for the ballot.
Dave Hodges, a San Jose marijuana dispensary owner who's a key backer of the proposed initiative, says organizers with Americans for Policy Reform are still aiming for that deadline.
"If we can get the funding we're searching for the signature gathering can be done in two to three weeks," he told us. "We're still aiming for 2014 election."
Harris approved the group's last "title summary," a document that's needed in order to show potential signatories what they're endorsing, but her office would need to do it again, likely by Jan. 31, Hodges said.
The glitch? The former language of the proposed initiative says those under 21 "may" be prohibited from using weed. It should say "shall." That's being fixed, but it's a setback.
The Attorney General otherwise had nice things to say about the initiative in her summary this week:
Reduced costs in the low hundreds of millions of dollars 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. Potential net additional tax revenues in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually related to the production and sale of marijuana, a portion of which is required to be spent on education, health care, public safety, drug abuse education and treatment, and the regulation of commercial marijuana activities.
That's not an endorsement. It's just her office's read on the initiative's potential effects.
Another proposed legalization initiative, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014, got its summery way back in September and thus would appear to be ahead in this game.
Harris' office had nearly identical things to say about it, namely that it would reduce enforcement costs and increase state revenues.
A third potential initiative creeped up on us this month. Organizers submitted what they're calling "The Control, Regulate and Tax Marijuana Act" to the Attorney General for title and summary approval Dec. 5 and then again on Dec. 18 to reflect revisions.
The Drug Policy Alliance is behind this one, a DPA spokesman told us.
Given its late start it's not clear if the third initiative will get momentum in time for the November election, although the DPA does have some serious resources.
If at least one of these gets on the ballot, we could become the third state, behind Colorado and Washington, to fully legalize it.