#422 Californians To Vote To Legalize Marijuana

Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2009
Subject: #422 Californians To Vote To Legalize Marijuana

CALIFORNIANS TO VOTE TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA

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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #422 – Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Today newspapers across California are printing articles about the
initiative which will be on the November, 2010 ballot for voters to
consider legalizing marijuana.

Details about the initiative may be found at the initiative website
http://www.taxcannabis.org/

Below is the article about the initiative from the state’s largest
circulation newspaper.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s article is at http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v09.n1117.a05.html

Additional articles about California and marijuana, now and in the
months ahead, are found at http://www.mapinc.org/find?115

Many may be appropriate targets for your letters to the
editor.

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Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)

Page: A12

Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times

Contact: http://drugsense.org/url/bc7El3Yo

Author: John Hoeffel

Cited: The Tax & Regulate Cannabis Initiative http://www.taxcannabis.org/
Cited: California NORML http://www.canorml.org/
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?115 (Cannabis – California)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/people/Richard+Lee

MEASURE TO LEGALIZE POT MAY BE ON NOV. 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.”

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Prepared by: Richard Lake, Senior Editor http://www.mapinc.org

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