CA Cities Campaign for Adult Use of Marijuana

The statewide campaign to reform laws against adult use of marijuana is picking up steam. On November 7th, three cities ­ Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Santa Monica, will be voting on initiatives declaring private adult marijuana offenses "lowest law enforcement priority."

In San Francisco, Sup. Tom Ammiano is sponsoring a similar "lowest priority" measure modeled after Oaklandšs successful Measure Z initiative of 2004. Like Measure Z, the San Francisco measure calls for changes in state law to legally tax and regulate marijuana. It also directs city law enforcement officers not to cooperate with federal law enforcement efforts that violate the cityšs policy.

Last June, the West Hollywood city council approved a "low priority" measure sponsored by council member John Duran.

The California cities campaign is backed by a coalition of groups including California NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, and others. For details, see

Proponents argue that marijuana enforcement wastes money that would be better spent on more serious problems. In 2004, California recorded 13,106 felony and 46,931 misdemeanor marijuana arrests, at an estimated cost of over $150 million. Some 1,400 inmates are in state prison for marijuana offenses, over 14 times as many as in 1980. African-Americans are overrepresented among marijuana prisoners by a factor of five.

The campaign is intended to encourage lawmakers in Sacramento to consider bolder marijuana reform measures. This November, two states will be voting on ballot initiatives to legalize adult use of marijuana. Coloradošs Amendment 44, the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative, would eliminate all state penalties for possession of one ounce of marijuana by adults aged 21 or over. Nevadašs Question 7 would remove all penalties for adult marijuana use and seek to create a legally taxed and regulated distribution system, while tightening penalties for DUI and sales to minors. California NORML is investigating whether similar measures are feasible in California.

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