Legalization Initiatives Filed in CA

Two marijuana legalization initiatives are currently collecting signatures for the 2010 ballot in California.

(1) The California Cannabis Initiative, sponsored by Joe Rogoway, Omar Figueroa and James J. Clark, (Withdrawn 2/4/2010) and

(2) The Tax and Regulate Cannabis California Initiative, sponsored by Richard Lee, Jeff Jones, and Oaksterdam University.

(A third initiative, the Common Sense Act of 2010, sponsored by Californians for Common Sense in Long Beach, has also been submitted but is not presently circulating.)

The CCI is pursuing a volunteer grass-roots campaign, while the Tax and Regulate Cannabis 2010 initiative says it expects to qualify for the ballot with the assistance of paid signature-gatherers.

Reformers are split on the merits of the initiatives. The CCI is regarded to be the more liberal, since it abolishes current penalties for marijuana possession, sales and production, and expunges convictions of former offenders. However, critics are concerned that the voters will not support expungement of prior offenses. In addition, the legislative analyst's office has indicated that some of the provisions in CCI may be unconstitutionally vague.

The Tax and Regulate 2010 initiative would not completely legalize marijuana but would establish a system of local option. Statewide, it would legalize personal use possession of up to one ounce of marijuana along with home cultivation of up to 25 square feet. Local county and city governments could authorize more, including legalizing adult use sales and commercial production altogether. However, critics object that the initiative would leave too many criminal penalties in place, including stiff felony penalties for sales to minors. In addition, the initiative would make it illegal for adults to smoke marijuana in the presence of children, something that is not currently against the law.

California NORML is not funding any initiatives at present, judging that 2010 is premature for a successful initiative campaign. In order to develop a more politically viable proposal, California NORML is strongly backing Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's path-breaking legalization bill AB 390 in the state legislature. Supporters who wish to petition for the initiatives are invited to contact their campaigns through their websites.

A.G.'s title and summaries:

Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative (Oaksterdam) http://www.taxcannabis2010.org
CHANGES CALIFORNIA LAW TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA AND ALLOW IT TO BE REGULATED AND TAXED. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Permits local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old. Maintains current prohibitions against driving while impaired. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Savings of up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Unknown but potentially major tax, fee, and benefit assessment revenues to state and local government related to the production and sale of marijuana products. (09-0024.)

Common Sense Act http://www.grasstax.org.
CHANGES CALIFORNIA LAW TO LEGALIZE, REGULATE, AND TAX MARIJUANA. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Repeals state laws that make it a crime for people to use, possess, sell, cultivate, or transport marijuana. Requires the Legislature to adopt laws regulating and taxing marijuana within one year of passage. Allows local governments to also tax the manufacture, sale, and use of marijuana. Bars state and local governments from spending money to enforce laws prohibiting the use, possession, sale, cultivation, or transportation of
marijuana. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Savings in the several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Unknown but potentially major new excise, income, and sales tax revenues related to the manufacture and sale of marijuana products. (09-0025.)

California Cannabis Initiative http://californiacannabisinitiative.org
CHANGES CALIFORNIA LAW TO LEGALIZE, REGULATE, AND TAX MARIJUANA. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Repeals state laws that make it a crime for people 21 years old or older to use, possess, sell, cultivate, or transport marijuana or industrial hemp, except laws that make it a crime to drive while impaired or to contribute to the delinquency of a minor. Expunges state convictions based on the repealed marijuana-related laws. Requires state and local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana. Requires taxes to be spent on education, healthcare,
environmental programs, public works, and state parks. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Savings in the several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Unknown but potentially major new excise, income, and sales tax revenues related to the production and sale of marijuana products. (09-0022.)