California Marijuana Measure Set for 2010 Vote, Supporters Say

December 16, 2009 — A ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use in California has received enough signatures to place it before voters next year, organizers said.

The “Tax, Regulate and Control Cannabis Act of 2010” has garnered 680,000 signatures, more than the 433,971 required to be placed on the state’s ballot, said Salwa Ibrahim, a spokeswoman for the measure’s sponsor, Oaksterdam University in Oakland, which bills itself as “America’s first cannabis college.”

“We’re going to keep collecting signatures until we have to turn it in,” before the February deadline, Ibrahim said in an interview today. “They’re from all over the state of California.”

The measure, which must be certified by the secretary of state before it can officially be placed on the ballot, would allow adults 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana and cultivate 25 square feet (2.3 square meters) for personal consumption, Ibrahim said. Cities and counties can decide how and if to tax commercial sales and cultivation.

“So for instance, in a Danville or Alamo, if they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, we do not want dispensaries or any of that in our communities,’ that’s fine, they don’t have to have it,” she said. “But a place like Oakland, where we desperately need the revenue, it would be a perfect fit.”

A Field Poll conducted in April showed that 56 percent of registered voters in California supported legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Health Reasons

California is one of 14 states allowing some marijuana use for health reasons, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Oakland voters this year approved a measure making their city the first in the U.S. to tax it.

In October, the state assembly’s Public Safety Commission discussed the social, fiscal and legal implications of legalizing and regulating the drug like alcohol. It was the first time the issue had been considered by the Legislature since the ban on marijuana use went into effect in 1913.

California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a separate marijuana legalization bill in February, that, if passed, would add $1.34 billion to California’s annual revenue based on sales tax and a $50-an-ounce excise levy, according to the state’s tax administrator, the Board of Equalization. The bill will have its first policy hearing in January.

Obama’s Policy

Nationally, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department told federal prosecutors on Oct. 19 not to seek criminal charges against those who use or supply the drug for medical purposes in accordance with state laws, reversing the previous Bush administration approach.

The federal guidelines don’t legalize marijuana. The Justice Department will focus its resources on “serious drug traffickers while taking into account state and local laws,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

The Bush administration had said it would pursue charges in medical marijuana cases, even in those states.

Marijuana, produced from the cannabis plant, can be smoked or ingested. Its recreational use is illegal in the U.S.

The signatures collected will be sent to county election officials to count and verify, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. The measure would then be certified and placed on the ballot.

By Ryan Flinn. Source.

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