Drug Law

California Marijuana Initiative One Step Closer to Ballot

| by NORML

By Paul Armentano

As a general rule, NORML tends not to publicize or comment on ballot initiative drives — including campaigns we are involved in — until they have officially qualified for the ballot. But in this case, we (and the mainstream media) just couldn’t resist.

Pot Measure One Step Closer to California Ballot
via CBS.com

An initiative to make marijuana legal, and open to local taxation and regulation, is one step closer to getting on the California ballot this November.

Backers of the initiative on Thursday turned in nearly 700,000 signatures to state officials to place the measure on the state ballot, according to reports — far more than the 433,971 valid signatures required. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has until June 24 to certify the initiative, the Sacramento Bee reports.

The measure, if approved by voters, would allow anyone over 21 years old to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or grow plants within a limited space for personal use. It would also allow local jurisdictions to tax and regulate it.

[Author's Note: There is a clause in the initiative that allows for municipalities, if they desire to do so, to establish regulations governing the retail distribution and sale of cannabis. Personal, non-commercial possess or cultivation of marijuana would not be subject to taxation under this initiative.]

… An April Field Poll found that 56 percent of California voters supported legalizing marijuana, and Mark DiCamillo, the poll’s director, said the initiative had a 50 percent chance of passing, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Next week, proponents of a statewide measure to legalize medical marijuana in South Dakota will also turn in signatures to the Secretary of State’s office to place the proposal on the November 2010 ballot. Petitioners claim that they possess nearly twice the number of signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot.

Separate ballot drives are under way in several other states, including Washington and Oregon.