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California To Vote On Marijuana Legalization

California voters will have the choice of legalizing recreational marijuana for their state on the November ballot. An initiative titled California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) has acquired enough signatures to merit a referendum.

On June 28, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that the initiative had accrued more than 606,000 petition signatures, hitting the threshold for ballot consideration. In the November election, Californians will have the choice of legalizing recreational use.

AUMA has had the considerable backing of Facebook co-founder Sean Parker. The initiative has raised $3.53 million in funds while the opposition campaign has only raised $166,000, The Sacramento Bee reports.

“Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself,” said AUMA spokesman Jason Kinney in an official statement.

If the initiative passes, licensed retail outlets would be legally allowed to sell an ounce of marijuana to customers aged 21 and older. Marijuana-infused products would also be for sale and state residents would be allowed to cultivate a maximum of six marijuana plants for their own use, ABC News reports.

The sale of marijuana products would have an attached 15 percent excise tax. California officials have estimated that recreational legalization could potentially raise $1 billion per yer for state revenue and slash tens of millions in law enforcement costs.

Marijuana smoking would still be subjected to the same standards as tobacco and be prohibited in enclosed public spaces.

AUMA has been endorsed by the California NAACP, the California Medical Association, and the California Democratic Party, which noted that legalization would be a huge boon to minority communities, who face a disproportionate amount of arrests for marijuana use.

The California Republican Party and the Teamsters Union have opposed AUMA, their disapproval joined by state police chiefs and hospital associations.

“The dangers of marijuana are pretty clear in terms of motorist safety, criminal activity, impacts on society,” said legislative director Cory Salzillo of the California State Sheriffs’ Association. “We don’t believe that decriminalization will upend the black market.”

Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996. State voters rejected Proposition 10, a ballot initiative similar to AUMA, in 2010. However, the new initiative has received more political support and is a more fully fleshed-out proposal.

In May, the Public Policy Institute of California polled likely state voters on the issue and found that 60 percent of respondents were in favor of recreational legalization while only 37 percent were opposed.

Sources: ABC News, Public Policy Institute of California, The Sacramento Bee / Photo credit: Dank Depot/Flickr

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