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Nov. Ballot Historic, Could End Marijuana Prohibition

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By Paul Armentano

The November election is shaping up to be one of the most important in modern history as it pertains to the struggle to end marijuana prohibition.

Voters in several states will have the opportunity this fall to decide on ballot measures to significantly reform their state or municipal marijuana laws. To date, the following initiatives have been certified to appear on the November ballot:

California: In what is arguably the most significant marijuana law reform measure in several decades, California voters will decide on The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. The measure would allow adults 21 years or older to possess, share or transport up to one ounce of cannabis for personal consumption, and to cultivate the plant in an area of not more than twenty-five square feet per private residence. (Read the full text here.) The act would also permit local governments to authorize the retail sale of marijuana or the commercial cultivation of cannabis to adults and to impose taxes on such sales. Personal marijuana cultivation or not-for-profit sales of marijuana would not be taxed under the measure, nor would it alter or amend any aspect of the California Health and Safety code pertaining to the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

According to the most recent statewide poll on the issue, Californians support the measure 49 percent to 41 percent.

South Dakota: South Dakota voters will decide this November on Measure 13, The South Dakota Safe Access Act — which would exempt state criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana or six plants by authorized patients. (Read the full text here.) If enacted, South Dakota would become the fifteenth state since 1996 to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

Oregon: Voters are anticipated to decide this November on a statewide measure to authorize the creation of non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries, which would be legally able to distribute cannabis provided by private growers. (Read the full text here.) Proponents of the measure turned in over 110,000 signatures in favor of the act to the Secretary of State Elections Division in May, and are awaiting certification.

In 2009, Maine voters became the first to approve a ballot measure authorizing medical marijuana dispensaries. Oregon voters initially approved the legalization of medical marijuana in 1998.

Arizona: Election officials on Tuesday affirmed that proponents of a statewide ballot measure to allow for authorized patients to possess and purchase medical cannabis from state-licensed facilities has qualified for the 2010 November ballot. (Read the full text here.) Under the proposed measure, state-registered patients would be permitted to obtain cannabis legally from licensed dispensaries. Authorized patients who do not have a facility in their local area (defined as within 25 miles of their residence) would be permitted under the law to cultivate their own cannabis for medicinal purposes. Other patients would not be allowed to grow their own marijuana.

The ballot measure is sponsored by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, an affiliate of the Marijuana Policy Project.

Detroit, Michigan: Detroit citizens are expected vote this November on a municipal measure to prohibit the criminal prosecution of adults who possess minor amounts of marijuana. If enacted, the measure would amend the Detroit City Code to remove criminal penalties for “the use or possession of less then one ounce of marijuana, on private property, by anyone who has attained the age of 21 years.” Voters have previously enacted similar municipal measures in several other cities, including Denver, Colorado.

Washington: Sensible Washington proponents continue to collect signatures in favor of I-1068, which would remove state civil and criminal penalties for persons eighteen years or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana. (Read the full text here.) To qualify the act for the November ballot, supporters must turn over 241,000 valid signatures by July 2, 2010.

According to a poll of 1,252 registered voters conducted last week, 52 percent of adults support the measure, and only 35 percent oppose it.

Oregon: Proponents of The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) must turn in over 110,000 signatures by July 2 to qualify the measure for the November 2010 ballot. OCTA seeks to permit the state-licensed production and sale of marijuana to adults. Oregon NORML is sponsoring the campaign, and is seeking volunteers here.

NORML will continue to keep you updated as additional statewide or municipal ballot proposals qualify to the November ballot.


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