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Marijuana legalization initiative headed for 2010 ballot, organizers say

Supporters of an initiative that would legalize marijuana in California say they have collected enough signatures to ensure that it will be on the November 2010 ballot.

The petition drive, which was run by a professional signature-gathering firm, collected more than 680,000 signatures, 57% more than the 433,971 valid signatures needed to put it on the ballot, said Richard Lee, the measure's main proponent.

"It was so easy to get them," Lee said. "People were so eager to sign."

The initiative would also allow cities and counties to adopt their own laws to allow marijuana to be grown and sold, and the localities could impose taxes on any aspect of marijuana production and sales. It would make it legal for adults over 21 years old to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow it in a 25-square-foot area for personal use.

It is one of four initiatives circulating that aim to legalize marijuana use.

Lee, who owns Coffeeshop Blue Sky, Oaksterdam University and other pot-related businesses, said he has spent at least $1.1 million so far to put the measure before California voters. He said he expects the campaign to cost between $7 million and $20 million, depending on how much opponents spend. He said he hopes to raise most of that from marijuana legalization supporters across the country and he has already set up an Internet fundraising operation.

"We feel like we've done our part," he said.

Polls have shown that a majority of California voters support legalization. A Field Poll taken in mid-April found that 56% of voters in the state and 60% in Los Angeles County want to make legalize and tax pot as a way to help solve the state's fiscal crisis. In October, a poll taken by a nonpartisan firm for the Marijuana Policy Project found 54% support in the county.

A poll taken for the initiative's proponents by EMC Research, an opinion research firm in Seattle, found that 51% of likely voters supported it based on language similar to what will be on the ballot, but support increased to 54% when they were read a more general synopsis.

Some marijuana legalization advocates initially criticized Lee for moving forward with his measure, arguing that they would have a better chance in 2012, a presidential election year.

"I think things have turned our way so much that we have a good chance of winning without having to wait to 2012," Lee said. "This is the time to bring up the issue and talk about it. Who knows what will be going on in 2012?"

Lee said that the increasing acceptance of medical marijuana has changed the political dynamic. Since the Obama administration announced it would not prosecute medical marijuana providers or users who follow state law, hundreds of dispensaries have opened in California.

"Medical marijuana in California has been accepted as legalization in some ways by a lot of the population," he said, noting the widespread awareness that it is easy to get a doctor's recommendation to use it. "To me this is codifying what it happening."

Lee said he did not think that the backlash against dispensaries, which in many cases have flouted local laws by opening in neighborhoods, would have much effect on his campaign. "It's tough to say whether it's more good or bad," he said. "On one hand, you have your bad apples, on the other hand, it shows the need for better regulation."

-- John Hoeffel


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Comments () | Archives (92)

this is awesome - marijuana is much less harmful to individuals and society at large than alcohol. hopefully the california voters will do the right thing and pass this initiative. legalize and tax it, and watch our economy improve!

When this article says the law "would make it legal for adults over 21 years old to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow it in a 25-square-foot area for personal use," does that mean 21 years and older or over 21 years(22 years and older)?

As long as most of the marijuana stores will be in Brentwood, Beverly Hills, and Bel Air, I'm for it!

As someone who fully supports the end of the prohibition on marijuana, until it is legalized Federally, legalization in California will be a double-edged sword.

Although the plant has its medicinal uses and, in all honesty, a generally positive effect for those who use it for others means, may it be creativity or pleasure, this state is sure to see a substantial increase in crime as many of the national and international mass producers and distributors of marijuana now will surely seize on this opportunity in droves to grow here and ship it elsewhere. And living here in Humboldt County, where large criminal organizations have begun to make a foothold, break-ins, violence, and even murder is becoming increasingly a cause for concern here.

I say legalize it and improve our economy. Moralists will say it will increase addicts but there will be no more addicts regardless of it being legal or not. Addiction is not attached to law. What it will do is give agriculture a boost, manufacturing, transportation, and it can bring in revenue that state needs.

Richard Lee says that the medical marijuana mess shows the need for more regulation - and then he writes a legalization ballot initiative that has very little regulation. (And even worse, leaves regulation to the cities, which have shown they don't know how to handle things.) Well, that certainly sounds like a recipe for disaster. Hey, how about if I promote a ballot initiative that says every single person can open a bar/nightclub in their home and sell liquor 24 hours a day? Wouldn't that be just groovy?

LEGALIZE IT LEGALIZE IT!!!! Its time to stop criminalizing this and let it become law, just like alcohol. It is time, times are changing, more and more people are smoking. It would be a travesty to arrest someone who is peaceful and minding their business but not arresting some real hard core criminal on the streets. In the other countries its legal, Holland, Spain, etc. The crime rate after legalization is almost non existent, crimes drop dramatically. Why because once legalize it becomes not an issues, like alcohol. It becomes not a big deal ( who cares) to the population.

I am a college educated young professional, grew up some what conservative, I support this 100%. Legalize it Californians!

If it's legal to drink alcohol then it makes no sense to make marijuana illegal. I mean ask yourself this question, who would you rather run into in an ally? A drunk or a pot head? Who would you rather have as a neighbor? I mean half of our population smokes weed anyways so why not earn some tax dollars out of it? It sure would save us a ton in jail and court costs...


yes! Go California go!

It's about time THE PEOPLE got a say in the matter. If it does pass, I suspect the Gov't will try and put a stop to what THE PEOPLE have said and want. I thought our Gov't was working for us...not the other way around. But we'll have to vote, wait, and see...


I am a 51 year old male consistently stupefied by the arcane legal system we must live with in this country. I was in high school in the mid-seventies. Yes, Alice I did inhale. Deeply. How many thousands upon thousands of souls do we incarcerate before we see through the smoke and mirrors? It seems as if every few years a new initiative comes down the pike for legalization. Must we be slapped silly to retake our rights? To the People, for the People, by the People ! I'm not saying it's a right to smoke marijuana. What I am saying is when we see an injustice, and have the power to change the things we can; and don't we are espousing the very tyranny that got us here in the first place. Let California be the first to truly legalize it. Perhaps the powers in place would lose too much in the form of governmental subsidies for prisoners, back-pocket police and the like. Marijuana has many uses, maybe the best is to open our eyes; instead of blurring the lines.

Put the real crooks (mafia-gang foreign affiliates) behind bars instead.

Legalize It ! Please..

So much for our move to become a smoke-free society. pffft....

If only it wasn't for that pesky federal law (21 U.S.C. § 811) and the Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Raich, which upheld the federal government's ban on marijuana. I suppose people forget that federal law trumps state law, which trumps county ordinances, which trumps municipal ordinances.

I'm quite sorry however, even if approved by the voters, it will not last a constitutional muster. A federal court will have no choice but to overturn this and the Supreme Court will surely back the lower courts decisoin to do so.

And all this at an enormous cost to the taxpayer. If you want to win this battle, you must start at the top.

So this is to make it legal for anyone, not just for medicinal use? The question I have is under the current medicinal regulations you are allowed to possess up to 8 ounces; how will this current proposal affect the medicinal law?

Its about time!

who do i make my donation out to?

Great news ! California will lead the way for the rest of the country, and prove how lucrative the legal sale to adults can be. The jobs, investor profits, income tax. state sales tax, and taxes to localities will all boost California's sagging coffers. And electing Jerry Brown Governor will help matters tremendously.

Go for it, California !!!

Either legalize pot, or make alcohol illegal

Im doing a persuasive speech for my english class about legalizing marijuana,and i am also including the Rastafari beliefs. Rastafari's believe that marijuana is used in their religion to have more spiritual enlightenments and to get closer to Jah.
Rastafari is a real religion. They believe in God,and they read the Bible. And in the Bible it says "Better is a dinner of herb where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith." Proverbs 15:17
The use of marijuana is in the Bible! Why do people think it is so wrong when God himself recommended it in the Holy Book?

It's time to legalize,and legalize now!

It doesn't sound like this initiative was well written if it doesn't include more regulations and state taxes ... kind of asking for a disaster which will slow down the national movement. Maybe now the legistrature will be motivated to write a more comprehensive bill to settle these issues and give it a greater chance of success.

Most of the good points have already been made. I would like to add that not only would it add tax revenue, but it would reduce huge annual costs associated with the arrest/trial/incarceration of marijuana offenders (the most harmless people imaginable). What does that also mean? Less jury duty! One other tidbit I'd like to add since it shows how utterly ridiculous this situation is to begin with: The argument for originally making marijuana illegal in the first place was that it caused blacks to become violent and rape white women. Let's go, California!! It's 2010!!

Finally, people won't have to hide their pot in the national forest!

This will have my vote!

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