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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)

The war against drugs was built on the faulty assumption that a society without drugs is possible, one has never existed and never will. All arguments that can be made against marijuana could easily be made against alcohol or cigarettes, or for that matter pharmaceuticals (have you seen some of their side effects!?). To address "I hate narcotics" why don't we just not smoke? because we are free men and should be able to. I'll go further and ask do you never touch alcohol, cigarettes, or caffeine? If you do why can't you just stop? The hypocrisy that will stem from the opponents of this bill would be hilarious if it didn't resemble tyranny so closely.

It seems obvious that now that the weed smoking baby boomers are becoming the older generation everyone now smokes pot. Can't criminalize the entire population.

i have bin smoking pot sence i was 13. i am now 17 and in those 4 years i have bin caught. persecuted. and steped on bye not only nonsmokers but the feds. now is the time. legalize tha ganja

If this passes the income boom to CA would be incredible.
And why not? People are smoking and ingesting it all over the place and most of the folks getting rich should pay taxes.
Plus we'd have a lot less waste of law enforcement cutting down 'weeds' when they could be dealing with serious crimes.

1. We are going broke in California. We need the billions for the people.

2. Alcohol is much more dangerous, makes people violent, and is worse for your body.

3. Law enforcement should man up and go after real crimes against people, and not peace loving people who want to relax in their homes.

4. Take the ability to make money away from the gangs.

5. Lowers your blood pressure and relieves depression better than some medicines, and works better than Viagra.

Thank God!
It was about time we at least try.
If it does work we will be seeing Cannabis going legal worldwide in about 20 years or less. Of course places like Indonesia, China, and other crazy Asian communist countries will not do that NEVER. But expect Latin and Western countries legalizing it if it does work in California. The world tries to copy California.

United States
New Zealand
Australia and some European countries will be the first one's to follow.


I don't know why smoking weed is so taboo to some people. Im sure if they tried it once they would have a much clearer view of why people smoke it. And legalization would pass with almost no opposition.

When Nevada legalized gambling everyone thought that the feds would interfere. How long ago was that? I don't think this will be an issue.

People look at what your putting in the comments, i have gone through these 4 pages and was outraged. For the the people opposing it, it WILL help the California's economy and will surely free alot of space in jails for real crime. Smoking pot is natural its the most harmless recreational drug we could use unlike alcohol and tobacco. For the others saying this bill isnt clear look what it says "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" which means every state could be different and the country wouldnt just be on big pot field, understandably states would lower the amount of pot you can grow and use for personal use. The over 21 rule seems completely fit as thats an age when you can truly make clear decisions and decide if you want to spend your weekend at home relaxing and enjoying yourself without having to go out and get completely smashed, throw up everywhere, and slowly kill yourself. I am completely for legalizing it, it would not only help CA economy but when other states see how useful the plant can be, such as rope, paper, oil, food than they will join in as well giving the entire country a economical boost! Please for all the stoners posting , make a valid argument just posting a comment saying "YEAH LEGALIZ THE GANJA SO WE CANZ ALL GET HIGHHHHHHHH" will push the legalization of the plant even further and give a bad impression on the amazing plant. Thank you

i lovee weed!
just dont leaglize it..
the cost will go up!

Most of the arguments against weed only exist because it is illegal. The fact that it has been known in highschool helath classrooms throughout america as a "gateway drug" is an incredibly poor argument agianst legalization. Weed only leads to harder drugs if the individual so chooses, and this choice is even harder to follow through with if weed is legal because they are often exposed to these harder drugs by a dealer. Weed has also lead to a large number of US arrests and is costing a larger amount in tax dollars to fund the war on drugs, which ultimately does nothing to weed but make it more dangerous for consumers. Harsh laws for dealers may stop some from participating in the drug game, but there is still a demand, and so someone will almost always be there to take their place. these replacements will not only inflate the price to meet the demand, but are often more violent. By continuing to deal, they show a disregard for the law, as all people who smoke weed in th U.S. do, but these people are oftentimes more violent, as they are willing to take great risk for high profit. Indeed serious deelers are against the legalization of weed, for it would put them out of work, or atleast take a large chunk of their income. Industrial hemp is also important to keep in mind. It's thc levels are below 1%, making it unsuitable for smoking. It produced higher quality paper then wood, longer lasting clothes then most materials, is an ideal crop for biofuel, and can be grown easily.


there isnt anything wrong with smoking marijuana ex in order to od on marijuana you would have to smoke 1500 pounds of marijuana in 15 minutes and that seems impossible to do

I'd rather by Marijuana from 711 pay a tax on it then buy it from criminals....Marijuana is NOT a lethal drug and has been proven that it is more dangerous then alcohol. It’s a scientific fact that marijuana is not toxic to the human body. Their has not been one recorded death due to marijuana overdose. Yet tobacco and alcohol use has killed millions of people.

Sell addicts pot to fix the economy...haha...that makes me laugh. I guess those addicts could be compared to alcholics, though, and alcohol is legal. That's a good point.

I'd be interested in research about medical marijuana; if it has legitimate medical uses, maybe we should legalize it, as medicine under careful supervision.

This is terrible. This is WRONG! This ia a mistake. More bad than good will come from this. You will see...

"I could see a ton of problems related to enforcing the 25 foot square footage allowance for personal use... (who knew 25 sq ft was needed for one person's consumption?!... wink... wink), but it'll sure dent the profits of the mexican cartels... but for real reform, we need the federal govt to act"

If you grow that much, you'll also get your own profits dented when I sue you in Civil court for the public nuisance you'll be maintaining due to the overwhelming stench that robs me of my unalienable right to use and enjoy my own property.

Grow within 1000 feet of a school in a drug free school zone and you can expect a visit from the DEA.

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