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Marijuana legalization backers hand in initiative petitions


Supporters of legalized marijuana announced today that they have gathered about 700,000 signatures for their initiative, virtually guaranteeing voters will see it on the November ballot.

They plan to turn in the petitions today to elections officials in some of the state's major counties, including Los Angeles. Supporters need 433,971 valid signatures to qualify the measure.

The measure’s main proponent, Richard Lee, a highly successful Oakland marijuana entrepreneur, bankrolled a professional signature-gathering effort that was bolstered by volunteers from the state’s hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries.

“This is a historic first step toward ending cannabis prohibition,” Lee said. “I’ve always believed that cannabis should be taxed and regulated and that our current laws aren’t working.”

The initiative, known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act, would make it legal for anyone 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana and grow plants in an area no larger than 25 square feet for personal use. It would also allow cities and counties to permit marijuana to be grown and sold, and to impose taxes on marijuana production and sales.

Four marijuana legalization initiatives have been proposed, but Lee’s is the only one that appears to have the financial support to make the ballot.

Lee's firm, one of the state's most successful marijuana businesses, has spent more than $1 million on the measure and hired professional consultants to run the campaign. Lee owns half a dozen mostly pot-related businesses in Oakland, including Coffeeshop Blue Sky, a medical marijuana dispensary, and Oaksterdam University, which offers classes on marijuana.

Polls have shown growing support nationwide for legalization. In California, a majority favors it. A Field Poll taken last April found that 56% of voters in the state and 60% in Los Angeles County want to make pot legal and tax it. That margin, though, is not enough to assure victory.

The political climate has turned conservative in this non-presidential election year. Some prominent marijuana legalization advocates have questioned whether 2010 was the right year to test whether Californians would again break new ground on drug legalization, as they did in 1996 when they approved marijuana for medical use.

If passed, the initiative would put the state in conflict with federal law. The Obama administration last year announced it would not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries that adhere to California's laws, but it has adamantly opposed efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

-- John Hoeffel

Photo: Howard Dillon, left, unloads boxes of signatures outside the county registrar's office in Norwalk. At right is retired Judge James P. Gray. Dillon delivered 17 boxes holding 143,105 signatures for the marijuana legalization initiative. The boxes were brought inside to be counted. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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Comments () | Archives (165)

yes, right now there's wide support to legalize marijuana, but don't count your chicken's till they've hatched. Prop 8 was losing widely before the november election and well, we all know what happened next.

I personally don't smoke marijuana but I don't understand for the life of me why people tend to be completely oblivious to the fact that legalizing marijuana will not all of a sudden give people access to this plant that they didn't have already. People wake up! The people that want to smoke it are already doing it! And will continue to do so regardless if it is legal or not. Why not earn money for it. Also, you the tax payer are paying for their addiction when they overcrowd the jail. Besides legalizing it will bring in all sorts of revenue especially for companies like Lay's. : )

Slippery slope arguments are considered "logical fallacies" for a reason. The only arguments the anti-legalization crowd can offer are these sort of unfounded "belief"-based fears which are not supported by the evidence.

Another pot-head wants to make dope dealing legal so he can make money.
Don't kid yourself this doper doesn't give a rats ass about fiscal responsibility
for California.
He is nothing more self proclaim guru, the same kind of jerk wad that believes that if everybody was stoned there would be no war, peace and love will rule the world.
Whats wrong with prostitution? coke? heroin? a little meth? lets by all means
legalize AND collect tax.
If this society is so defective that after allowing political corruption and union kick backs to financially ruin this state we need to legalize a product, that mentally destroys humans ( I have witnessed this first hand), to reline the state tax coffers , then maybe we need (fanatical) Islamic law.
Of course if that happens, Richard Lee and his other dope dealer buddies would end up in a soccer field

Lets legalize cocaine (again) !!!


Are they going to arrest 56% of the people in California? If the majority in a state want something legalized, do you really think the Federal government should have the final say? I think the power should lie with the states on what the states will allow.....just my opinion

Being under the influence of pot is much better than alcohol.You can still drive a car with no impairment, people who say it impairs driving are wrong!If any thing it makes drivers more cautious. Alcohol does the opposite.Pot makes people mellow and peacefull!Alcohol does the opposite!
Personally I think Alcohol should be illegal and pot legal.Think about it there wouldnt be as much domestic violence.There would be far less violence.If a person smoked a joint versus drinking alcohol when they got off work at home maybe they wouldnt beat up there spouse and actually make love not war.
Also it would make our state prisions less crowded and far less costly!
But if they dont legalize it the price for it will stay cheaper per bag than if it is taxed and sold in dispenseries and pot users will still buy it anyways!


Are you joking?

About time. How many lives did the anti-weed laws ruin, sending nice people to jails and prisons?

How would legalizing weed increase crime? This statement is illogical. People currently smoke weed illegally. Making it legal for them to smoke weed would decrease crime! There is nothing about weed that encourages people to commit crime. Only the fear-mongers tell us otherwise. They are the same people who tell us to fear toothless men on camels. The reason a majority of people support legalization of weed is because a majority of people in this country still respect an individual's rights and basic privacy. Thank God! Now, we just need to make Washington do the same thing. Whose government is this, anyway?


Federal law only supercedes IF a state law violates the Federal Constitution.

The pot law isn't in violation of the Federal Constitution, so it becomes a court case where some Federal Judge will have to decide where the Feds get their authority to regulate the substance. Unless the Feds can prove pot is harmful, they're not going to win.

Personally, I'd not favor legalizing pot..... and I refused to sign the petition at the local market..... but if it is legalized as it appears that it will be, then its one less drug that the Mexican Mafia can control and import to our country. Take away the illegality of it like we did with booze in the 1930's, and the drug lords lose their control of the product.

Legalizing pot is the lesser of two evils.

Illegal pot benefits the drug lords.

Legal pot will be abused by teens and adults.... with more car accidents, etc.

Why not legalize it? People get it one way or the other. If they legalize it maybe more control can be had? Perhaps it will open up jobs, and be another revenue for taxes. You want to smoke it? Then pay for the product and be taxed accordingly. As for misuse, Hey, like no one misuses mixed drinks, beer, wine, and prescibed drugs, etc? If you really want to get high there are plently of methods and things to use. Get this stuff out into the light, control it, and let those idiots who want to smoke it to get high to be clearly known via some sort of list method. Bottom line: Its out there. Its being used. Question: Why not admit its there, and have the government control it?


While I have no desire to use it myself, I do see the benefits in legalization
of pot with reasonable constraints.

1) Pot should not be smoked in the general public. Think of this along the
lines of public intoxication. Do it at home or do it in specialized bar/club.

2) Driving under the influence laws still apply.

3) Taxed on sales. Reasonable licensing with penalties along the lines those
for selling alcohol to minors.

What we need to do first is make sure that our representatives know what the
will of the people is. Either for or against, and have them act in unison.

I think what we need to do have the laws regarding marijuana repealed at the
federal level after giving states a suitable period of time to decide what laws
they wish to have regarding it. Really, it should have always been a states
issue and its only via the abuse of the commerce clause that they have been
allowed to come into being.

Benefits of legalization.
1) Redirection of police resources.

2) Removal of revenue source for criminal organizations.
Mexico claims that the problems they suffer come from our "demand" of
the illegal drugs. Well, if its legal, there will be no need for us to import it.

3) Tax revenues as well as jobs for "pot bars" as proposed in my restrictions.

Don't want cannabis legal? Then keep it illegal. Just don't start screaming about drug cartels and back alley drug deals. I often wonder if these prohibitionist are really in the pocket of some drug gang and are trying to protect their pocket change.

I can see no reason why cannabis is still illegal except for inertia. I challenge the prohibitionists to put forth a single reason why cannabis should remain illegal while alcohol maintains its legal status. Emotional arguments and anything with children do not count. Seriously, why is cannabis illegal to begin with? Any prohibitionist want to follow Anslinger's logic? Prepared to defend that reasoning?

And, with polling at 50%, why do we still arrest and incarcerate with such fervor? It really doesn't appear to be what the people want or is working to the ends that the drug warriors want. I don't think that you could get more people using cannabis if you had made its use mandatory.

When's the last time you heard Bud and Miller fighting Coors for distribution routes and store shelf rights?

Legalize and regulate. It's well past time to end cannabis prohibition.

I don't understand the concerns about an uprise in crime? If it's legal people can buy or grow their own supply and won't have to murder for thievery or paranoia. And it will all be kool.
Think about it.
Look at all the mess alcohol makes.
You can drink once the law says it okay then you have to be sure it doesn't make you lie, steal, cheat or murder. You can drink you face off in a restuarant but you can't even walk home without being arrested for "Public Intoxication"!
Please some straighten out this tangled mess!!

We have seen what prohibition does from experience.

We know that cannabis is easier for children to get than alcohol or tobacco.

We know that cannabis is the #1 agricultural industry in California.

We know that countless tax-paying, hard-working Americans choose this inebriant over some more dangerous drugs like alcohol.

The prohibition of this substance over others is hypocritical and results in an invalid basis for putting people in jail.

We have the majority of support; you'll see the sky doesn't fall.

Lets legalize heroin!
We are already in Afghanistan!

legalize it
everyone can get a hold of it
so why not just do it

NO ONE with a rational mind would think to do such a thing, the doctors backing this,attained their degrees at "on line universities?" definition of fishing, by Thomas Jefferson, "fishng is one jerk on the end of a line waiting for another jerk" could this also apply to people who want to legalize marijuana? come on Doctors, get a grip please the country sounds like it is bankrupt, i suppose bankrupt intellectually also, to back such a bill is disaster, but these legislators can see the future, hmmmmm, they sure did not see the unrest taking the annual cost of living would bring, why we don.t have peace in the mideast, because we do not have peace here in the USA "errrrr what's up Doc?"

If this is only for "medical purposes" only, let's have M.D.'s write scripts and have them filled at pharmacies. What an idea???

There are many here stating the state will go to hell in a hand basket if this happens. First of all these predictions of more crime, violence, and accidents are unfounded. If that was the case we would already see car accidents on the road because people can now get cannabis from anywhere they want. More ads will be put in place by prohibitionists about this but none have been reported. And no, you can't use examples where drivers were killed in car accidents where marijuana was found because most of the time they were drunk from alcohol. Cannabis does not induce violence, people need to inform themselves with hard scientific facts. Cannabis as a matter of fact does the complete opposite. You also cannot state that the children will be harmed because prohibition has not stopped cannabis from reaching the children at all. A new system needs to be put in place because prohibition and fear has done nothing but create more problems.

Increase crime? The war against drugs has failed so badly Mexican druglords come up here with their guns and grow it. Bang bang bang! The whole black market in the US came when holier than thous decided we shouldn't have this or that. As someone who has used pot and consumed alcohol, I can assure anyone that booze is worse for you than pot. Then they try and tell you anyone who smokes five joints a day is equal to someone smoking two packs of cigarettes. Five joints a day? One hit of this state's great pot will last for hours. More PR BS. Go ahead and create laws that prohibit driving and pot consumption. Lower the level of alcohol allowed too. Educate, regulate, tax, and get the damn Mexican drug lords the hell out of here. Caught driving under the influence? Lose your buying ability. Every time I get high, I'm constantly craving heroin. Give me a break. This is for adults. Treat us the same.

The bankroll, Richard Lee, stands to LOSE more than gain. Legalization will decrease the price, and just ask the local gas station owner, lower prices make it more difficult to reap profits. (Same margin) I heard from many people in Oregon when the initiative was on the ballot there, and those in the biz all said the same thing, "I am voting against it, as it would hurt my income to have it legal."

@Jack is exactly right.

I am totally for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana, similar to the control of alcohol sales and distribution, but I have always told my friends with medical marijuana prescriptions to avoid the dispensaries. It may seem fun to try the novel pot products, like lollipops and drinks, etc., and it might be fantastic to have your pick of a variety of blends, but in the end, you have just given the federal government your name and address and admitted to being a marijuana user. Like Jack said, Federal law trumps state law, so it's not worth the risk of getting in trouble with the Feds.

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