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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)

These people are wasting their time. If the California voters say to legalize it, the federal government will step in and say no way. If you want to legalize it, you have to do it federally. Anything less than that is a waste of time, money, and resources.

The people against are obviously of older age when the 'reefer madness' hysteria and propaganda (which was based on racism) was abundant. It's time for a reality check folks. It's a plant. It does not make sense to make a plant illegal. It does not make sense to incarcerate and ruin the lives of people that have committed a victimless crime. It does not make sense for our tax dollars to go to court costs, food, and shelter for this person for the length of their incarceration.

It makes sense to legalize and tax marijuana. It makes sense to release inmates convicted of marijuana related charges to ease our state budget. It makes sense for you to free your mind from the shackles of propaganda and brainwashing and to realize that you have been lied to by those that benefit from keeping this plant illegal, which is the pharmaceutical industry and the bureaucrats that have their pockets lined with lobbying dollars.

I recommend for all people to view the documentary The Union. It is very well made and explains why pot is illegal and why reversing this legislation is the right thing for our society. Legalize it!

Oh come off it, cannabis is safer than coffee, which contains caffeine, which is a drug, and I think everyone planning on moving out of California over legalizing is being a little dramatic. People smoke cannabis everyday.. in fact its probably growing in your neighbors spare bedroom.. this is not the end of the world.. more like progressive thinking.. try something new, if it doesn't work, change it. You don't know until you try.

I think its a great idea, of course state law doesn't trump federal but nearly all movements, especially ones that require an open mind, have to start somewhere and the states are a more realistic place for that.

This issue should come down to discussion not fear-mongering. porn and pot having nothing to do with each other.. porn is sex, cannabis is a plant.. you cant just gather things together that have no relation just because it suits your argument.

The sooner we legalize cannabis, the sooner we legalize hemp, and then we can really make some extra revenue for both state and federal, the rest of the world is cashing in on our idiocy regarding hemp production, it was grown for quite a few wars to increase revenue and now its taboo? Go figure.

Why oh why must we fight against our common sense? What naïve adult could possibly believe that the youth of America isn't being presented the option of drug use at our schools? The generation of today is far more desensitized to violence, sex, drugs, and alcohol than any previous generation before us. I don't see why these people advocating the eradication of marijuana legalization aren't picketing the local GameStop, or Wal-mart, or Adult shop? One could argue that a child sitting in front of a television for 8 hours straight playing a video game whose sole purpose is to immerse you in the "experience" of warfare maybe a bit more damaging to your long-term psyche than a "spacecake" party on Saturday night with some friends. No one holds these parents accountable for desensitizing their kids with these increasingly gore-ridden and "realistic" games. These parents are essentially acting as electronic drug dealers allowing their children their next "fix" for violence. Yet no one demonizes them for the destruction of creativity and lowered school standards in America or factors it into America's obesity epidemic? Another question, why must all marijuana users be categorized as drug abusers? In my brief 23 year lifetime, I've had three drugs in my system, Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Marijuana (Sincerely, in moderation), and I can honestly say that Marijuana has always seemed the lesser evil of the three. When this economy forced me to work a graveyard shift to bring home a check every week, my sleep patterns suffered and I began a short insomnia trip that was quickly fixed with a small dose of marijuana before bed. Sure I could pop a pill, but then what are the side effects of pills like Lunesta? Taken straight from their own site we have unpleasant taste in your mouth, dry mouth, sleepiness, drowsiness, headaches, and symptoms of the common cold, aggressive thoughts or behaviors, memory loss, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and increased depression. Some of these symptoms are traditionally associated with Marijuana use (Though, to be fair, I've never experienced cold-like symptoms, headaches, anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts (R.I.P. Heath Ledger) with Marijuana). How can parents purchase violent video games for our children, allow them to use the internet (Yeah, like your kids don't know how parental controls really work), and drink our daily glass of wine with our meals and believe that we're not being hypocritical? It's ludicrous to believe that ANYTHING, including the law, is more powerful than the knowledge that each parent has the ability to instill into their children regarding the responsibility of making educated choices at an early age when they inevitably run into these situations. Laziness is not justification for outlawing a substance that could potentially do more good (There's a thought) than it can harm. A properly raised adult should have the ability to say no, while the properly educated adult should know WHY they're saying no. End the ignorance.

This need's to be legalized. How can anyone say this is worse than alcohol? Statistically speaking, marijuana can never be overdosed on, whereas alcohol poisoning occurs quite often! Alcohol is also more likely to cause aggressive behavior and abuse. If it's legalized, it will fall under the same rules as alcohol regarding DUI's and public use, etc.

We tried alcohol prohibition in the 1920's, and organized crime skyrocketed (e.g. Al Capone and other mob groups). And yet, alcohol has been legal for decades now but somehow marijuana is considered worse?

Smoking is known to cause lung cancer, and yet it's been legal and taxed.

Consider the drug war in Mexico and how much illegal marijuana is fueling the killing and crime down there. Why not take away a major source of funding for the gruesome murders occurring daily down there?

Why not allow police forces to focus more on the real crimes, rather than stopping small pot users and growers?

Why not bring a new source of funding and revenue in agriculture, retail, manufacturing, transportation, and the tax revenue we can generate from it? Why let a billion dollar industry go unregulated and in the hands of drug dealers and others connected to sources that hurt society, when honest citizens can benefit?

Considering that the porn industry is already legal, and is heavily based in the LA area - and prostitution is legal in Nevada, and people don't have a problem going to Nevada for fun - the legalization of weed will not affect how people view CA any differently.

We'd better do something to save our state ! I find that smoking a "fattie" helps with my anger towards the government
and the impending fall of our state. Helps me deal with all the spanish I have to hear in public too.
When I'm stoned I can go to my happy place where they still speak English!

Legalization is the best thing. I dont use pot any longer, but I feel that I have right to do to my body as I wish. For me, its a civil liberties issue. Wouldn't someone telling me that I cannot smoke pot be like telling someone that they cannot eat fast food? Some people eat fast food and its clearly not good for them, some can eat it every once in a while and its fine. But to ban fast food completely would be wrong because we assume that people can do to their bodies as they wish because its their body and their choice. If it harmed another person, fine. But it doesnt any more than someone obeseing out on fast food.
And for the stereotype that all stoners become losers, you're totally wrong. I have friend that is a very successful and competent professional and he is a casual smoker on the weekends. I am someone who went to class everyday high back in highschool and was much more interested in art and having fun than really paying attention. A decade later, Im a graduate student doing research in science. Nobody back in highschool would have ever thought that back in those days, but pot didnt ruin my life. I decided to stop when I was ready on my own volition. We should teach kids to explore the world naturally by investing into education and the arts, kids will be less apt to become dependent on ANY substance or process addiction.
Prohibition is the most ridiculous way to handle this.

Nothing wrong with Pot. Anyone that has used it knows that. The ones that haven't used it don't have a leg to stand on. The people that think Pot is a 'hard' drug like Heroin or Crack are just plain foolish. It is a 'soft' drug. Look at the success of Amsterdam. Tax it, regulate it and focus on bigger problems, like hard drugs, crime and drunk driving.

Legalization of marijuana would not only bring in much needed tax dollars but will also cut back on the amount of drug related crimes in LA. Most of the gang activity nowadays is not over colors but drugs. Gangs are making millions by illegally selling drugs and are killing one another in the streets because someone else is moving in on their drug selling area.

Yay! Make it legal and put the drug dealers (both US and Mexican) out of business. Maybe now our boarders will be safer. Because our current laws AREN'T WORKING. I've never met or run into an angry abusive pot smoker. Ever.

Legalizing pot is a no brainer. It's already here and will be used whether or not its law. Medical pot is good in cases decided by the Doctor and the patient. Let it be decided in that fashion. To say that it will create more crime, etc is short sighted and unproven. I think that legalizing beer, etc has caused more harm than pot ever will. Looking back on our country's history, I believe heroin was sold over the counter in the early 1900's with no restrictions at all!! If people want to crusade for a cause then go for restrictions on controlling perverts and sex offenders. Put your efforts and money protecting our children from those animals.

Legalize it.

The Feds don't listen to bastardly states...But they will once the majority of them decriminalize. We're at what, 13-14 states and counting?

Soon enough...

And those that will smoke pot, already smoke pot...The only thing that will change is the laws will stop screwing them, the criminal element will go away, the judicial system will save uncounted millions and the state will generate badly needed funds.

You don't want to smoke? THEN DON'T!

The legal status has little bearing on consumption. Seriously, stay out of the argument as your opinions are based on paranoia and out-dated propaganda. Think about that the next time you toss back a beer and smoke your cigarette.

it is happening this is how you change the federal law, state by state it already happened in Colorado and we're next and then Oregon by then the maybe the fed will get on board and the criminal element wont bother to grow in our national parks they wont be able to compete with the legal growers..

I spent many years smoking pot as a kid. In the past twenty years, I have smoked it a few times and found it pretty boring, but that isn't my point.

I don't get this whole medical thing. The only thing pot can do for you is take away a tummy ache. It may work for cancer patients, and they should definitely get whatever works for them, but I don't recall it ever acting as a pain reliever.

That said, pot should be legalized for numerous reasons. Medical use, personal use, the extreme tax benefits, agricultural benefits, etc..

What i want to know what is the plan for when this legal pot smoking is mixed with, prescription drugs, cocaine and the hundred other illegal recreational drugs that MANY pot smokers also partake in? Then there is the issue of mixing pot with alcohol which will spin you out of control. There will have to be so many caveats on the how, when, why, where and how much that will take forever itself. This guys bill doesn't have anywhere near the definition passing something like this will take.

The right of the people shall not be denied.Our freedoms are in the power to vote,but that power is being under mined by some of our own elected officials.vote for legalization and vote out those who clearly corrupt and deny the peoples voice.


Please get your facts straight and read satistics. Alchol is much MUCH worse then cannibus. Ever heard of anyone getting killed by a driver because they were "high"? Ever heard of a "weed smoker" mugging someone because they were "high"? Ever hear of anyone getting into a fight because they were high? NO!!!! Cannibus is a relaxing herb that doesn't kill anyone or make people violent. I have never seen anyone get violent because they have smoked weed. Please get all your facts straight before posting on a topic you have no clue about. LEGALIZE ALREADY!!!

It's a no-brainer. Legalize it, like yesterday. It's a horrible shame that millions of lives lost every year to alcoholism and alcohol related incidents. Last time I checked the ratio to people who have died from weed, pales in comparison, because there is no comparison. Let people make their own decisions. If anything, soceity will probably become more tolerant of each other. Just don't go to work high and don't operate a motor vehicle etc, just as you would do with alcohol. But, to have marijuana not be legal and alcohol is,is utterly ridiculous!

So basically, in a nutshell:
Unless the government gets a piece of the 'profit' pie, it will remain 'illegal'? Just like the pharmaceutical companies, making a 'profit' to keep America sick!
Throw the so-called 'low-lifes' away who sell it to make a living. Now, since it is out-of-control...why not make a killer profit? No jail time for the government!

I have always been an advocate for all 'natural' remedies and 'natural' resources. I have never been an advocate for anything 'illegal' that can potentially be hazardous to your lungs and brain! I pray they DO NOT legalize pot!

The news of today's America does not surprise me! Maybe...we allow it to happen to our good ole' USA by not being involved! It is ashamed where America is today.

Jack, what makes you think Federal Law trumps State Law? If you read the Constitution, it says states can make whatever laws they want except for a short list of items reserved by the Federal government. For years, the interstate commerce clause was used to justify the Feds coming in and throwing their weight around. This has nothing to do with interstate commerce. My little pot field in my back yard for my consumption is not interstate commerce. Commercially grown California pot for sale in California is not interstate commerce. Your turn.

I don't think people realize that our existing laws against marijuana are doing absolutely nothing to subside marijuana use today in america. Marijuana is faaaaaaaaar easier to obtain for kids, ask any high schooler or college student they will agree, simply because dealers don't ask for ID's.

I'm sorry tangytoo, the belief that crime will increase is completely wrong. The current laws for marijuana use promote criminal activity because the only people who have it are criminals who don't use the economic principles of business competition, but guns and violence to control their "turf".

The average dealer is a 16-20 year old who says "hey alot of my friends want weed so ill buy an ounce (28.5 grams) for $ 400, sell it for $20 a gram and make a 6 dollar profit for putting an herb on a scale, in a bag and handing it to them. Where is the rest of the 14 dollars going? To the mexican cartels who have killed over 15,000 people to control what this initiative will allow the State of California, its people and law enforcement to just as has with alcohol. The criminal market will die off as it cannot compete with businesses who can legally grow then distribute cannabis to consumers at a much cheaper price. Instead of $20 a gram make it $10, dealers will not be able to thrive as they have now once with capitalism against them, end of story.

Jack- I do understand the law, do you? The tenth ammendent states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
That means states can make their own laws regarding marijuana, just as 14 have with medical marijuana and others have with decriminalization.

Of course if legalized it will get into kids hands, but is it now? YES!!!!!!! Kids of today are "benefiting" from prohibition as they can call about 20 people in their cell phone and get a bag of weed in 15 minutes.... Of course they are "benefiting" until they are one of the 800,000 Americans to be arrested for minor possesion, lose loans for college, get a criminal record and basically ruin their lives for smoking a non-toxic, non-addictive herb that OUR LAST 3 PRESIDENTS HAVE SMOKED!!!

Gateway Theory- If you smoke marijuana you will then try heroin, crack cocaine and meth...seriously?

VT- yes a bankrolled guy wants to tax and regulate it. Do you know was behind making it illegal??? Billionaire William Randolph Hearst with his yellow journalism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Randolph_Hearst#War_on_marijuana

There needs to be tests done with driving under the influence of marijuana, because those who say there will be more highway deaths need to be educated with the reality that it does not impair your abilities even close to the extent of alcohol or even texting/ driving on the phone.

Yes, I smoke marijuana. I have for the past year on a very regular basis. I am a capable member of society that can hold a regular conversation, work my tail off to make a living and support my family friends and neighbors when they need me. But yet our federal government is trying and failing to lock me up for a minimum of 1 year with a $1,000 for possessing something that has only hurt me through my wallet (the government hasn't gotten a penny of what I have spent on weed). Im sick of it.

I want to tax and regulate marijuana. Then we can educate the public about its real harms and tell kids they can't use it because there not 21 which is much easier to say to a teenager than saying a plant that has never killed anyone and is safer than alcohol and tobacco which actually has certain medical benefits is illegal to everyone.

Genesis 1.29: "God said, "See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food."

Stop the lies, please.


Erik, you are an elitist jerk!

Marijuana can cause the following;

Distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch)

Problems with memory and learning

Loss of coordination

Trouble with thinking and problem-solving

Increased heart rate, reduced blood pressure

Federal Laws will keep marijuana from being legal in this country. Hopefully Lee will spend all of his money trying to buy marijuana reform which will leave him penniless!

So the drug addicts are at it again, but with the backing of a bazilionaire...don't we have enough problems with alcohol? Now by legalizing marijuana you want to add more highway deaths and crime to the climbing statistics. Why doesn't Lee use his influence on more important issues that could really help people, like poverty or crime.

Posted by: Gray | January 28, 2010 at 01:12 PM

And why do we have such a huge problem with crime? Why don't you look back to about 1983ish and see what changed in our country and maybe you'll see why the increase in crime.

If this passes, I will be moving my family and business out of California at any cost! That will un-employ another 5 people!

The next thing will be prostitution, then porn industry.

This is the wrong direction to go in, trust me.

Anyone with any form of business will be pulling out as fast as they can.

Posted by: Martin | January 28, 2010 at 12:52 PM

Why is it wrong? Becasue you say so? Where are the proven facts that make this wrong? It's already legal here for medical use so why haven't you moved out of state yet? And what state are you going to move your business to? I highly doubt you'll want to pay higher taxes in another state just so you can run like a coward from this state.

The driver of a charter bus that on May 9, 1999 , crashed and killed 22 people was fired from bus companies in 1989 and 1996 after testing positive for marijuana four times. A federal investigator also confirmed a report that Frank Bedell, 46, tested positive for marijuana when he was hospitalized after the bus veered off a highway in New Orleans , Louisiana and plunged into an embankment

Now, who needs to get a REALITY CHECK!

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