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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)

Just like any other industry, there are the bad and the good. Lets concentrate on the thug run operations and make the dispensaries safe places for those who are going to buy it one way or another. To force people to once again buy it from street thugs wll surely defeat the intent of people buying untainted products. We will once again see the PCP laced and other forms of weed out there that can have harmful side effects. As for me, I don't even smoke cigarettes let alone weed...but I do object to a group of people enacting rules that cancel out the orginal attempt and push us back in time. Our city council did not get it right this time.....but come to think of it, they seldom do.
By taking action such as that described in this article and then trying to limit it to only 70 locations demostrates a complete lack of truly understanding the scope of the problem. To have 70 locations handling the sales volume of 700 locations will create 70 mega stores that could not possibly grow the product they dispense.

America was founded under the idea that local law superseded, but they did away with that to go back to the kings ideas I guess. Better someone far away makes everyones else's decisions, right?

I find it sad that people still believe reefer Madness. Legalizing Marijuana will save lives. Many, many shooting in cities are due to drug wars. Marijuana accounts for 75% of all drug transactions. Take that away and you steal their bread and butter. The illegal network fosters an atmosphere in which disputes are solved by violence.

Imagine if you had no police to go to if merchandise from your store was stolen at gunpoint. Imagine if beer distributors snuffed out competition with guns. Our actions help Cartels arm themselves to the teeth. The U.S. government has largely snuffed out competition to the cartels. It is basic economics, supply and demand. The more restrictions the greater the demand or the more people are willing to pay. This is big money that people are willing to kill over.

Apparently, this initiative puts "getting high" above people's right to "clean air" in their homes, yard, balconeys, and out in public. Where do these geniuses think all this marijuana smoke is going to go? People shouldn't be forced to breath an intoxicant day and night in their own homes from marijuana smoke of pot addicts next door or in the apartment below. This initiative is really going screw people over.

Thank you mr Richard Lee, Howard Dillon and volunteers from the state’s hundreds of many helping.

I am going to vote NO to legalize pot. We have enough trouble with legal alcohol abuse now we are going to have to deal with all the pot heads too? My brother started with pot and ended up a drug addict. No more drug (that includes pot) and alcohol abuse and no more promotion and encouragement of their use. Live clean and sober.

Hard liquor adds on the TV, pot fliers on my car, billboards for casinos, fattening food adds in my mail box. Enough with the vices! Get a life people, a healthy life, or continue to be a sucker and give the dealers vast amounts of your money. Live clean and sober!

I am sick of reading stupid posts by pot heads advocating legalizing all drugs. The legalize all drugs crowd are very uninformed. Ever have to deal with a loved one addicted to a drug, and I am including alcohol and pot? Legalize heroin, crystal meth, crack cocaine! You are all nuts!!! Will these newly legalize drugs be advertised the same as pot has been? What is society going to do with all the countless new addicts created because these highly addictive drugs are legal. Most of the solutions offered on this board by the pots users will enable the addict. Watch an episode of Intervention to see what drug use can lead to and how it destroys families and the addict. You are a bunch of fools.

If you smoke pot daily and get high daily ask your self how you differ from the person that drinks daily and gets drunk daily. The first sign of addiction is denial of the addiction.

pot is harmless you all are making it out to be similar to alcohol and its nothing like that all it does is take away your pains and makes you feel happy whats wrong with a little happiness in the world with all the bad news in the world today.if you want to protest against something more harmful to the people and to the children then go after our elected officials who are ruining our country and you cannot deny this fact.go after them if you care so much about doing good .

"If passed, the initiative would put the state in conflict with federal law."

This statement is misleading. Federal law is supreme, but federal and state law are separate things and the federal and state governments are separate institutions. All this initiative means that if the federal government wants the prohibition of marijuana enforced in the cases covered by this initiative, it's going to have to do it itself: It would not be able to use state/local law enforcement to do that enforcement for it.

I hear complete non-sense from pro-marijuana activists.

I hear that Mexican cartels will be put out if Marijuana legalization happens.
The OBVIOUS truth is that Mexican cartels will make even more money!

Because of this law, marijuana will become more available and more people are
going to start using it. This means more business for Mexican cartels because this is all legal now!!!

With all this in mind, it is very OBVIOUS that crime will rise!

Pro-marijuana activists are obviously addicted to the drug: this is where the non-sense comes from. You guys (pro-marijuana) activists, weed is already "legal". You can get a medical card (very easy to get!) for about $100 per year and it will be legal for you.
If medical cards are no-longer needed, then more and more people will be able to easily get it.
We will become a drug state. Very bad! Very bad!
Stop the insanity!

Marijuana is a very highly addictive drug! It is very harmful! It contains 5 times more tar than a cigarette! Increasing the risk of cancer by 5 compared to cigarettes!

It also destroys families! If you ever had to deal with a loved one marijuana addict, you will know what I mean. People tend to minimize marijuana's impact on one's health but the truth is that people do get cancer from it! Look at Bob Marley: he was diagnosed with 3 cancers! Brain cancer, Stomach cancer and lung cancer!!!!

Passing this new law would make Mexican drug cartels more profitable since it would be LEGAL and therefore it would be much much easier for them to make business!!!

This would obviously increase crime! This is a no-brainer!
Marijuana activists, seriously wake up! Put your joint down for a few hours until you become sober and then read this post again!

Marijuana will not bring that much income! It will only bring income to Mexican cartels and other drug dealers. It will not benefit America whatsoever.

Also everyone knows that marijuana is a gateway drug! Therefore, if this non-sense law would pass, there would be a lot more people using a lot harder drugs!

I see more and more people driving under the influence of marijuana causing accidents and deaths to innocent drivers! We don't need another "reason" to cause deaths, accidents and crimes!

In some counties, it is reported that 70% of the violent crimes are under the influence of Marijuana itself so please stop saying that it is a harmless drug. It is certainly not harmless!

You, drug activists, please get some help. You are obviously addicted to that drug. Please get help before it's too late for you.

You don't have to do drugs. You can be healthy and happy! drug-free!

For those talking about Hemp being the same as Marijuana, you guys are complete idiots.

Hemp is different than Marijuana. Marijuana gets you high whereas Hemp
cannot get you high! Hemp does not contain THC (it actually contains an
extremely low dose that cannot make anyone high).

Also Hemp contains a component called CBT which is also called 'anti-marijuana' because it inhibits the action of the THC (which almost non-present in Hemp).

So for all the pro-marijuana idiots, please stop using the word Hemp as it is different from Marijuana!

Marijuana is bad!

yes, yes, yes. Hopefully the majority will vote in favor and more states are quick to follow. Let's get this done.

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