Cannabis_sativa_plant_(4)

Legit shot at legalizing marijuana in California in 2016 begins

By Oscar Pascual |

Recreational cannabis in California has been a long time coming, but a new ballot initiative from the sponsors of 2010’s Prop. 19 is aiming to legalize it in 2016.

Advocacy group ReformCA, a part of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR), is set to announce today their intention to file a ballot initiative with the Attorney General’s office in the next few weeks that would legalize marijuana, reports the Sacramento Bee.

“The time has come to set our state on a different path that replaces the damaging effects of prohibition with safe and proven regulations that benefit the whole state,” says the group on their website.

Supporters of the initiative include prominent Proposition 19 spokesperson Dale Sky Jones, Dale Gieringer, the state director of California National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and California congressman Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach).

There are already a few other ballot initiatives seeking to legalize cannabis circulating the state, but this group is seen as the only one with any shot at mustering the resources necessary to mount, run, and win a statewide ballot initiative.

It will cost as much as $20 million to legalize cannabis in California next year, and this group is said to have access to the deep pockets of donors to organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance, a key player in the successful legalization measure in Oregon last year.

ReformCA holds a set of principles through cannabis legalization. Their announced initiative hopes to provide the state with new tax revenues, designate cannabis as an agricultural product, and eliminate felonies for minor, non-violent marijuana offenses.

Rep. Rohrabacher believes it all boils down to individual liberties.

“All across the country, but especially here in California, Americans are saying loud and clear that trying to control what people personally consume is an utter waste of limited law enforcement resources,” Rohrabacher says on the ReformCA website. “We the people, can control our own lives, thank you.”

The group plans to sign up signature gatherers in the next few weeks before presenting draft legalization language for comment.

The group will wait until a blue-ribbon panel led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom presents its recommendations on how to move forward with legalization. The Newsom group’s report is due within the next few weeks.

Photo credit: Wikipedia