Latest marijuana legalization effort files language, backers needed

By Oscar Pascual |

Despite delays and controversy, the group seemingly best-positioned to legalize cannabis in California next year just took another major step forward towards legitimacy.

Backers of the group Reform CA filed initiative language to the Attorney General’s office on Friday. This alliance of veterans from the Prop. 19 campaign in 2010, major advocacy groups like NORML and Americans for Safe Access and the California NAACP represents the state’s best-yet chance to legalize marijuana in the 2016 election.

If it qualifies for the ballot, the proposed language for the “Control, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016” would allow adults aged 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana as well as a 100-square-foot personal grow area. Cannabis would be removed from the state’s list of banned substances and the state’s current laws outlawing marijuana possession, sales, and cultivation would be repealed. Commercial production and sales of marijuana would be licensed and taxed in a similar manner as alcohol.

The initiative, which was written based on recommendations reported by a Blue Ribbon panel consisting of the ACLU and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, would also instill further adjustments to the state’s pot laws:

— Allow cities and counties to ban dispensaries by vote;

— Tax commercial pot at $2 per square-foot cultivated, plus a $15 excise tax per ounce, as well as a 10 percent retail sales tax for the state;

— Allow medical marijuana business owners an easy path to acquiring an adult recreational license while leaving Prop. 215 rights untouched for patients and caregivers.

Reform CA’s language comes after a delay waiting for California lawmakers to agree on regulations for the medical marijuana industry, followed by controversy when supporters such as the Drug Policy Alliance were omitted from the website during the time official language was filed.

While the initiative has proper language and support from advocacy groups, ReformCA still needs money, according to SF Weekly.

Despite being chaired by Oaksterdam University’s Dale Sky Jones — who also worked on 2010’s failed Prop 19 — ReformCA has yet to receive support from potential big-money backers such as Facebook co-founder Sean Parker and billionaire George Soros, who both have contributed to California legalization efforts in the past.

If and when ReformCA does receive proper funding, the 26-page initiative stands to be California’s best chance of legalizing cannabis at the moment.

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