California: Another Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure Cleared To Gather Signatures
By Steve Elliott
Supporters of marijuana legalization in California now have not just one, but two initiatives cleared to collect signatures to try to qualify for the November ballot.
The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act (MCLR) has been given the green light to start collecting signatures, joining the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI), which received clearance back last September from the California Secretary of State to circulate petitions. CCHI's deadline for more than 500,000 signatures is just three weeks away, on February 24, while MCLR has until June 30.
If passed, the MCLR, like the CCHI, would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults 21 and older. It would also strengthen existing medical marijuana laws and legalize hemp production, according to supporters, reports Ashley Bailey at KPCC.
"It stops putting 20,000 people a year in California for low level offenses and it creates a diversion program," said Silicon Valley businessman John Lee, who leads the nonprofit Americans for Policy Reform, one of the groups behind the measure. The law would also open up possibilities for medical research, as well as generating revenue from a variety of cannabis sources, according to Lee.
The law would cover all personal uses of cannabis, he said. "They're all intertwined, based on a single plant."
Lee said the law is similar to Colorado's marijuana legalization law, but has its own unique infrastructure. The industry would be regulated by a seven-member Cannabis Control Commission appointed by the governor.
"We chose to create a commission that oversees all the cannabis and hemp production and a fee structure, so that they gather information for the other various departments, such as Health, Agriculture, Consumer Affairs," Lee said.
Supporters plan to start gathering signatures within the next few days, according to Lee, who said that polls suggest Californians want legal marijuana. A Field Poll in December showed a majority of state voters support recreational legalization.
MLCR supporters need half a million signatures by June 30 from registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.