California: Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative Suspends Signature Gathering - Because They Have Enough Already
by Phillip Smith, Stop the Drug War
The Tax and Regulate Cannabis 2010 initiative, sponsored by Oakland medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, has laid off its paid signature gatherers, saying they already have sufficient signatures to qualify for the November 2010 ballot.
Lee told the Chronicle this afternoon that more than 650,000 signatures have been turned in, and that he expects an additional 50,000 or so to dribble in in the coming weeks. Precisely 433,971 valid signatures of registered California voters are required for an initiative to be approved for the ballot. That leaves Lee and the initiative a substantial cushion of about a quarter-million signatures to make up for any invalid signatures.
The campaign will wait to turn in signatures until January 15. If they were turned in this month, the initiative would appear on the June ballot, not the November ballot. Lee wants the initiative on the latter.
Lee's initiative, which would allow individuals up to 25 square feet to grow their own and would allow counties and municipalities to opt to tax and regulate marijuana sales on a local basis, is controversial. Some national figures believe it is premature and risks going down in flames at the polls, thus setting the movement back, while some California activists believe it does not go far enough and does not entice voters with potential revenues for the crisis-ridden state budget.
But it will be on the November 2010 ballot, provided the signatures are certified by election officials in February. It may not be the only legalization initiative on the ballot. At least two other signature-gathering campaigns for competing initiatives are under way.