New marijuana ballot measure starts circulating

A new marijuana legalization ballot measure was cleared Monday to start seeking petition signatures.  But its proponents aren’t affiliated with the Oakland-based backers of last year’s Proposition 19, who intend to mount a 2012 initiative of their own.  The state attorney general’s official summary says the measure, named by its proponents as “The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012,” would decriminalize marijuana sales, distribution, possession, use, cultivation, processing and transportation by people at least 21 years old.Advertising of marijuana, except for medicinal use, would be banned, but zoning restrictions would not apply to marijuana growing and processing. Existing agricultural taxes and regulations would apply to all except noncommercial production of up to 25 flowering plants or 12 processed pounds per year. Sales of marijuana with at least 1 percent THC — the herb’s most prominent psychoactive ingredient — would be allowed only to people 21 and up.  The measure also would direct state and local officials not to cooperate with enforcement of the federal ban on marijuana.

Proponents James Gray, William McPike and Steve Kubby have until Dec. 19 to collect valid signatures from at least 504,760 registered voters in order to qualify it for the ballot.  Gray, a former Orange County Superior Court judge and the 2004 Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senate, is a longtime drug reform advocate from Newport Beach. McPike is a Fresno attorney specializing in marijuana law. Kubby, of South Lake Tahoe, is a longtime marijuana advocate and the 1998 Libertarian gubernatorial nominee.  They aren’t with the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, which grew out of last year’s Prop. 19 legalization effort. Although 53.5 percent of voters rejected Prop. 19 in November, the measure did have support from 4.6 million voters and so the coalition intends to try again in 2012.  “We are in the very rough draft stages,” coalition chair and Oaksterdam University executive chancellor Dale Jones said Monday, noting her group has spent the past nine months expanding its stakeholders beyond those who supported Prop. 19 and trying to draft a measure that satisfies the most of them. “I’m herding cats.”

Gray said Monday he doesn’t anticipate two different marijuana measures on next year’s ballot.  “I think we will be able to work together to put on a good measure and everyone will support it,” he said. “It wouldn’t be horrendous to have two, I think it would be confusing and certainly more expensive, but I think we’ll be able to work out whatever differences there may be.”  Jones said she’s unperturbed that Gray’s measure got out ahead of her coalition’s; anything that furthers the public dialogue on marijuana helps the cause, she said, though ultimately a better-financed measure might have a better chance of qualifying for the ballot and passing.  Gray also said the attorney general’s office “was either innocently misinformed or was intentionally misleading” by titling this as a marijuana legalization measure. He said there’s “a huge difference” between just legalizing something “as opposed to strictly regulated control” as exists today with alcohol, with age and advertising restrictions.  The Legislative Analyst’s Office and state Finance Department found the new measure’s fiscal effect could vary widely based upon whether federal authorities come down hard on California, and upon specific taxes and regulations. State and local governments could save tens of millions in law-enforcement costs while also realizing hundreds of millions in new tax revenue, they found.

via : Oakland Tribune

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