By Patrick McGreevy, L.A. Times
An initiative that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California will be on the Nov. 8 ballot, and the campaign has a commanding lead in fundraising to battle the measure’s opponents.At least 600,000 signatures were turned in to qualify the measure. The initiative is backed by a coalition that includes former Facebook President Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“(This) marks a fresh start for California as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself,” said Jason Kinney, a spokesman for California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act.
The initiative would allow adults ages 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes and would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants.
California would join Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon as states that allow recreational use of marijuana. Eight other states also have marijuana measures on their ballots this year.
More than $3.7 million has been raised so far by the leading campaign for the initiative, Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana While Protecting Children. Leading contributors so far have included former Facebook president Sean Parker, legalization advocacy group Drug Policy Action and a committee funded by the firm Weedmaps, a firm that helps consumers locate pot shops.
Opposition is led by the Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies, made up of law enforcement and health groups including the California Police Chiefs Assn., the California Hospital Assn. and the California State Sheriffs’ Assn. The groups warn legalization will lead to more drugged-driving and allow dealers of harder drugs to have a role in the new industry.
The coalition has raised about $125,000 so far from groups including the Assn. of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs State PAC and the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Assn.
A similar coalition helped defeat the last legalization measure in California, Proposition 19, in 2010.
“This campaign will be very similar to that of Proposition 19. They have the money and we have the facts,” said Tim Rosales, a spokesman for the opposition coalition.
Rosales noted that under current law, convicted methamphetamine and heroin dealers are banned from being involved in the medical marijuana industry, but the initiative overturns that ban and lets those felons obtain licenses to sell recreational marijuana.
“The proponents were specifically advised by numerous law enforcement groups during the comment period about this huge flaw, but they deliberately chose to keep it in, and you have to ask ‘Why?’” Rosales said. “Who is that provision for? They got it wrong. Again.”