Monday, January 06, 2014

Rosenthal's 2014 marijuana ballot initiative makes it four Featured

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Ed Rosenthal (to the left in photo), California horticulturist, author, publisher, cannabis grower and advocate for legalization of marijuana, in mid-December, 2013, mailed his initiative, The Cannabis Policy Reform Act of 2014. Rosenthal's contribution will now bring the total of marijuana reform initiatives, officially submitted to Sacramento, to four. The other three proposals: The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014; The Control, Regulate and Tax Marijuana Act of 2014 (version2); and The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014 (version3) are at various stages of the process for getting an initiative on the ballot.

To be placed on the ballot, each of the proposed initiatives must meet a series of requirements including: approval by the Office of Legislative Counsel, submission to the Attorney General to request preparation of a circulating title/summary of the chief purpose/points of the initiative, and collection of signatures of registered voters.  A maximum of 150 days, from the official summary date, is allowed for signature collection. However, signature collection must be completed at least 131 days before the election.  Petition circulators must obtain more than 500,000 (at least 5% of the total votes cast for Governor at the last gubernatorial election) qualified signatures for the proposal to qualify, which means shooting for at least 10% more to give a safe margin for disqualifications. Click here for the full process and procedure for implementing a ballot initiative.

The 2010 election witnessed the defeat Prop. 19, the California ballot effort to legalize and regulate marijuana for general use, but since then two states, Colorado and Washington, have passed marijuana reform legislation, other regions in the U.S. have liberalized their pot policies, and changing attitudes regarding marijuana use have been documented. The relevant questions now are: How many different initiatives will be on the California ballot in 2014, and will one of them get the 51% majority needed to become the law of the land?  Or, will the issue be deferred to the 2016 election?

Comparisons between the current proposals require careful scrutiny. As a starting point a comparison chart has been created and published by Shona Levana Gochenaur. Note: the accuracy of this chart has not been evaluated. Crafting and getting financial support for any initiative walks the fine line between satisfying the measure's base supporters while still being palatable enough to voters to win a majority at election time, and there are some major differences in these four proposals.  For example, the most liberal of the quartet is The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014, championed by followers of Jack Herer a legendary California cannabis advocate who died in 2010. This proposal would allow for 99 flowering plants per year to be grown by adults for personal use and would cap the taxes at 10% of the retail price of the product. Whereas, The Control, Regulate and Tax Marijuana Act imposes a 25% tax and stipulates that for personal use, "...not more than six plants may be possessed, grown, or processed at a single home or private residence, or upon the grounds of that home or private residence, at one time."

The California marijuana legislative landscape will be changing as the signature collection deadlines come and go and financial and volunteer support for the proposals solidifies. The current initiatives may be viewed by clicking the links in the first paragraph above.

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