California: Marijuana Depenalization And Regulation Measure Qualifies For November Ballot

Los Angeles, CA: Election officials on Wednesday affirmed that proponents of a statewide ballot measure to eliminate criminal penalties on the adult personal possession and cultivation of marijuana have gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the 2010 November ballot.

Proponents of the measure – the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010collected nearly 700,000 signatures in favor of the measure, over 60 percent more than the total number required by state law.

The measure will allow adults 21 years or older to possess, share or transport up to one ounce of cannabis for personal consumption, and/or cultivate the plant in an area of not more than twenty-five square feet per private residence. It would also permit local governments the option to authorize the retail sale of marijuana and/or commercial cultivation of cannabis to adults and to impose taxes on such sales. Personal marijuana cultivation or not-for-profit sales of marijuana would not be taxed under the measure.

The proposal will continue to prohibit citizens from possessing marijuana on school grounds, consuming cannabis in public or smoking while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old.

The measure will not alter or amend any aspect of the California Health and Safety code pertaining to the use of marijuana for medical purposes, when such use is authorized by a physician.

According to an April 2009 California Field Poll, 56 percent of state voters back legalizing and regulating the adult use and sale of cannabis.

“Right now, there is an estimated $15 billion in cannabis transactions every year in California, but since cannabis remains illegal, our state sees none of the revenue,” initiative proponents said in a prepared statement. “Taxing and regulating cannabis could bring in billions of dollars in revenue to help fund what matters most in California: jobs, healthcare, schools and libraries, parks, roads, transportation, and more.”

NORML’s Board of Directors and the NORML Women’s Alliance have both formally endorsed the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act.

“The immediate effect of the passage of this measure would be to protect the individual from arrest if he/she possesses or grows a small quantity of marijuana in the privacy of their own home,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “The long-term effect of this measure will be two-fold. One, it will provide local governments with the option to regulate and tax the retail distribution of marijuana to adults in a manner similar to the way society controls alcohol. Such a change, for those municipalities that opt in, will raise revenue for local governments while simultaneously imposing necessary regulations and controls to the marijuana market. Two, local regulations will one day open the door for job creation, tourism, and the legitimization of an above ground legal marijuana industry. This is a common sense, fiscally responsible proposal that will raise revenue and reduce law enforcement and judicial costs without adversely impacting public safety.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.taxcannabis.org/.