February 6, 2014

THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM: Possibility California Will Be Next to Join Legal Marijuana States

Not only has California been slowly climbing out of the recession, but also it looks like full legalization of cannabis is no longer an “if”, but rather a “when” scenario in the great Golden State! California was the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes and now might be the next to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Many of us in the legalization movement agree that we should do the research to tackle any potential problems that might arise and make sure we do not pass a poorly written law. Although, there are already a few movements that could bring legalization fast—like this year!

California seems to be the next—and biggest state to legalize cannabis and, if so, we want to do it right. Several committees and coalitions are making progress and rattling cages to get this issue off the ground. There are already four different measure proposals on the table that will be considered for upcoming ballots.

The four initiatives proposed are:

1) The Control, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana Act, 2) The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act, 3) The Cannabis Policy Reform Act, and 4) The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative.

Here’s the breakdown:

The Control, Regulate, Tax Marijuana Act is backed by the Drug Policy Alliance and it is the most restrictive initiative. This initiative would allow possession of cannabis for those over the age of 21 (which is common in all of the initiatives), but only up to an ounce. Further, it allows for users to grow up to four plants. However, widely known cannabis cultivator Ed Rosenthal is opposed to this initiative and backs another initiative instead . . .

The Cannabis Policy Reform Act. This allows for more cannabis to be grown for private use. This initiative would allow for up to three ounces for possession and cultivation of 100 square feet or 2600 of light indoors. Although it does not allow for local governments to ban cultivation, it does allow for bans on cannabis storefronts upon voter approval.

The Secretary of State Debra Bowen, in December 2013, announced that The Marijuana Legalization and Control Act needs to collect 504,760 signatures by May 23, 2014 from registered voters to be on a ballot. This initiative seems to have the essential issues addressed, and puts California on an even playing field with Colorado. The bill that would legalize cannabis in California covers use, growth, cultivation, possession, transportation, storage and sale. This law, prepared for the Attorney General, also addresses initial taxes on cannabis and discrimination issues against users or businesses. The initiative intends to have revenues from cannabis sales taxes allocated among education, healthcare, law enforcement/fire, drug abuse education/treatment, and regulation of commercial cannabis activities.

Finally, The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative was the first proposed and is very similar to The Marijuana Legalization and Control Act, in that it addresses similar issues, but is a bit more comprehensive. It addresses recreational and medical use, and it allows for industrial cannabis immediately. Since it is the oldest, signatures need to be in by the end of February, to be put on a ballot by November 2014 (and it seems very likely).

Regardless, any measure put in place to legalize cannabis not only will make the state money through taxes, but also save the state money. Analysts project hundred of millions of dollars will be saved from law enforcement of cannabis laws, handling cannabis related criminal cases in court, and incarcerating/supervising cannabis offenders.

Meital Manzuri is a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, speaker and consultant for patients, collectives and dispensaries. If you have questions about medical cannabis or any other criminal defense matters, she can be contacted via phone at (310) 601-3140 or Manzurilaw.com.

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Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.