After twenty years of medical marijuana, California is taking the next step towards legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
In November, California voters will have the opportunity to vote for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). The initiative received major funding from Sean Parker and Drug Policy Action.
“This November, California voters will finally have the opportunity to pass smart marijuana policy that is built on the best practices of other states, includes the strictest child protections in the nation and pays for itself while raising billions for the state,”
said Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in a statement. Newsom’s office has been collaborating with AUMA organizers and other groups petitioning for legalized marijuana, ensuring that any proposal that appears on the November ballot will have been vetted by lawmakers.
The proposed legislation would allow for the use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. Californians would be allowed to possess up to one ounce and grow up to six plants. A 15% sales tax would help pay for regulation and control of marijuana. The AUMA has officially been endorsed by Lt. Gov. Newsom as well as groups like California NAACP, Drug Policy Action, California Medical Association, Marijuana Policy Project of California and the California Cannabis Industry Association, among others.
Opposition to the proposal is coming from law enforcement and groups that opposed the previous ballot measure.
“This is bad for our communities. This is bad for our youth and it’s a broad commercialization [of drugs], a for-profit, money-making model,”
said Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney, who fears legalization would lead to widespread addiction. However, the California Medical Association supports the AUMA, stating,
“The most effective way to protect the public health is to tightly control, track and regulate marijuana and to comprehensively research and educate the public on its health impacts, not through ineffective prohibition.”
California legalized medical marijuana back in 1996. Since then, efforts have been made to legalize recreational use, most recently in 2010. That proposal failed by a narrow margin, but polling suggests Californians are more likely than ever to vote in favor of legalization.
After acquiring enough votes to qualify for November’s ballot, Maine voters will have the chance to legalize cannabis this fall.
The legalization referendum received more than the necessary 61,123 signatures to qualify for November’s ballot. Until the bill’s proponents submitted more signatures yesterday, the referendum’s fate was in serious doubt since 26,000 signatures had been previously denied “because of a discrepancy.”
Maine’s bill would legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and set up a regulated, retail marijuana system much like Colorado’s. With the additional possibility of legalization in states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts this fall, the East Coast might soon have its first three legal states in one full swoop.
After collecting enough signatures to qualify for this November’s vote, Arizona will have a chance to become one of America’s next legal marijuana states.
Spearheaded by the Marijuana Policy Project, the state’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced that it has garnered over 200,000 signatures from Arizona citizens supporting the effort. The proposal needed just 150,642 legitimate signatures from registered Arizona voters and easily surpassed that benchmark.
As long as there’s not over 50,000 fake signatures on that list, that means Arizona’s voters will decide the state’s legalization fate come this November’s vote. Should those voters say yes, Arizona’s policy would closely mirror Colorado’s by allowing any adult 21 and up to purchase certain amounts of legal marijuana and includes a 15% tax on all sales. As in Colorado, those tax dollars would go directly towards the Arizona school system thus proving a direct benefit to society.
That vote’s outcome looks like a promising one for cannabis, but is by no means a surefire victory. A recent poll (with a very small sample size) showed support for legalization in Arizona at just 53% which would barely pass the Campaign to Regulate Like Marijuana Like Alcohol. That number seems low, so hopefully, come election day, that polling number will be easily eclipsed and Arizona can smell out a victory. Arizona’s neighbor,
Nevada, will also get to vote on legalization this fall while California, Massachusetts, Michigan and Rhode Island all have strong chances to make the ballot. Vermont could beat them all to the punch by legalizing by way of legislation, not a vote.
Arizona medical marijuana program, in place since 2011, should not be effected by legalization. Thanks to this thriving medical market, Arizona actually has the potential to be a vast legal market: sales in Arizona surged from $35 million in 2013 to $155 million in 2014 in the nation’s fasted growing marijuana market.