The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California announced on June 14 it would be endorsing the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). The goal of the act is to control, regulate and tax the adult use, sale and cultivation of marijuana in California and is expected to be on the state ballot for the November general election.
In 2010, Proposition 19 was on the ballot in California and was the last time the state had a chance to vote on the legalization of marijuana and it led to then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession and widen the access to medical marijuana. Now, in 2016, Californians will have another chance at legalizing it and becoming the fifth state to fully legalize the use and sale of marijuana.
The announcement came after a study conducted by the ACLU California showed that despite the decriminalization of marijuana in the state, minorities were still being targeted and issued tickets. People under the age of 20 accounted for 73 percent of all misdemeanor marijuana arrests between 2011 and 2014 and nearly 70 percent of all marijuana arrests were of people of color.
“The disastrous war on marijuana in California continues to ensnare thousands of people – particularly young people of color – in the criminal justice system every year,” Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, criminal justice and drug policy director of the ACLU California chapter, said. “It is time to move from prohibition to regulation. AUMA will establish a controlled and regulated market for adults, significantly reduce the harm done to young people under current marijuana laws, and generate substantial revenue for drug education and for the communities most devastated by the war on drugs.”
According to the ACLU, if AUMA passes, it would:
- Allow adults 21 and over to possess, transport, purchase, consume and share up to one ounce of marijuana for non-medicinal purposes, as well as cultivate up to six plants at home outside of public view
- Reduce some criminal penalties and allow people previously convicted of marijuana crimes to petition a court for penalty reductions or have them expunged from their record
- Limit criminal penalties for juveniles and young adults, in most cases to infractions with fines and with evidence-based drug education as an alternative to a fine
- Create a state regulatory structure for nonmedical marijuana that builds on the recently adopted medical marijuana regulations
- Protect the state’s medical marijuana patients by including privacy protections and exemptions from the six-plant cultivation limit and sales tax on medicinal marijuana purchases
- Direct tax revenue to youth substance abuse education, prevention and treatment, state and local law enforcement, and environmental restoration and water protection; estimated revenue of between several hundreds of millions to $1 billion
“In November, California voters will have the opportunity to get regulation right,” Abdi Soltani, executive director of the ACLU of Northern California, said. “AUMA is a comprehensive proposal that incorporates consensus findings based on extensive research and discussion. Most importantly, it includes measures that will protect young people, maintain public safety, and establish workable taxation and regulation. This comprehensive measure lays out a strong framework for implementation.”
AUMA has become the most endorsed legislation initiative in state history after the ACLU California joined the likes of the California Council of Land Trusts, California Medical Association, California National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, California Cannabis Industry Association, and many others.