Throughout history California has been an innovator in progressive cannabis culture. The state decriminalized marijuana in 1975 and in 1996 they became the first to legalize medicinal marijuana. Now, they are taking another step to legalize cannabis for the recreational user.
In November, 2016 the legalization of recreational marijuana will be on California’s ballot.
Lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom leads a group of proponents that have gathered over 600,000 petition signatures, more than meeting the 365,880 requirement. (CAL NORML Guide to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act of 2016 AUMA, 5/24/16).
This movement, coined the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (“AUMA”), would take California into the same leagues as Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Washington D.C. This grass roots movement wants to pass legislation which includes allowing a person 21 or over to possess as much as one ounce of marijuana for private recreational use, also allowing for personal marijuana cultivation of up to six plants.
The act would establish a system to license, regulate, and tax recreational marijuana dispensaries, while allowing individual cities the right to govern sales within city limits. Accordingly, hundreds of millions of dollars would be set aside for substance abuse prevention and treatment, law enforcement, and research. (CAL NORML Guide to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act of 2016 AUMA, 5/24/16).
Although heading in the right direction, California voters failed to legalize marijuana in the recent past by rejecting Proposition 19 in 2010. It was defeated with 53.5% voters voting against and 46.5% voting for the proposition. If passed it would have had similar guidelines to the AUMA, legalizing various marijuana related endeavors and permitting local governments to regulate said activities. Supporters argued, as they do now, that regulation and taxation would help with California’s budget shortfall, would redirect law enforcement resources to more dangerous crimes, and would reduce a source of funding for drug cartels. (California Proposition 19, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative).
The vote in November is the next step California is taking to move into the arena of states that have increased statewide revenue and jobs, while decreasing opiate related deaths and domestic abuse (The Progressive Cynic, 8/29/2014).
“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,”Lt. Governor Newsom said in a recent statement.