Proposition 64, California's recreational marijuana legalization initiative, has been approved by California voters, the Associated Press is projecting.
"This is the most important moment in the history of the marijuana legalization movement," Tom Angell, chairman of the group Marijuana Majority, said in a statement. "California is the sixth-largest economy in the world and is hugely culturally influential. Most importantly, this vote will dramatically accelerate the end of federal marijuana prohibition."
California joins Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska as recreational pot states. The measure makes holding up to an ounce of weed legal for those 21 and older — starting at midnight (if the results are certified by then).
Californians can grow as many as six plants for personal use. And the business, from seed to store, will be licensed and regulated by the state starting in 2018. Local jurisdictions can still ban sales and production or license them.
Proponents argued 64 would bring social justice to a state where African-American Californians are arrested for marijuana-related crimes at 3½ times the rate of white people and Latinos are arrested 35 percent more often than whites.
And tax revenues, including 15 percent of retail sales, are estimated to bring $1 billion to the Golden State's coffers, according to the state Legislative Analyst's Office. Most of that will be set aside for youth programs, cleaning up environmental damage caused by cannabis grows, and California Highway Patrol programs designed to reduce stoned driving.
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"Californians can be proud they’ve put our state at the nation’s lead in fixing a broken marijuana prohibition system and creating good jobs with a trained and professional workforce who will play a crucial role in enforcing the new Adult Use of Marijuana Act," according to a statement from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council, which supported Proposition 64.
Other groups and pro-marijuana observers were gung-ho as well.
"We’re fast approaching the day when Americans will look back on the marijuana wars of recent decades the same way we now look back on alcohol Prohibition — as a costly, foolish and deadly mistake," according to a statement from Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Aaron Herzberg of marijuana real estate firm CalCann Holdings released a statement saying: "California is now poised to rightfully take back its place from Colorado to become the rightful Silicon Valley of Marijuana."