It Looks Like This Recreational Marijuana Thing Is Gonna Happen
File photo by Kelsee Becker/L.A. Weekly
California pioneered the legalization of medical marijuana in 1996.
But since then the Golden State has had to toke in the shadow of states like Colorado and Washington, which have legalized recreational pot.
In 2010 a statewide ballot measure that would have made weed legal here even without a doctor's note was defeated.
Almost since then, anti-prohibitionists have been eyeing 2016 as a breakthrough year for California legalization. It's a presidential election year, when more voters turn out.
After some scary moments when it appeared that the biggest marijuana groups might place competing initiatives on the ballot, we're down to one, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and tech billionaire Sean Parker of Holmby Hills.
This thing could actually pass.
The latest Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll shows that 60 percent of likely Golden State voters say marijuana should be legalized.
"California seems poised to show its blue-state credentials in the fall," said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president-CEO. "Voters today are signaling their early support for Democratic statewide candidates, tax initiatives and marijuana legalization."
The poll found that 69 percent of likely Democratic voters favor legalization; 66 percent of those ages 18 to 34 say yes to weed, too. Nearly eight out of 10 subjects surveyed said they've tried pot.
Support for legalization was strongest in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area, PPIC found.
Organizers of AUMA touted the results.
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"The poll find that an overwhelming 72 percent of all voters believe dedicating marijuana tax revenue to drug prevention and treatment programs, a specific priority of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, is either 'very important' or 'somewhat important,'" the campaign said in a statement this afternoon.
"This poll reaffirms a growing public consensus across every demographic in California: that you don’t have to be pro-marijuana to be pro-legalization, that the current system of prohibition is an abject and expensive failure, and that it’s time for California to lead with a new approach that better protects our children, our local communities and the public health," said Jason Kinney, AUMA's spokesman.
Organizers say they have the endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who's challenging Hillary Clinton in the Democrats' presidential primary in the Golden State.
AUMA would legalize holding up to an ounce of weed for those 21 and older. It also would tax and regulate the drug.
In March another poll found that 60 percent of likely California voters would support a recreational legalization initiative.
PPIC's data is perhaps more respected, however, and the nonprofit used a larger sample size.
Be mindful: This isn't in the bag. Police groups are vowing to fight AUMA. So you still have to actually go vote in November.
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