Legalizers One Step Closer To Ballot Box

The march to full legalization for marijuana in California took another giant step for man kine this week as organizers turned in what they said were more than enough signatures to qualify their pro-pot measure for the November ballot.

An official at the offices of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk confirmed to LA Weekly that supporters of the proposed Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act dropped off signatures Thursday. (Initiative backers must collect voters' signatures equal to five percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election and then turn in the results county-by-county).

The Los Angeles Times reported that organizers claimed to have nearly 700,000 signatures. They would need 433,971 to qualify for the ballot. The signatures need to be from verified, registered voters, and many will be disqualified, but organizers calculated that into their efforts.

The initiative would allow people 21 and older to have an ounce of weed and grow plants for personal use. Taxes could be imposed on sales -- a plus in a time of budget famine for state and local governments. About 56 percent of California voters polled last year support full legalization of marijuana.

The state has been a pioneer in the quasi-legalization medical marijuana, but the Compassionate Use Act passed by voters in 1996, which aimed at allowing nonprofit collectives to provide marijuana to the "seriously ill," has been used as a basis for a burgeoning retail marijuana trade with dubious medicinal basis. Fully legalizing the drug would bring the law closer to the reality of its trade, particularly in Los Angeles.

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