The effort to fully legalize marijuana in the Golden State just got serious.
While there are two possible initiatives aiming for next year's ballot, the smart money is on a try for recreational legitimacy during the next presidential election, which should see stronger voter turnout.
This week Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom teamed up with the ACLU to chair a blue-ribbon panel that will study the "complex legal and policy issues" of legalization:
The panel, to be made up of lawyers, researchers and policy experts, will look at "legalizing, taxing and regulating" cannabis, according to the ACLU.
It'll be a two-year-effort, which seems to us to overlap with a key campaigning period for that presidential election we told you about.
In fact, the civil liberties group touted a poll this week that found California voter support for a 2016 initiative that would legalize it with about 65 percent saying yes.
Newsom said this on his Facebook page Thursday:
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Enough's enough. Results are overwhelming that what we are doing on regulating marijuana is failing. It's time to properly tax and regulate the industry. I'm honored to be a part of a Blue Ribbon Panel to explore tax and regulation of marijuana.
If we do end up legalizing it, California could be the third state, behind Washington and Colorado, to do so.
The Golden State was the first in the union to allow some form of pot use via our landmark 1996 medical marijuana initiative.