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Marijuana Legalization Proponents Throw in the Towel for 2014

Marijuana Legalization Proponents Throw in the Towel for 2014
File photo by Timothy Norris/LA Weekly

The last of the standing California recreational marijuana initiatives for 2014 is throwing in the towel.

Dave Hodges, the San Jose-based backer of the Marijuana Control, Legalization & Revenue Act (MCLR), told LA Weekly that he plans to announce today that the effort to make the November, 2014 ballot is finished.

The only other initiative officially still in the running, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI), was previously disqualified by the California Secretary of State because it failed to turn in enough signatures on time.

However, a new deadline for signature gathering was granted, one that organizers admit will be impossible to make:

"We're not going to make 2014," CCHI sponsor Berton Duzy told us.

The effective deadline to turn in enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot is April 18. CCHI's new deadline gives it until Aug. 18 "to qualify for 2016," Duzy said.

Hodges said the April 18 deadline for the MCLR also means that "we're officially throwing in the towel."

Both efforts were hampered by an inability to raise cash for signature gathering. It's widely believed that it takes about $2 to $3 million dollars to obtain enough signatures, via professional signature gatherers, to qualify for the California ballot.

Neither initiative proposal had anywhere near that.

The MCLR sought to create alcohol-like taxation and regulation to pot. The CCHI would have allowed "for personal use and possession of cannabis grown for personal consumption," according to its circulation language.

See also: Legal Weed in California is "Dead as a Doornail" for 2014

While many legalization proponents were keen on capitalizing on the success of recreational-marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington, the smart money is on more financially robust efforts aiming for the 2016 ballot.

Why? It's a presidential election year, and turnout will be greater. Lower-turnout election years tend to favor older, more conservative voters who might not be too enthusiastic about full pot legalization.

Marijuana Legalization Proponents Throw in the Towel for 2014
Timothy Norris for LA Weekly

Four legalization initiatives aimed for the California ballot earlier this year. An effort by the Drug Policy Alliance, the one group that had the money and organization at-hand, appeared to be a bluff - a bookmark with state officials in case any of the other attempts made the ballot.

See also: Marijuana Legalization in California Races Toward Ballot

The DPA pulled the plug in February, and an effort by marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal designed specifically to counter the DPA's proposal then also bowed out.

That left the MCLR and CCHI, which are now finished.

We'd now expect a huge legalization push in California for 2016, with the DPA, a national organization, likely leading the way.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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