Recreational Pot Is Officially Headed for Your Ballot

Recreational Pot Is Officially Headed for Your Ballot
File photo by Gustavo Turner/L.A. Weekly

An initiative that asks if you want to legalize marijuana for everyone 21 and older in California is headed for the November ballot.

The office of Secretary of State Alex Padilla yesterday listed the measure known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) as eligible for the ballot.

Organizers, who needed 365,880 valid signatures from voters, are elated.

"Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself," said AUMA spokesman Jason Kinney.

If you approve it, AUMA would allow Californians who are 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate as many as six plants.

Growing and retail sales would be taxed at a rate of 15 percent, and $100 million a year in tax revenue is possible, according to state analysis. Cities like Los Angeles, however, could ban recreational retail sales if they want to.

California would license and police pot businesses in a way similar to that established by the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), scheduled to take effect for medical marijuana businesses in 2018.

In 2010 statewide voters turned down Proposition 19, which would have made recreational weed legal. But a lot has changed since then, including Colorado's spotlight-stealing legalization. In fact, California could join four other recreational pot states after pioneering medical marijuana 20 years ago.

AUMA is endorsed by Lt. Gavin Newsom and backed financially by tech billionaire Sean Parker of Holmby Hills. The NAACP of California, the ACLU of California, the Drug Policy Alliance and national NORML have given it the thumbs up.

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Some law-and-order groups, including the Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies and the California Police Chiefs Association, are opposed.

Polls in recent months indicate that about 60 percent of likely voters in California are in favor of recreational legalization.

In a statement, California NORML said that if Golden State voters pass this thing, it could help spread legalization across the nation.

"If California voters approve AUMA, the pressure for federal marijuana law reform could finally become irresistible to politicians in Washington," it said. " If not, it will no doubt be interpreted as a major setback for marijuana reform at the national level."

The choice is yours.

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