The California campaign to legalize recreational marijuana will announce at a formal kickoff Wednesday that proponents have collected enough signatures to place the initiative on the fall ballot.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the highest-ranking official backing the measure, will be joined at the downtown San Francisco event by supporters from the medical community, law enforcement and environmental and drug policy reform groups to celebrate the campaign launch.
The effort to legitimize recreational pot for adults is expected to receive national attention given the size and political influence of California. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed historic legislation regulating medical marijuana, which was decriminalized by voters in 1996.
The as-yet unnumbered initiative aiming for November has generated more than 600,000 signatures, far more than the 365,000 needed. With funding from billionaire entrepreneur Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, the campaign has largely coalesced many of the disparate marijuana groups around the effort.
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The Adult Use of Marijuana Act would legitimize possession of 1 ounce of marijuana and cultivation of six marijuana plants for adults 21 and over. It would impose a 15 percent excise tax on all retail sales, though localities could still ban marijuana sales in their jurisdictions.
It also would impose an infraction and maximum fine of $100 for possession of more than an ounce of marijuana. The proposal is expected to draw opposition from law enforcement and other groups, and was the subject of a critical report by esteemed public health researchers.
This will be the second time in six years that Californians will vote on legal pot. In 2010, voters rejected Proposition 19 by a vote of 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent.
Newsom’s involvement follows his publication of a commission report that he intended to serve as a road map for proponents.
A candidate for governor in 2018, Newsom has called the initiative a “consensus measure” that will respect local preferences and protect public health and public safety.