Capitol Alert

On 4/20, marijuana legalization headed for California ballot

5 things you need to know about the California marijuana proposition

California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure headed for the statewide November ballot is the product o
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California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure headed for the statewide November ballot is the product o

Happy 4/20, the unofficial holiday of cannabis enthusiasts, and those who occasionally indulge a craving.

Wednesday’s celebration may be especially promising for California marijuana users given the improving prospect that they’ll have another chance to legalize the drug.

The November initiative to legitimize recreational pot for adults 21 and over is gaining momentum as we approach the end of the signature-gathering process. Supporters, ranging from drug policy reformers to state medical doctors and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, are approaching Tuesday’s suggested deadline set by the Secretary of State for campaigns to file signatures with county election offices.

Spokesman Jason Kinney did not provide a planned submission date (it won’t be 4/20, obviously), but said proponents are well on their way.

We are fortunate to have a measure that engenders so much public enthusiasm that signature gathering has been robust and relatively cost-effective.

Jason Kinney, spokesman for ballot effort to legalize recreational pot

“We are fortunate to have a measure that engenders so much public enthusiasm that signature gathering has been robust and relatively cost-effective,” Kinney said in an email Tuesday. “Soon, we expect to be able to file more than enough signatures and qualify for the November ballot, so Californians will finally have the right to establish a legal, safe and regulated system of adult-use marijuana.”

Californians last rejected a legalization measure in 2010 – Proposition 19 – by a vote of 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent. Unlike that measure, which was shunned by many high-profile elected officials, this year’s offering is already supported by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. On Monday, Rep. Ted Lieu, a a military prosecutor, added his name to the list of supporters.

“As a policy, marijuana prohibition has wasted taxpayer resources while failing to protect our communities,” said Lieu, D-Torrance. The proposal “represents a vastly superior and long overdue new approach.”

Among its major financial supporters is billionaire investor Sean Parker, the co-founded Napster.

Meantime, months after Gov. Jerry Brown signed historic medical marijuana guidelines, and installed the state’s first pot czar, lawmakers on Tuesday advanced legislation dealing with pot licensing in Los Angeles County, small-scale cottage cultivators and pot on tribal lands.

Pot farmers are wrestling with the implications of the first statewide regulations of California's medical marijuana industry.

"What we want is flexibility. One thing we don't want is to make the mistakes" of Colorado, Oregon and Washington - Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom at The Sacramento Bee editorial board.

Tommy Chong made a fortune co-starring in '70's and '80's stoner flicks, including "Up in Smoke," "Cheech & Chong's Next Movie" and "Nice Dreams." Now he markets his own brand of marijuana products and reflects on pot legalization and changing times.

Gavin Newsom on financing marijuana dispensaries.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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