Marijuana Legalization Efforts Begin in California

A bold petition is shaping up in California, spearheaded by a group of renowned activists who support recreational use of cannabis. Their challenge is to acquire a whopping 504,706 signatures by December 19. Accomplishing this will allow their Regulate Marijuana Like Wine initiative to be placed on the June or November ballots in 2012.

Proponents compare marijuana prohibition to alcohol prohibition, and hope to see them meet the same ultimate demise. Prominent activist and former candidate for Governor, Steve Kubby, touts the economical boon California could receive with legalization. He points out that the plan will impose “a sales tax on the biggest crop in the state.”

It is no secret that California is in dire need of an economical boon, having the second highest unemployment ratein the nation. Taxation of cannabis is a convincing argument in the face of pouring precious resources into ineffective interdiction policies. California also faces emigration issues, with citizens fleeing to places like Texas, in hopes of cheaper living, and employment opportunities.  The widely predicted tourism boost from legalization could give much needed revenue to the state, and would hopefully provide job growth and opportunities within the state.

Opponents are worried that legalizing the drug would result in social backlash, namely higher addiction addiction, drugged drivers and the usual tug-of-war with federal authorities.  However, supporters point to studies that suggest overall cannabis use will not show any dramatic shift after legalization.  As such, it is unlikely that the social complications will transpire. It is true, however, that at this time the federal government is not looking to change their policy regarding federal drug enforcement. With any luck, that will change naturally, with the myriad political events that will transpire in the next few years.

Kubby, who has been a long-time Californian activist and helped write the 1996 law that legalized medical marijuana in the state, recognizes the failure of the infamous Proposition 19. A major issue that haunted Prop. 19 was the seemingly convoluted way marijuana would have been regulated at the local levels. The new proposal seeks legalization “within a [statewide] regulated model.” It would be a simple, streamlined process, that would hopefully avoid costing valuable resources in the smaller arenas.

Supporters are also optimistic about the timing on this attempt. Since it will be coinciding with a presidential election, voter turnout should be much higher. Ideally, this will shift the voting demographic to the left, as younger, more liberal voters are statistically more likely to attend. The timing of this attempt is even more crucial, as states get desperate for revenue. All across the nation states are raising fines and fees to deal with budget shortages. Economic promise may play a key role in securing voter enthusiasm.

California has long been a fierce battleground for marijuana activism. If recreational use is deemed legal by the state, it would put an enormous burden on federal agencies to police the area. It could be a political stronghold for nationwide success, and a potential tipping point in the public perception of marijuana. In the meantime, it is up to individual activists to chisel away at the plague of prohibition, and help realize this goal.

By: Marijuana News

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