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DPA Files California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, But… [FEATURE]

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #813)

A California marijuana legalization initiative backed by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) was filed Wednesday with the state attorney general's office. But the national drug reform group said it has not yet decided whether to campaign to get it on the November 2014 ballot.

The Control, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana Act would legalize up to an ounce and four plants for people 21 and over and create a statewide system of regulated marijuana commerce. It would also impose a 25% tax on retail sales.

A year ago, in the wake of the legalization victories in Colorado and Washington, major players in the California marijuana reform movement, including California NORML, the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, the ACLU of California, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, and late drug policy reform funder Peter Lewis's representative, Graham Boyd, met in San Francisco and came to a tentative agreement that they would work together toward putting an initiative on the ballot in 2016.

Reluctant to risk another defeat at the ballot box like Proposition 19 in 2010, the movement heavyweights jointly decided to let other states take the lead in 2014 rather than act precipitously and potentially see the reform movement suffer a major blow with another defeat in the nation's most populous state.

But momentum in favor of marijuana legalization was growing quickly, as evidenced by a September Gallup poll's 58% in favor of legalization nationally and polls out of red states like Indiana, Louisiana, and Texas showing majority support. That was also the case in California, with a September Public Policy Institute of California poll showing 60% of registered voters favoring legalization and an October Tulchin poll that had support for legalization at 65% among likely voters.

Those numbers prompted some key players to reconsider, especially given that two other marijuana legalization initiatives -- not vetted by the heavyweights -- are already floating around. The first, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative of 2014, the perennial effort by acolytes of the late Jack Herer, is in the signature gathering phase, but shows little sign of having the financial wherewithal to actually gather enough signatures to make the ballot. The second, the Marijuana Control, Legalization, and Regulation Act of 2014, described by its proponents as "the world's first open source initiative," is pending approval at the attorney general's office after its proponents handed in its second amended version Friday.

Now DPA has stepped in with its own 2014 initiative. "The Drug Policy Alliance is the primary force behind this and primary drafter of this initiative," said Steve Gutwillig, DPA's deputy director of programs. "We wanted to make sure that a responsible and well-drafted initiative would be available in 2014 should a full-fledged campaign become possible. Filing this initiative is making sure that there is a viable initiative vehicle if we go forward in 2014. We think it reflects what the voters will support."

Gutwillig emphasized that no decision to move forward had been made, but that one would be forthcoming early next year.

The clock is ticking. The deadline for gathering signatures for November 2014 is April, and given that state officials have up to 60 days to return a ballot summary and let signature gathering commence, that means the window for signature gathering could be as short as three months. With more than 500,000 valid signatures needed to make the ballot, that would be a daunting and very expensive prospect.

It may still be better to wait for 2016, said Dale Gieringer, the longtime head of California NORML.

"I don't see that this does much for patients or consumers," he said. "The fact that we have three initiatives proposed for 2014 shows a relative lack of unity and a lack of adequate consultation among the various groups. And it's really late in the day."

Gieringer pointed to language leaving the state's medical marijuana system intact as one issue. "We would have two systems, one with a special tax, one without," he noted. "Guess which one most people would patronize. The legislature might respond by getting rid of collectives or dispensaries. Medical marijuana regulation is the elephant in the room, and these are complicated issues that will require consultation by a lot of interest groups."

He also counseled patience.

"People started panicking when those strong poll numbers came out in the fall and started thinking 'Gee, this is really feasible,'" Gieringer said. "But it was so late in the day that people couldn't really get together and plan and vet to come up with a well-conceived plan. This is a stab in the dark, especially until we see how Colorado and Washington play out, especially the tax and regulate part. How is this going to work in the marketplace? Will people patronize highly taxed marijuana shops or not?"

The DPA effort may not be the perfect marijuana legalization initiative -- that elusive creature has yet to be spotted -- but it is out there now, at least as a place holder. The other two initiatives appear unlikely to actually make the ballot, so the decisions made early next year by DPA and its allies are likely to determine if California votes on marijuana legalization next year or not.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Robert Chase (not verified)

The initiative is an improvement over Proposition 19; at least it would not consign young adults to prison for handing a joint to a seventeen-year-old.  That said, what was the DPA thinking in writing a legalization initiative that would make it illegal to consume cannabis, even on private property, if anyone could observe the process from a public place?  There is not a large body of voters who favor legalization only if a pretense is made that they will not ever have to see anyone using cannabis, so no useful purpose is served by putting in such reactionary provisions.  Even the incompetent Denver City Council just reversed itself on the subject of making consumption on private property a crime, but Ethan apparently drew the wrong conclusion.  Among the several provisions in the proposal seeking to curry favor among prohibitionists who will not vote for it anyway, there is a reference to driving under the influence of cannabis, which stands out because it defers to whatever statute the Legislature may pass -- our successful defeat of per se limits for THC in drivers' blood in Colorado apparently did make an impression on the drafters.  Finally, the plethora of purposes and findings in the initiative have no legal effect; in Colorado, the State hierarchy took full advantage of that fact and completely ignored the declaration of the People in our Constitution that cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol -- to the contrary, we are taxing cannabis many times the rate at which alcohol is taxed, despite the fact that it is much safer; worse, the General Assembly and Governor Hack just reinstituted the galaxy of felony statutes against cannabis we had against cannabis before passage of Amendment 64, and people transacting cannabis outside the overtaxed dispensary-system (i.e. largely the poor and people of color) are and will still be subject to being arrested and convicted for those felonies.  Instead of larding the initiative with all that extra-legal verbiage which appeals to no one, succinctly offer the People of California the opportunity to dismantle Prohibition, and I believe that they will take it.

Sun, 12/08/2013 - 8:10pm Permalink
Cory (not verified)

In reply to by Robert Chase (not verified)

“That said, what was the DPA thinking in writing a legalization initiative that would make it illegal to consume cannabis, even on private property, if anyone could observe the process from a public place?”

§ 27090. Protections.

It shall be lawful and not a violation of California law for an adult:
(a) To smoke or ingest cannabis in one’s home or on any privately owned property in a manner that does not endanger others or violate this division;

Section 11362.2. Personal Use of Marijuana.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed or interpreted to permit:
(1) Marijuana to be smoked or ingested in any public place.

Maybe I’m missing something, but nowhere do I see behavior on private property being counted as within the public place.

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 9:33am Permalink
Cory (not verified)

In reply to by Cory (not verified)

Robert, you said “consume.” The growing of plants must be out of public view, but the actual smoking a joint or whatever is not governed by public view on private property, insofar as I can tell.

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 3:01pm Permalink
Letitia Pepper (not verified)

In reply to by Robert Chase (not verified)

The "Jack Herer" initiative, California Cannabis Hemp 2014, is already in circulation for signature, and the voters like it; they are happy to sign the petition sections!  Anyone who wants a petition section to sign can e-mail me at [email protected].

People are tired of being taxed, controlled and regulated.  This is a plant, not  a drug.  People should be able to grow this plant like the herb it is, and use it in whatever way they like, just like people can grow and use grapevines without being taxed, controlled and regulated.  Like a grapevine, cannabis produces leafs that people can use as food, with no psychoactive effects.  Like a grapevine produces fruit that can be turned into an intoxicant (people can legally, with no license, fees or taxes, make 250 gallons of wine a year for personal use), cannabis produces flowers that can be used as a euphoriant  Like grapes and wine, cannabis contains anti-oxidants and flavenoids and terpenes that are good for people's health.  Like a grapevine, it also produces food, but in the form of edible seeds, not fruit

     But cannabis is better than wine and grapes at reducing the risks of cancer; in the presence of whole, herbal cannabis compounds, cells that are becoming cancerous commit  I know from personal family history that regular use of cannabis -- "recreational smoking" -- is a preventative of radiation-induced cancer.   Of three of my aunts and uncles who were all exposed to radioactive dust at the same time and in the same place after WW II, one of them lived 20 years longer than the other two.  That was the one who smoked marijuana "recreationally" for more than 20 years.  With Fukushima's radiation reaching the US, we need broad public access to cannabis, not access that is limited by prices that are increased by the costs of taxation, regulation and control.

      People used to have access to cannabis with no government intervention, no taxes, no licensing.  What's really going on with efforts to "legalize marijuana" is that the 1 percent are trying to control all plants, all seeds, and thereby all medicine and all food, and thereby all people.  Wake up, folks!  The 1 percent, people like George Soros and companies like Monsanto, are who are funding the DPA and groups like NORML to urge us all to vote against our own self-interests.  To read the back-story on how the 1 percent wanted Prop. 19 to pass, for THEIR benefit, not ours, read the story at  And then do you part to support the Jack Herer initiative with a donation of time and money at this website: 


Mon, 12/09/2013 - 11:09am Permalink
saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

Doesn't one of them want to go down in history for driving a dagger into prohibition? Build the best consensus you can among the various reformers, and then throw the power of reason and of money against the control freaks.The attempt Bill Lee led in 2010 came within 7 points in CA, and it was not well funded after the signature gathering phase, and public opinion has apparently moved enough since then to more than make up that gap.

One usually not discussed reason I see to try to move quickly on this is that people who have used weed since the 60's are starting to die in larger numbers every year, and it would mean a lot to some of them to see this part of their life vindicated before they die. 

Sun, 12/08/2013 - 10:31pm Permalink
Robert Chase (not verified)

Maybe not.  You bring up a rather more significant point than I raised (though I think a comparison with Amendment 64 edifying).

The initiative limits people to having four plants because Proposition 19 provided for (among many other provisions) having six plants, and it lost -- this does not reflect the operation of logic.  It makes about no sense to suppose that any significant number of voters who disapprove of six plants will vote for four, and I find it more than plausible that at least some people who use cannabis will balk at approving severe limits to which they themselves would not abide.  The DPA's initiative simply is defective, and many of us could come up with better on the spur of the moment -- no wonder they don't want to commit themselves!

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 12:59am Permalink
Harry (not verified)

In reply to by Robert Chase (not verified)

DPA lends credence to Prohibitionists when they treat it like kryptonite. I can buy 10,000 bottles of booze, but God forbid I should possess more than an ounce of herb. MPP does a better job with initiatives. To be fair, DPA is no doubt basing their asinine provisions on polling. But this is typical of DPA in that they see a major reform imminent, so naturally they have to rush in and set themselves up to claim credit and fundraise around it. I wouldn't mind the shameless opportunism so much if they weren't so disrespectful of the grassroots activists who make it happen. Denis Peron laid the groundwork for Prop 215 and full legalization. NOT Ethan Nadelmann.
Thu, 12/12/2013 - 9:30pm Permalink
President Horse (not verified)

A soldier once told me he rather have his kids smoke pot. that alcohol the worse drug in the world looking forward too Cannabis being legal 2016. be legal down here in DC soon.
Sun, 12/08/2013 - 11:10pm Permalink
Paulpot (not verified)

We give a billion dollars globally to criminals and terrorists every day.

It would make a big difference if California were to legalize next year.

The support is there and only growing.

Go for it.

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 1:48am Permalink
Malcolm (not verified)

The latest Harvard University study, published Dec 4th, 2013 in the journal Schizophrenia Research, adds support to the role of genetic factors in schizophrenia, and states that marijuana use alone does not increase the risk of developing the disorder. The latest findings provide enough evidence for Dr. DeLisi and her team to conclude that "Cannabis is unlikely to be the cause of this illness.”

Source: PIIS0920-9964(13)00610-5 doi:10.1016/j.schres.2013.11.014 Published by Elsevier Inc.

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 8:00am Permalink
Don Berry (not verified)

I can only hope that these early legalization efforts, when passed, will soon morph into something more rational that's based on the reality that pot, no matter how potent, is much less harmful than alcohol or tobacco to users and society. The restrictions on home growing and the absurdly high taxes still reflect a rejection of this basic truth. 

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 10:28am Permalink
Letitia Pepper (not verified)

In reply to by Don Berry (not verified)

These silly limits also reflect a desire to put control of the economic value of this plant into the hands of a few at the expense of the many.  If you wait for such a  situation to improve, once the few have that control, you'll be waiting forever.  If you want a better result, NOW is the time to collect signatures for the Jack Herer initiative, which creates a legal presumption that 99 or fewer plants, and 12 pounds of flowers or less, is for personal use, which is DECRIMINALIZED.  Volunteer at or e-mail me at [email protected] and send me a snail mail address to which i can send you a petition section.

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 11:29am Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by Letitia Pepper (not verified)

Letitia, there's no agenda of putting "control of the economic value of this plant into the hands of a few" -- and how in the world would you know that if there were? People are trying to field an initiative that voters will pass rather than reject. CCHI drew 56% support in a poll released today, which is great. But that's not a strong enough number at this early stage to be confident that it will hold above 50% by the next election day, though it is strong enough to raise the question.

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 4:51pm Permalink
DdC (not verified)

In reply to by borden (not verified)

215 prevents the state from busting people without limits or conditions. NO state initiative can over ride the Feds who have been determined grand rulers of all cannabis commerce. So this statewide Incremental Retardation makes no sense especially since you all know cannabis prohibition started on Nixon rejecting science. Predicting what the voters may or may not do, to back only winners for less than we have now, is illogical. The CUA doesn't require proof of medical conditions and reformers should be educating these backward towns instead of waiting for tinkle-down from the "heavyweights". ID cards are voluntary and only used for dispensaries, who have nothing to do with 215. That are ruled under the jurisdiction of the IRS. That no state can stop with state initiatives. CA 215 is by the citizens and all of these tweaky politician mini laws are invalid. Except zoning laws and again, nothing to stop the Feds. Only a bogus citizens initiative can remove 215 and that is what this will do. The Compassionate Use Act is not a Medical Marijuana Act. Except for silly semantics it is a recreational alternative or alocohol substitute. Outside of selling it.  Prioritizing something lower on the bust list is not legal. But giving states power to bust people the Feds have no interest in is insanity. Stop tweaking 215 and these silly incrementally ill non real law/paychecks for lawyers and reformers. The only logical and sane avenue is to remove cannabis as a controlled substance.

Note. Compassionate Use Act not the MMJ Act

There are no heavyweights over the weight of the people. Apathy comes from empty promises and reform in this country has taken us from over turning the MTA, that never banned medicinal or hemp. To Nixon rejecting his own GOP Commission's findings. While the sheople grazed on hype of a two bit hotel burglary. Shafer was re-evaluating previous Commission findings still available, same as the IOM. Resulting in similar conclusions that cannabis is not by the laws of physics, capable of being a schedule#1 narcotic. It does not fit the criteria. Hemp is a trillion dollar joke, but that money has nothing to do with it? Private prisons need laws like this and typical of thinking busting citizens for limits not included in prop 215. Putting them in state prisons are more Constitutional and moral. more than Federal prisons. Cage is a cage and being caged for Ganja is just wrong. Stop this Gerry Browne nosing the prison industry as he did rejecting the release of non violent drug offenders and suggested a tax to build more prisons. Reform the reformers and I hear Ganja does wonders for Obesity for those heavyweights.

STOP This Cop Science and Incremental Retardation.
Remove Cannabis From the Controlled Substance List.
White House comment line 202-456-1111

California Governor Proposes Massive Prison Expansion
To Avoid Freeing Inmates

* It shall not be necessary for a person to obtain an identification card in order to claim the protections of Section 11362.5

Follow CA or Bust'
Methinks Thou Dost Protest Too Much

Why Police Officers Lie Under Oath

What happens when cops write initiatives.
Drug Czar is Required by Law to Lie
Ending & Pillage Incrementally

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.” - Tolstoy

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 3:59am Permalink
Elephantinetheroom (not verified)

In reply to by borden (not verified)

It is clear to see from colorado that yes there are monied interests trying to monopolize this herb, and they want to lock it up in industrial warehouses at the expensive of massive energy consumption and huge carbon footprint. Don't be fooled by the man wearing a suit he most certainly is a hack for the 1% even IF he doesn't know it!!!
Fri, 02/21/2014 - 3:50pm Permalink
Chadwick (not verified)

Among the grotesque restrictions:
1. One ounce of marijuana per adult 21+ limit [H&S §11362.2(a)(1)]
2. 4 plant personal cultivation / home grow PER Residence/parcel, with none of the plants being publicly visible. [H&S §11362.2(a)(2)]
3. "Notwithstanding any other provision of law," public smoking of marijuana shall be treated as a $100 fine. This INCLUDES medical marijuana. [H&S §11362.2(d)]
4. Automatically imposes a 25% retail tax for adult sales. [RTC §34020]

You're taking us backward with MMJ rights, and are trying to put a purely commercialized version of MJ legalization on the ballot for California to once again reject.

Please fix this initiative!

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 11:37am Permalink
Grey Dread (not verified)

 As a fellow Californian, I say this: How many more of us must go to prison for possessing a plant that grows freely from the ground while you play politics? Do the right thing. Push this damned thing through. Colorado and Washington have opened a door for legalization. Don't be stupid.

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 2:14pm Permalink
Grey Dread (not verified)

1 ounce? Four plants? I get more than an once per plant, dried. I'm 'allowed' by our slave masters to grow 6 plants and possess AT LEAST 8 ounces (technically, we're 'permitted' to have as much as we need, although we'd likely run into trouble with the jackboots if we were to exceed 8 ounces) for medicinal use. An ounce? Congratulations for a boneheaded move. It's guaranteed to fail.

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 2:21pm Permalink
Cory (not verified)

In reply to by Grey Dread (not verified)

You would be allowed to have more than one ounce in your home which you had grown.

Section 11362.2. Personal Use of Marijuana.

(2) Possess, grow, or process four or fewer marijuana plants and the marijuana produced by the plants, provided that:
(A) The plants and any marijuana produced by the plants in
excess of one ounce are kept at the person’s home or other private residence, or upon the grounds of that home or private residence, and are secure from access by a person younger than twenty-one years of age, and are not visible by normal unaided vision from a public place;

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 2:48pm Permalink
Shawnna Robinson (not verified)

I'd like to here from these groups on why their efforts cannot be combined into 1 all encompassing initiative. Why do we have so much infighting in the legalization movement. Fragmentation will lead to all 3 failing. The DPA and others who are financing this latest initiative would do better to put their money behind the initiative that is already in the signature gathering stage. If their plan is to put something on the ballot in 2016, then maybe now they should throw some support to CCHI in 2014. It is the only initiative that addresses not only legalized recreational cannabis, but also medical cannabis and industrial hemp. California is losing businesses every day because of increased cost of doing business in California. A new industry (or two) would do wonders for Califonia's economy, creating jobs and giving consumers some relief from the high prices we pay for imported hemp products. 

I say the best thing for us to do is join together and win.

Mon, 12/09/2013 - 6:32pm Permalink
mike adams (not verified)

i have heard too many people say that marijuana is totally legal in CO and WA.  nothing is furthur from the truth.  the laws are confusing at best, and do not really allow one to legally do much of anything.  people smoke and use marijuana.  to do so it must be grown, processed and distributed.  most do not understand the rules, and here in CA where we have had medical for almost 20 years, most people have no idea if what they are doing is legal, if the dispensary they shop at will get shut down, or if the police can chop their plants down even if they have 'under the limit'.  

a successful legalization effort will allow all adults to grow, share and consume cannabis.  the tax is irrelevant as much more money will be saved in less prosecutions than in taxing.  

maybe we should argue for a grace period in taxing- after all to go from illegal to taxing seems like the government doesn't care about right or wrong, but only about money.

how about we legalize because it is the right thing to do. we can grow any amount of marijuana we wish, and we treat it like farm income, taxable like farm income.  and apologize for taking so long to do so.  our children and the world will thank us.   

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 10:24am Permalink
Mary Jane (not verified)



Did I miss the reason why we should have to pay an additional .25 cents in state tax? Let's see, add that to the current .09 cent sales tax and the additional .05 cent tax the City requires and that makes it .39 cents on the dollar.

What a bunch of crap!  So you are going sell all of our souls just to push this crap through? 

Vote for all three. Sign the petition and get all three on the ballot. Then let the real battle begin. 

Oh and Ethan, stop promising our hard earned dollars to the bloodsuckers. 

Fri, 12/13/2013 - 6:26pm Permalink
DdC (not verified)

"Do you realize the responsibility I carry?
I'm the only person standing between Richard Nixon
and the White House."
~ John F. Kennedy

Nixon's 40 Year War On Drugs... Drugs Won!

Nixon Lie Keeps on Killing

Once-Secret Nixon Tapes Show Why the U.S. Outlawed Pot


AMA Calls For Ending Nixon's Lie?

Richard Milhouse Nixon to Raymond P. Shafer"

Nixon Commission Report Advising Decriminalization of Marijuana Celebrates 40th Anniversary
"You can't depend on the man who made the mess to clean it up."
- Richard Nixon

Shafer Commission (US federal government, 1973) 

Drug Use in America: Problem in Perspective
National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.
Nixon, Marijuana, and the Shafer Commission

Nixon Commission Report

1972 US Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding
US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse

Richard Nixon On Pot

"You know, it's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob?

"You're enough of a pro," Nixon tells Shafer, "to know that for you to come out with something that would run counter to what the Congress feels and what the country feels, and what we're planning to do, would make your commission just look bad as hell."

- Richard Milhouse Nixon

"Marijuana does not lead to physical dependency, although some evidence indicates that the heavy, long-term users may develop a psychological dependence on the drug"
The Shafer Commission of 1970

Tricky Dick's guide to drinking and toking In newly released transcripts, Richard Nixon and Art Linkletter struggle to fathom the differences between demon rum and dope.
Outside View: Nixon Tapes Pot Shocker
One can imagine Nixon's surprise when rumors began circulating in early '71 that the "L-word" was on the table. He responded curtly at his next press conference: "Even if the Commission does recommend that it be legalized, I will not follow that recommendation.

Transcripts of the tape
Nixon's private comments about marijuana showed he was the epitome of misinformation and prejudice. He believed marijuana led to hard drugs, despite the evidence to the contrary. He saw marijuana as tied to "radical demonstrators." He believed that "the Jews," especially "Jewish psychiatrists" were behind advocacy for legalization, asking advisor Bob Haldeman, "What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob?" He made a bizarre distinction between marijuana and alcohol, saying people use marijuana "to get high" while "a person drinks to have fun."

Nixon Launched The 40 Years' War as Election Issue 

Just What Was He Smoking? 

Any change is resisted because bureaucrats have a vested interest in the chaos in which they exist.
- Richard Milhouse Nixon

Nixon Threads
? Nixon lied to schedule Ganja #1
? While Nixon Campaigned, FBI Watched John Lennon
? Nixon's Drug War - Re-Inventing Jim Crow, Targeting The Counter Culture
? Nixon's Treason
? Shafer Commission Report on Marijuana and Drugs
? When leaders act contrary to conscience

"Marijuana is one of the least toxic substances
in the whole pharmacopoeia"
~ Professor Lester Grinspoon,
Harvard Medical School, USA

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 7:55am Permalink

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