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Oakland Activists File 2010 California Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
Oakland marijuana activists are moving forward on a possible 2010 marijuana legalization initiative. Led by Oaksterdam University's Richard Lee and former Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Co-op head Jeff Jones, proponents today filed a proposed ballot measure with the California attorney general's office that would allow people aged 21 and over to legally possess up to an ounce of pot and grow their own on garden plots no larger than 25 square feet.
"California's laws criminalizing cannabis have failed and need to be reformed," said Lee. "Cannabis is safer than alcohol," says Lee. "Cannabis doesn't cause overdose deaths or make people violent like alcohol. It makes sense to regulate cannabis like alcohol, instead of prohibiting it completely." The initiative would also let cities and counties decide whether or not to tax and regulate cannabis sales and commercial cultivation. If a city or county decides not to, sales and cultivation within area limits would remain illegal, but possession and consumption of small amounts would be allowed. To make the November 2010 ballot, organizers must gather 434,000 valid voter signatures by December. That will be the first major test of the initiative's viability. Another indicator of the measure's support will be if major funders step up to back it. When the Chronicle wrote last month about initial planning for the initiative, drug reform organizations were apprehensive that the proposed initiative was too soon, that the polling numbers weren't high enough, and that a loss could take the steam out of the legalization push for years to come. This week, the Chronicle will be revisiting those groups to see where they now stand. The Drug Policy Alliance said Tuesday it would have preferred to wait until 2012, but hopes it wins. "The momentum to end decades of failed marijuana prohibition just keeps building," said Stephen Gutwillig. "While the Drug Policy Alliance would prefer such an initiative to appear on the ballot in 2012, when public support will likely be even greater than it is now, we'd of course like to see it win. There's simply no denying the intense groundswell for change."

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