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Unite or Fail: Marijuana Reformers in California May Be Their Own Worst Enemy

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On October 4, the California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, also known and ReformCA, filed papers to place their initiative, the legalization of recreational marijuana, on the November 2016 ballot.

The Control, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016 would remove existing civil and criminal penalties of possession, consumption, and cultivation for adults 21 years and over.

“We believe this effort has the most statewide input and consensus, and thus the greatest likelihood of succeeding on the 2016 ballot,” ReformCA states on its website.

“We’ve filed our proposed initiative language based on the policy priorities and common sense reforms Californians have been asking for for six years,” the group added.

We believe this effort has the most statewide input and consensus, and thus the greatest likelihood of succeeding on the 2016 ballot
ReformCA

The Control, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis Act legalizes the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and 100 square feet of personal cultivation. It would repeal current laws criminalizing the use, cultivation, and sale of marijuana. Those who violate the one ounce provision will be subject to fines not totaling more than $500. Excess amounts, totaling over 16 ounces, will have further penalties.

The measure also expunges the record of those previously convicted with the possession, cultivation, and/or sell of marijuana.

ReformCA states that its initiative would raise tax revenue for education, public health, drug abuse prevention, environmental protection, and community restoration programs in California.

Other initiatives to legalize personal-use marijuana have been filed, and more might be on their way. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), once a supporter of ReformCA’s initiative, might release one of its own, LA Weekly reports.

Lynne Lyman, the DPA’s California Director, said: “We want to have a plan B option that’s ready to go in case [another] initiative doesn’t represent and uphold [our] values and principles.”

Sean Parker, Napster co-founder, is making moves to release his own legalization initiative.

It takes serious money and effort to make it on the November ballot. On average, costs range between $5 and $8 million for each side to either pass or reject the proposition, not to mention the cohesion each side must present come campaign season.

If legalization supporters are split over competing initiative language, it will make it easier for anti-legalization efforts to break up their campaigns with negative attack advertisements meant to suppress turnout.

“It is not yet clear who will have the policy and funding needed to win. We hope that only one initiative makes it to the ballot. If more than one initiative makes the ballot, it is likely they will all fail. We do not want this to happen,” Lauren Vazquez, Deputy Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in an interview for IVN. 

Public support to legalize marijuana in California hovers around 55 percent. A recent Gallup poll reports that nationwide support for marijuana legalization is now at 58 percent.

“Given the patterns of support by age, that percentage should continue to grow in the future,” Jeffrey M. Jones writes for Gallup.

One thing is for certain, if legalization supporters do not throw their hats behind one proposal and work together, reform efforts may continue to fail, despite having support from the majority of voters.

Editor’s note: The author of this article contacted ReformCA for comment, but the organization has not yet responded.

Photo Credit: LaszloLaw

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