Those behind last year's failed ballot initiative to legalize the growth, sale, possession, and regulation of marijuana for California adults are ready for round two. The Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform 2012 (CCPR 2012) wants to build on the variegated support that Prop 19 garnered with the goal of introducing a new ballot measure to allow cities and counties to tax the sale of decriminalized cannabis. The committee announced Friday that several key figures will return for the 2012 campaign including former spokeswoman Dale Sky Jones who will be the chairwoman of the new coalition.
Alice Huffman, head of the California NAACP, Antonio Gonzalez, founder of the Latino Voters League and Dan Rush, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union official, who worked to build labor support during last year's campaign, will all be redoubling their efforts. Stephen Gutwillig, the California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will be another carry-over whose ties with medical marijuana activists should provide crucial funds.
In an email sent to supporters on Friday, Jones wrote:
"The purpose of our organization is to learn from our experiences in 2010 and take the lead toward victory in 2012. We will expand our coalition, raise the necessary funds to move toward a possible 2012 campaign, and conduct polling and other opinion research that will guide the drafting of a new initiative."
Prop 19 was supported by the California NAACP, the National Black Police Association and the Latino's Voters League in order to end discrimination that targets young minorities for marijuana-related arrests. Certain labor leaders got behind the measure which promised to secure more union jobs.
Though new legislation didn't materialize from their efforts, proponents of Prop 19 raised national awareness of the ramifications of marijuana legalization by drawing worldwide media attention and catalyzing a heated debate over certain inconsistencies with federal drug policies and their enforcement. A poll conducted after elections indicated that the measure, which lost 46 percent to 54 percent last November, might have passed if supporters had raised more money to reach swing voters. The CCPR 2012 people are convinced that broader support will come in a presidential election year when, statistically speaking, more liberals show up to the polls.
The main stumbling block for any new Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act will be, ironically enough, medical-marijuana dispensaries and growers who worry that decriminalization will cut into profits. On Saturday, the committee held a conference in Los Angeles to reach out to medical-marijuana activists, this, after a similar conference in Berkeley.
"What many thought was an unlikely dream in 2010 is poised to become reality in 2012,” wrote Jones in an email to supporters of the previous initiative. “We will need your ideas, your passion and your support going forward."
The committee will be holding a series of meetings to draft a new ballot measure. We can also expect a new campaign website soon.