Yesterday I posted an article about a big marijuana legalization initiative filing that was expected to occur today. That filing did indeed occur, and you may have heard about it. Most media outlets are referring to it as the 'Sean Parker marijuana legalization initiative,' named after the initiative's most high profile backer. The initiative has the support of a lot of other people, one of which is California's Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. His endorsement came very quick, which isn't surprising considering the initiative is written in a way that mimics the findings from a report that Gavin Newsom and his team put out recently about marijuana reform.
This is extremely big news for not only California, but for the rest of the country as well. I heard an estimate once that half of the entire marijuana industry in America is located in California. It's the biggest domino of them all, and if it falls, it could open the floodgates for recreational marijuana legalization across the country. I'm very curious to see too what role Sean Parker plays with the campaign, and if it results in any changes to the marijuana policies of the companies he works with.
Below is Gavin Newsom's press release talking about the initiative:
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy, released the following statement in support of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, a ballot measure filed today by official proponents Dr. Donald O. Lyman, MD, and Michael Sutton:
"I am pleased that this thoughtful measure is aligned with the Blue Ribbon Commission's recommendations, and presents California its best opportunity to improve the status quo by making marijuana difficult for kids to access. It is backed by the broadest coalition of supporters to date and I believe that Californians will rally behind this consensus measure, which also serves to strengthen law enforcement, respect local preferences, protect public health and public safety, and restore the environment."
In July 2015, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy chaired by Lt. Governor Newsom released an extensive report detailing the complexities of marijuana regulation in California.
The report includes fifty-eight recommendations for policy makers and the public to consider to promote public health and safety, protect youth, consumers, workers, the environment, and reduce the size of the illicit market. The report explores in great detail the complexity of moving a large, developed, and largely unregulated multi-billion-dollar industry out of the shadows and into a regulated mainstream to improve public health and safety, and protections for youth.
The Blue Ribbon Commission also highlights that legalization would not be an event that happens in one election but rather, it would be a process that unfolds over many years requiring sustained attention to implementation.
The goal of the Blue Ribbon Commission is to provide expert research and analysis to help the public and policymakers understand the range of policy issues and options to consider when drafting proposals to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. Neither the Commission nor its report makes the case for or against legalization, nor does the Commission itself endorse ballot measures.
The Commission's work has been recognized by the Editorial Boards of the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Orange County Register, and the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, among others.
Below is the initiative's press release announcing their filing:
Today, a broad coalition of community and business leaders, physicians, environmentalists and social-justice advocates filed with the California Attorney General's office a comprehensive statewide ballot measure to control, regulate and tax the responsible adult use of marijuana.
The measure (known as "the Adult Use of Marijuana Act") is based on the collaborative input of hundreds of state and local stakeholders and the recommendations of the Lieutenant Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy - and it builds on the landmark regulatory structure for medical marijuana recently passed by a bipartisan majority of the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown (SB 643, AB 266 and AB 243).
The official proponents of the measure are:
- Dr. Donald O. Lyman, MD, award-winning physician, member of the California Medical Association and former Chief of the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Control at the California Department of Public Health and
- Michael Sutton, longtime conservationist and environmental attorney, former President of the California Fish and Game Commission and former Vice President of National Audubon Society
"The physician community and the people of California in general have increasingly voiced support for ending marijuana prohibition and bringing greater control, oversight and consumer protections to our marijuana policies," said Dr. Lyman, who authored the California Medical Association's historic 2011 Background Paper on Marijuana. "This is the most comprehensive and carefully-crafted measure ever introduced to control, regulate and tax responsible adult-use of marijuana anywhere in America - and it will make California healthier, make our streets and communities safer and better protect our children."
"A regulated and reliable framework of marijuana policy will bring illicit cultivation out of the shadows and allow us to protect and restore California's precious land, water and wildlife," said Sutton, who also founded the Marine Stewardship Council while at World Wildlife Fund. "It's good for the environment, good for our water supply and good for natural resources."
The land and water protections in the measure received specific praise in joint and individual letters from The Nature Conservancy, Audubon California, California Council of Land Trusts, California Native Plant Society, California State Parks Foundation, California Trout, California Urban Stream Partnership, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Habitats League, Pacific Forest Trust, Trout Unlimited and Trust for Public Land.
"The environmental provisions of the Adult Use Act will represent a major step forward in protecting California's rich natural resources in the future," said the Nature Conservancy in an October 29, 2015 letter.
The full measure also received enthusiastic support from respected social-justice and industry organizations.
"This initiative provides a model for the country," said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "It breaks new ground not just with its pragmatic regulatory provisions but also in directing tax revenue to prevention and treatment for young people, environmental protections and job creation in underserved communities."
"California voters are ready to end marijuana prohibition in 2016 and replace it with a more sensible system," said Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "That is exactly what this initiative will do, and that is why MPP is proud to support it. We look forward to working with the proponents and doing whatever we can to help pass this measure and make history in California next year."
"California has long been at the forefront of economic innovation and legal reform," said Nate Bradley, Executive Director of the California Cannabis Industry Association. "We believe this effort has the support and resources to mount a successful campaign for responsible adult-use. This measure will allow California to take its rightful place as the center of investment and innovation in the cannabis economy. We are ready to become a regulated, tax-paying, job-creating industry that will benefit all Californians."
What do TWB readers think of today's news, especially California residents? Do you think that this is the initiative that everyone should rally behind? I personally think so. With the deep pockets, and support from the Drug Policy Alliance and the Lieutenant Governor backing this initiative, I think it has the best chance of winning on Election Day. I'm sure there will be others that disagree, and that's fine, I just hope that people take into account everything that it will take to legalize recreational marijuana in California in 2016 (the biggest of which is a TON of money).
You can read a copy of the initiative filing at this link here.