Marijuana legalization in California is long overdue. California first voted on marijuana legalization in 2010. Proposition 19 failed on Election Day, but it started the conversation in California and beyond about what it would take to successfully legalize marijuana. Since then California marijuana legalization has failed to gain traction. No initiative made the ballot in 2012 or 2014. 2016 is the year that many activists and organizations are aiming for, but competing initiatives could doom California’s legalization efforts, as it has in the past.
There are currently four campaigns working to legalize marijuana in California. Below is a brief description of each, per SF Gate:
The group behind the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014 – which failed to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot in 2014 — announced today that they want public input on 2016 language. The group wants to be the most inclusive, they say, and is using an open Google Document to solicit ideas.
The MCLR’s announcement follows opening moves by a second group that failed to make the ballot in 2014, or 2012, or 2010 — the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative. That group promises to legalize twelve pounds of pot for personal use and has been working to stoke its base by appearing in a string of videos by HashBar TV.
Thirdly, Californians can now review the California Artisan Cannabis Initiative – 2016 which comes from Northern California lawyer Omar Figueroa, who also participated in failed initiative efforts in years past. The CACI hopes to protect small farmers from post-legalization competition by bigger businesses.
Lastly, there is the most credible group, ReformCA — also called the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform. ReformCA comprises the coalition that formed during 2010-s Proposition 19, and includes California NORML, the NAACP, and Oaksterdam University. ReformCA is working with the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, and has been focused on conducting stakeholder meetings in northern and southern California.
California is going to be the most expensive state to get an initiative passed in. Estimates are as high as 20 million dollars. A volunteer-only effort is not going to be enough to get on the ballot, nor is a medium-sized financial foundation. If California is going to legalize, it needs to be an ‘all hands on deck’ effort, and everyone needs to work together. I get that there are multiple visions for what marijuana legalization should look like in California, but something needs to happen to bring everyone together. Even the most well financed drug reform organizations can’t do it on their own. It would be a shame to see another election pass without a legalization vote in California. I will be keeping my fingers crossed that a fair, reasonable solution is found.