How old is the oldest pot-smoking registered voter in California, and how long has he or she been waiting for a chance to putt the lever in favor of legalizing marijuana?
This November, we'll find out. Nearly 15 years after California passed Prop. 215, America's first statewide medical-marijuana law, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 will most likely be on the ballot, designed to end cannabis prohibition in California once and for all.
Oaksterdam impresario Richard Lee has led the campaign for signatures. The founder of Oaksterdam University, America's first cannabis-cultivation "trade school," and the proprietor of several Oakland-based medical-cannabis dispensaries, Lee reports that over 700,000 signatures have been collected in favor of putting the initiative before voters— far more than the 433,971 required. In fact, collecting the signatures took only two of the five months allotted for the process. Even more encouraging, recent surveys put support for marijuana legalization in California at 56 percent—more evidence that the time is right to put this issue before the electorate.
The signatures were submitted to the California Secretary of State in February. Assuming that the requisite number is validated, the initiative will appear on the ballot in November 2010. Also, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won't be running again thanks to term limits. Given the state's majority support for cannabis-law reform and major budget shortfalls, marijuana legalization—and its attendant tax revenue—could very well become a pivotal issue in the gubernatorial race this year.
What will the Cannabis Act of 2010 do?
The proposed law allows people 21 years or older to possess, cultivate or transport marijuana for personal use; permits local governments to regulate and tax the commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years or older; prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years of age; and maintains the current prohibitions against driving while impaired.
A summary of the estimated fiscal impact on state and local governments by the Legislative Analyst's Office and the state director of finance found savings of up to tens of millions of dollars annually on the costs of incarcerating and supervising marijuana offenders, as well as unknown but potentially major tax-, fee- and benefit-assessment revenues to state and local governments from the production and sale of marijuana products.
Check http://taxcannabis2010.org for more information about the initiative.