California May Legalize Marijuana on 2014 Ballot


Riding the momentum built by successful legalization measures in Colorado and Washington, California appears to be moving toward a 2014 ballot vote that could legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.

Last week California Attorney General Kamala Harris released a generally positive summary of the Marijuana Control, Legalization, and Revenue Act.? The summary also highlights savings of ?hundreds of millions of dollars? for the state.

Analysis stated:

?Reduced costs in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Potential net additional tax revenues in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually related to the production and sale of marijuana, a portion of which is required to be spent on education, health care, public safety, drug abuse education and treatment, and the regulation of commercial marijuana activities.?

If the second review process of the initiative’s language is released without significant changes by Jan. 31, advocates of the legislation will be free to begin gathering the required signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

California previously attempted to legalize marijuana with Proposition 19 on the November 2010 ballot. The measure was voted down by 54% of the population. Theories about the proposition’s failure ranged from a lack of urgency (penalties for pot use are not strict), fear of federal crackdown (that should be relieved by the apparent lack of interference in Colorado and Washington), and low youth voter turnout (which advocates should work aggressively to turn out).

If approved, the state of California will join Oregon and Massachusetts in subsequent attempts at marijuana reform through ballot initiatives. Public support in these communities, coupled with proven success in implementing legalization in Washington and Colorado could spell success for marijuana reform in the largest state to date.

Lindsay Jakows was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a 2012 graduate of Pepperdine University, where she organized a campaign for a recognized LGBT student organization on campus. After graduation she took a job with the Student PIRGs, organizing a student-run voter registration drive in Denver, CO and environmental campaigns in Western Massachusetts. Currently Lindsay resides in Northampton, MA, where she works for a local environmental non-profit. She enjoys coffee, cats, and Harry Potter. Her views expressed here are hers and hers only.