Last Update: October 1, 2014
MPP forms ballot committee to support legalizing and regulating marijuana in 2016
The Marijuana Policy Project has filed a committee with the California Secretary of State to support a 2016 ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in California. MPP will be part of a broad coalition of local activists, community leaders, organizations, and businesses working to pass a measure similar to the one approved by voters in Colorado in 2012. The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, has already begun raising funds to help place the measure on the November 2016 ballot.
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The current legal status of marijuana in California
Under California law, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is a civil infraction similar to a speeding ticket. While this is a more reasonable approach than many states take, California is still punishing tens of thousands of responsible adults for possessing a substance that is objectively safer than both alcohol and tobacco. A December 2013 Field Poll found that 55% of Californians believe marijuana should be legalized.
One of the most tragic failures in the war on marijuana is how hard it impacts racial minorities. The ACLU’s 2013 report entitled “The War on Marijuana in Black and White” shows that where blacks represent 6.7% of the population in California, they account for 16.3% of the arrests for marijuana, while rates of usage are virtually the same between black and white populations.
While California’s marijuana laws are not as draconian as some other states, the state is still wasting precious resources on citing, arresting, and prosecuting marijuana offenders, while ensuring the profits of marijuana sales go to criminals instead of responsible businesses and the state’s coffers. And despite its reputation as being easy-going with respect to marijuana possession and use, California arrested over 21,000 people in 2012 for marijuana-related offenses. Let your legislators know it’s time they stand up for taking a more humane and fiscally sound approach to marijuana policy.
Medical marijuana regulation effort falters
While California was the first state to pass a modern medical marijuana law, it has fallen far behind other states when it comes to licensing and regulating medical marijuana providers. In 2014, two efforts to regulate medical marijuana fell short, including Assemblyman Ammiano’s positive AB 1894 and Sen. Lou Correa’s flawed SB 1262, which was backed by the League of California Cities and the California Police Chiefs Association. As a result, the burden for regulation of medical marijuana businesses remains with local communities, and many around the state are now deliberating medical cannabis regulations.