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California to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana

(Haven Daley via AP)

(Haven Daley via AP)

On Tuesday, California’s secretary of state announced the proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in the state had secured enough signatures to go on the ballot.

“Its supporters have raised $3.53 million, The Sacramento Bee reports — nearly 31 times more than what opponents have raised,” NPR’s Merrit Kennedy noted. “The initiative would allow adults age 21 and older to possess, transport, and purchase up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants for recreational use.”

Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, expressed his confidence in the initiative.

“Today marks a fresh start for California, as we prepare to replace the costly, harmful and ineffective system of prohibition with a safe, legal and responsible adult-use marijuana system that gets it right and completely pays for itself,” Kinney said. “A growing majority of Californians support a smarter approach to marijuana and we’re gratified that voters will finally have the opportunity in November to pass comprehensive, common-sense policy.”

The AUMA has been endorsed by more than 20 organizations and representatives, including the California Medical Association, the Drug Policy Alliance, California Young Democrats, and U.S Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael).

“Already, the diverse coalition of endorsers in support of AUMA is the largest ever formed in support of marijuana policy reform in our state,” AUMA observed.

If voters accept the proposal, there would be a significant reduction of local and state government costs for marijuana law enforcement which “could exceed $100 million annually,” Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, estimated.

“Opposition is led by the Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies, made up of law enforcement and health groups including the California Police Chiefs Assn., the California Hospital Assn. and the California State Sheriffs’ Assn,” Patrick McGreevy of the Los Angeles Times wrote. “The groups warn legalization will lead to more drugged-driving and allow dealers of harder drugs to have a role in the new industry.”

Despite predicted opposition and a similar proposal’s rejection in 2010, “the new measure has a better chance because it adds more regulation at the state level rather than letting locals dictate what happens, and comes after the state has approved a regulatory system for medical marijuana growing, transportation and sales,” McGreevy reported.

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