Michael Jolson, left, and Berton Duzy, promoters of the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014 (photo: 420Magazine)
Could there be better timing for a legalize-marijuana campaign in California than this: polls showing public support at 55%; union backing from moneyed interests; recognition of it as a civil rights issue by the NAACP; even a hint that the Tea Party might have a hankering for some leafy green substance that doesn’t have to steep in a pot.
Well, that was June 2010, when Proposition 19 was slated for the November ballot and it looked like California was about to make history as the first state to legalize pot.
That didn’t happen. The “Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Act” lost 53.5% to 46.5%, although supporters outspent their opponents by $3.7 million.
Four years later, the legalization of marijuana, flying high in the polls and arguably more right for the times than ever, may again be featured at a mid-term election—guaranteed to draw a low turnout among the habitually low-turn-out-prone younger demographic that is the key to victory. Colorado and Washington state each passed marijuana legalization laws of varying potency last year.
The proposal has sort of been around for a while. California NORML noted its presence in December 2011 when doing a roundup of five marijuana initiatives vying for signatures to get on the November 2012 ballot. It was described as “a sweeping measure by the late Jack Herer that has circulated but failed to qualify in repeated attempts over twenty years.”
The new law would decriminalize marijuana and hemp use, possession, cultivation, transportation and distribution, but also includes other provisions and directives.
· Case-by-case review of people charged or convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses with an eye toward reduced sentences, amnesty, parole and probation.
· The Legislature would pass laws that license and tax commercial marijuana sales.
· Medical marijuana treatment available for all ages.
· Bars state or local assistance in enforcing federal marijuana laws. (Pot remains a federal crime.)
· Marijuana testing could not be used as “a condition of any right or privilege including, employment and insurance.”
· A portion of tax revenues would be spent on marijuana-related research.
The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Department of Finance say the fiscal impact of the law would be positive. Local and state governments would save hundreds of millions of dollars in criminal justice expenditures and reap hundreds of millions more in tax revenues.
Hemp News identifies ballot measure proponents Berton “Buddy” Duzy and Michael Jolson as a 58-year-old Simi Valley contractor and a 45-year-old Santa Cruz medical marijuana activist, respectively. The publication said the two have a core group of 10 to 15 volunteers who network with 500 other enthusiasts. They hope to eventually be able to use as many as 3,000 volunteers statewide.