June 13th, 2009 – SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Californians could legally possess up to one ounce of pot and cities could sell and tax the drug under an initiative marijuana advocates want to place on the state’s 2010 ballot.
The Control, Regulate and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 is being pushed by pot activists who sense a positive shift in public sentiment toward the federally banned substance. A recent Field Poll found that 56 percent of California voters supported legalizing marijuana for recreational use and taxing its proceeds.
Backers of the ballot proposal include entrepreneurs in the state’s medical marijuana industry, which has become lucrative since California voters legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996.
A leading proponent is Richard Lee, an Oakland pot dispensary owner and founder of Oaksterdam University, a medical marijuana trade school. As California cities confront plummeting revenues and the state’s massive budget crisis, voters will be open to new ways to fill public coffers, Lee said.
“We can’t waste money enforcing laws that over 50 percent of people don’t think should be in place,” he said.
Supporters expect to finalize the proposal’s language by the end of the month. The latest draft recognizes the right of anyone age 21 or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. Local and state authorities could raise that amount.
Residents would also have the right to cultivate up to 25-square-foot plots of marijuana on private property, but only for personal consumption.
At the same time, cities that do not want marijuana within their limits could continue to bar sales, though they would still have to permit possession.
For the initiative to reach the November 2010 ballot, supporters must gather more than 433,000 valid signatures from registered voters. Lee said he believes they could complete that process by January.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat from San Francisco, is also pushing a bill in the state Legislature that would regulate marijuana much like alcohol.
Lee said a ballot initiative is quicker than waiting for any bill on the contentious issue to grind through the legislative process.
“We believe that the people lead the politicians on this issue,” he said.
Passage of the measure would test the Obama administration’s hands-off policy toward enforcing federal marijuana laws when they conflict with state statutes.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced earlier this year that federal agents will now target marijuana distributors only when they violate both federal and state laws. California and a dozen other states allow medical use of pot, but none allow possession of the drug for purely recreational purposes.
Federal law outlaws marijuana cultivation, use and sales. By By MARCUS WOHLSEN. Source.