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CA Looks Toward Cannabis Legalization in 2016

Lush Green Cannabis Plants
Photo by Gracie Malley


CA Looks Toward Cannabis Legalization in 2016

ReformCA, the coalition with perhaps the best chance of legalizing marijuana in the state of California during the next presidential election, announced earlier this week that it has finally submitted the language of its proposal – the Control, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016 – in an effort push the state, once and for all, out of the trenches of prohibition.

“We believe this effort has the most statewide input and consensus and thus the greatest likelihood of succeeding on the 2016 ballot,” Dale Sky Jones with ReformCA said in a statement. “We engaged in extensive discussions with thousands of stakeholders across California, including community leaders, activists, elected officials, city and county employees and locals.”

In a manner similar to other initiatives, the ReformCA plan would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over, while allowing the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis. However, the proposal differs a bit when it comes to cultivation. Instead of restricting the amount of plants a person would be allowed to grow, the proposal only sets limits on garden area – making it possible for citizens to cultivate up to 100 square feet of cannabis.

If passed, the state would have to create a division of the Department of Consumer Affairs called the Office of Cannabis Regulation, which would be responsible for issuing “provisionary licenses” that would allow the medical marijuana sector to start selling to recreational customers at the beginning of July 2017. At the same time, state officials would be obligated to start drafting the rules of the permanent regulatory structure in an effort to have the full cannabis industry up and running before January 2018.

The proposed tax layout indicates that commercial grow operations would pay $2 per square foot, while $15 per ounce would be added to the first purchaser. A retail sales tax of 10 percent would be applied in the dispensary, which would then be divided equally among the state and local municipality.

There are some interesting differences between the ReformCA initiative and those that have successfully legalized similar markets in four other states. First and foremost, the proposal does not dig too deep into where a person can or cannot smoke cannabis. It simply maintains that that the consumption of marijuana would be acceptable everywhere apart from “in a public street, school, playground, public transit vehicle, or any public property.” What makes this part of the proposal exciting is that by allowing the business community to dictate their own policies when it comes to cannabis consumption, it stands to reason that cannabis cafés and other establishments with a pot-friendly atmosphere would be permitted.

When it comes to gauging stoned driving, the initiative does not provide a definitive THC level for law enforcement to establish intoxication. Instead, it maintains that “a person shall be deemed to be under the influence of cannabis if, as a result of consuming cannabis, his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle or operate a vessel with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances. This standard shall be the sole standard used in determining driving under the influence allegations.”

Once the initiative is cleared by the state to begin collecting signatures, ReformCA supporters will need to gather around 365,000 verified signatures in order to earn a spot on the ballot in the 2016 election.

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