|Image by Cooljuno411, Wikimedia Commons|
|Will California be the first state to legalize?|
Richard Lee, founder of an effort to qualify a marijuana legalization initiative for the November 2010 election in California, says the campaign is on track to make the ballot.
Lee, who runs cannabis training institute Oaksterdam University in Oakland, said more than half a million signatures have already been collected. According to Lee, the target of 650,000 signatures will be met by early December.
Ken Masterson, partner in a petition management firm in San Francisco, confirmed Monday that the original plan to complete signature-gathering for “Tax Cannabis 2010” by Christmas is ahead of schedule, according to the Ventura County Star.
To qualify for the ballot, 433,971 valid signatures will be required. Masterson said he checked a random sample of 50,000 signatures and discovered a validity rate of more than 70 percent. At that rate, the goal of 650,000 total signatures would be enough to qualify.
According to state law, petitions must be turned in by Feb. 18, 2010 to make the November ballot. Organizers plan to submit the signatures by mid-January in an attempt to make the marijuana measure among the earliest to qualify.
The ballot committee reports contributions just over a million dollars, almost all of which came from Oaksterdam University and S.K. Seymour, LLC, the partnership that owns the business. George Zimmer, CEO of the Men’s Wearhouse clothing chain, has contributed $10,000, according to the Star.
If the measure passes, Californians over 21 will be allowed under state law to possess, cultivate and transport up to an ounce of pot for personal use. Local governments would have the discretion to decide whether to permit marijuana sales and to impose regulations and taxes. The Legislature would also have power to impose statewide regulations.
Marijuana use would still be banned in public places and in the presence of minors.
While 13 states have legalized medicinal marijuana, recreational pot is still illegal in all 50 states as well as under federal law.