California petition to legalize recreational cannabis for adults 21 and up filed for 2014, but nobody’s sure what to do with it


The Drug Policy Alliance Wednesday filed ballot initiative language last week that would legalize up to an ounce of pot and four plants for adults over 21 in California as well as allow for recreational cannabis sales with a tax of up to 25 percent.
But as of now, nobody seems willing to push it. According to a blog post at last night, DPA officials say they aren’t sure if they are even going to push for the measure right now due to remaining shell shock from failure of 2010’s Proposition 19 that would have legalized recreational cannabis in the Golden State.

This new push for 2014 stems back to 2012 after Colorado and Washington both approved bills allowing recreational cannabis sales, possession and use (as well as cultivation in Colorado). Stop the Drug War says that post-election, California pot policy wonks from NORML, Coalition for Cannabis Reform, the California ACLU, Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Policy Project decided to hold out until the next presidential election year in 2016.They said to let other states push the issue in the meantime, instead of setting California up for another major loss that could hurt momentum.
Of course, one doesn’t need to wait around for the big guys to decide when to bring legalization measures to the people. The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative of 2014 is currently gathering signatures and a second, “open-source” initiative filed by the Marijuana Control, Legalization, and Regulation Act of 2014 is awaiting approval from the state AGs office. And now, in response to that, the DPA has submitted their language.
“The Drug Policy Alliance is the primary force behind this and primary drafter of this initiative,” said Steve Gutwillig, DPA’s deputy director of programs. “We wanted to make sure that a responsible and well-drafted initiative would be available in 2014 should a full-fledged campaign become possible. Filing this initiative is making sure that there is a viable initiative vehicle if we go forward in 2014. We think it reflects what the voters will support.”
Basically, of the momentum is there from the other two measures, the DPA will jump on and run with their bill in 2014. But that isn’t a for-sure deal, and not everyone. Dale Gieringer, the longtime head of California NORML, questioned if it things were even ready to move forward.
“I don’t see that this does much for patients or consumers,” he said. “The fact that we have three initiatives proposed for 2014 shows a relative lack of unity and a lack of adequate consultation among the various groups. And it’s really late in the day. People started panicking when those strong poll numbers came out in the fall and started thinking ‘Gee, this is really feasible. But it was so late in the day that people couldn’t really get together and plan and vet to come up with a well-conceived plan. This is a stab in the dark, especially until we see how Colorado and Washington play out, especially the tax and regulate part. How is this going to work in the marketplace? Will people patronize highly taxed marijuana shops or not?”