California Cannabis Law Reform in 2010

Due to heightened public awareness about legalizing marijuana, Californians are fortunate to have at least four cannabis law reform measures to consider. This abundance has created some confusion and advocates may be unsure what to support.

Taking the measures in order of introduction, Tom Ammiano’s AB 390 was introduced to the state legislature in mid 2009 and failed to gain enough support to get very far. Some advocates expressed concern over the length of the bill (59 pages) and took issue with many of its provisions. Opponents only read the headlines and rejected the entire idea with no further discussion.

Next, on July 15, 2009 a four page proposed ballot initiative entitled The Tax, Regulate and Control Cannabis Act was filed by California Cannabis Initiative (CCI), an all-volunteer effort.

About two weeks later an eleven page proposed ballot initiative, with a very similar title but vastly different language, was filed by Taxcannabis 2010, an effort funded by dispensary owners.

Around this same time a fourth initiative was filed by a Long Beach group that no one seems to have taken much interest in. This measure seems to simply instruct the legislature to take charge of the issue and enact legal reform reflecting majority opinion, an idea many consider highly unlikely.

Emerging from all this activity as the most visionary is the all-volunteer effort by California Cannabis Initiative. For adults 21 and up this Act would repeal cannabis prohibition retroactively, thus releasing thousands of cannabis prisoners and putting an end to the black market for cannabis. The savings for law enforcement are estimated to be at least $981 Million per year.

The Ammiano bill has (predictably) stalled in the legislature amidst opposition from well-funded opponents and little support from cannabis law reformers.

The CCI proposal would tax cannabis $50 per ounce which the state Board of Equalization estimates will add $1.4 Billion to the California Budget. These funds must be used for vital social programs cut by recent budget shortfalls. Adults 21 and up would have no restrictions on private use and commercial activities would be legal and regulated like any other business.

The Oaksterdam initiative, funded by cannabis vendors, would let cities decide if cannabis could be produced or sold, generate very little income for the state budget, restrict citizens to one once of cannabis, only allow a five foot space to grow in, leave cannabis prisoners locked up and create new cannabis crimes while retaining many already on the books.

The time is ripe for cannabis law reform and it falls to this generation to improve the future for cannabis consumers while funding vital social programs and freeing up law enforcement resources to focus on real criminals and crime. CCI is seeking volunteers to continue the work so much time and effort has already been invested in. Right now there is a critical and urgent need for pro-bono help from election law experts to help insure legal compliance. Volunteer online at CaliforniaCannabisInitiative.org