Is California going to “pot” in 2012?




Yes, the pun was intended.

Even though Prop 19 lost at the polls this past November 54%-46%,    cannabis/marijuana legalization activists have mobilized themselves to bring another legalization initiative to the 2012 ballot.   While the biparitsan advocates of prohibition won the battle this time around,  the dialogue about marijuana legalization is not going away.  Come 2012, as many as five states (Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California) are planning to put marijuana legalization initiatives on their ballots.

Right now,  there are two proposed legalization initiatives that are seeking to be on the 2012 ballot.  The first initiative is the Marijuana Tax and Regulation Act of 2012 authored by the interesting duo of 1998 Libertarian gubrenatorial candidate Steve Kubby and retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray.    Where Prop 19 would have allowed for adults 21 and over to possess an ounce of marijuana for personal use ,  this proposal allows for:

Steve Kubby

1998 Libertarian gubenatorial candidate Steve Kubby

Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray (ret.)

“(a)ny individual, association, or collective group, not producing more than 99 plants or 50 pounds of marijuana per year shall be exempt from any winery model regulations, fees and taxes, except for income taxes and state sales taxes, if they apply, and

(b) No regulations, taxes or fees shall be enacted or imposed which are more severe or restrictive than those for comparable and reasonable usage in the commercial wine grape farming and winery industry model, including for farming, planting, cultivating, irrigating, harvesting, processing, brokering, selling, distributing, and establishing of cooperatives or collective associations.”

In addition, this initiative also allows for the manufacture and sale of industrial hemp, which was one of former 70th AD Assemblymember Chuck DeVore’s pet issues.  (And one of the few issues I actually agreed with him on):

“The people further direct and order the California state Legislature to enact reasonable regulations and establish reasonable taxes for the establishment of the farming, industry, distribution, and sales of marijuana with a THC level of 0.3 percent or higher, using the grape winery industry as a model, as long as the results support these intentions, purposes and goals; and to provide for the farming, industry, distribution, and sales of industrial hemp, which is hereby defined as marijuana with a THC level of below 0.3 percent…”

You can read their entire preliminary text here:

The Hempfather, Jack Herer (RIP)

The other initiative is the California Cannabis Hemp and Health Initiative 2012 (CCHHI 2012) written by Eddy Lepp, George Clayton Johnson and Michael S. Jolson who were the authors of the 2010 Jack Herer Initiative that failed to make the 2010 ballot.   From what I have read,  there is a little more emphasis here on legalizing the manufacture and sale of industrial hemp that there is in the previous initiative.    Right now, the US accept more hemp exports than any other country.  Thanks to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 led by William Randolph Hearst and his timber interests,  the manufacture of industrial hemp in the US is illegal.

You can read the entire draft of CCHHI 2012 here:

As any marijuana user knows (myself included),  you can’t get much of an high off of  a strain that has less than 0.3% THC.  You could try, but you’d be wasting a lot of Zig Zags, breath and time with your efforts.  You’d have a better chance of getting drunk drinking O’Doul’s.

From what I have read so far, both initiatives have their good points and their flaws.  What killed Prop 19 was that it was vaguely worded and caused a lot of confusion with voters and with people in the medical marijuana community.  The small personal plot size and the one ounce personal possession limit were a couple of things I did not like about Prop 19.   For me, it’s not so much about tax revenue and jobs (which may help) as it is about personal freedom and not having the government dictate what I can or cannot put into my body.  Whether it’s OG Skywalker Kush or a Wendy’s Triple Cheeseburger,  what I decide to put in my body, as a legal adult over the age of 21,  should not be a criminal offense provided that I do not harm or coerce other people to participate in my chosen behavior.

Since 1971,  we have spent billions of dollars trying to enforce the current drug laws while the underground drug cartels continue to recruit children to sell their product to minors and drug use continues to rise.   We are fooling ourselves if we believe that we can solve this problem by saying these words: “Just Say No.”     Either one of these initiatives is definitely an improvement over Prop 19 and the current failed status quo that members of both major political parties have been peddling.    With 2012 being a Presidential election year,  the chances of marijuana legalization winning at the polls this time around are a lot better.  Keep in mind that Prop 215, the initiative to legalize medical marijuana, was passed in 1996.  1996 was a Presidential election year.

Many political activists on both sides are now seeing defending the status quo as a losing strategy.  Especially since there has been a lot of rhetoric about limited government and personal freedom floating around from these firebrand politicians lately.

Marijuana legalization in the US is not a matter of “if” anymore….it’s a matter of when.

(Note:  No other political blog in Orange County covers legalization and drug policy issues more than the Orange Juice Blog.)


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