It’s been six years since the last attempt to legalize marijuana for adult use in California – and while Proposition 19 did not pass in 2010, the efforts for 2016 seem to be much more successful. This comes down to a lot of different factors, but the one thing that has probably brought in a number of Democratic endorsements is the fact that it was written with a much more careful approach in mind.
If passed, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act would allow adults 21+ to possess, grow and use cannabis if they so choose. Individuals would be able to have up to an ounce on their person at any given time and be able to grow up to six plants indoors at their home. It would also create restrictions for a commercial industry that would tax all businesses up to 15%. While possession would be legal, smoking in public or while driving would still be illegal.
Since the petitions started circulating for this initiative last year, they have been receiving endorsements that the 2010 initiative never saw – and some that backed them previously. Currently the Act is endorsed by American Civil Liberties Union of CA, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of California, the California Medical Association and even the national group NORML. Even Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders said he would vote for the bill if he were a California resident.
Now, to top it off, the Democratic party voted this weekend and announced their endorsement of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Along with the statewide party, the LA Democrats and the Long Beach Democrats individually decided to endorse the initiative as well. This is probably the biggest endorsement that the campaign will get – and in 2010 the Democratic party stayed away from endorsing the initiative all together.
There are only a few parts of the initiative that have Democrats worried – one being the potential for increase in accidents involving cannabis in the states of Colorado and Washington, who have both had legal marijuana programs running for a couple of years now. Again however, the initiative does attempt to account for that (as best as anyone can until a better way to determine intoxication levels is available).
Another worry, mentioned by an attorney in Fresno, is the fact that individual cities and counties will have the option to opt out of the commercial end of legalization. By not allowing cannabis sales and cultivation, these areas will leave people legally allowed to possess cannabis but no way to purchase it without going to the next city or county over. However, there is hope that these areas will see how well things can and will work in neighboring cities and counties and maybe that will convince them to lift any bans they may implement at the start.
Overall, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act has a lot of support within the state of California. With an endorsement as important as the entire Democratic party of California and recent polls showing around 60% in favor of legalization, this initiative has a much better chance than its predecessor. It’s starting to look like 2016 will be the year for California to join the growing retail cannabis industry, which it originally gave way to when legalizing medicinal cannabis twenty years ago.