Drug Policy

California Voters Will Be Asked to Legalize Pot

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It looks like a marijuana legalization initiative will be on the ballot in California this fall. Today the backers of the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act turned in nearly 700,000 signatures; they need just 434,000 to qualify the measure for the ballot. The Los Angeles Times notes that "a Field Poll taken last April found that 56% of voters in the state and 60% in Los Angeles County want to make pot legal and tax it." It also suggests that "if passed, the initiative would put the state in conflict with federal law," which is not strictly speaking true. As Drug Policy Alliance attorney Tamar Todd noted in response to a Los Angeles Times editorial that made a similar claim a couple weeks ago, California is under no obligation to replicate federal drug prohibitions. Under the Supreme Court's expansive reading of the Commerce Clause, the federal government would have the authority to prosecute people for growing, distributing, and possessing marijuana even if the drug were no longer banned by state law. But it would not have the resources to do so consistently.

I noted the initiative campaign's signature-gathering prowess last month.