Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

Cautious Effort to Legalize Marijuana in California in 2016

By ballot initiative.

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Regardless of one's take on the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on Friday forbidding states from banning same-sex marriage, it's clear the ruling didn't come in a vacuum. Analysts said the court "created" a new civil right, but public attitudes have shifted dramatically in recent years. The court simply gave its blessing to a cultural change that already has taken place.

We see another long-in-the-making social change on the issue of marijuana. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found 55 percent of likely California voters in favor of legalizing weed for recreational uses. Support for such an idea was barely perceptible decades ago.

But courts and legislatures usually lag far behind changing public perceptions. California legalized the use of medical marijuana with Proposition 215 in 1996. But as this column reported recently, the state still hasn't figured out a simple way for dispensaries to pay their taxes (they are banned from having bank accounts, but the Board of Equalization usually doesn't accept cash). This year's Legislature may finally create a "licensing and regulatory framework" for medical marijuana(AB 266), nearly two decades later. Meanwhile, the public has moved beyond "medical" marijuana.

In 2012 Washington and Colorado voters approved legalization for adults and in the 2014 midterm elections voters did the same in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C.There are plans for initiatives in seven other states in 2016. Legalization supporters have filed a few initiatives in California — but none are likely to cause consternation among drug warriorsbecause they may not have sufficient financial backing.

I attended a meeting of legalization heavy hitters recently in Sacramento. Going under the name of Reform California, this group is trying to agree on a "unity" initiative that not only satisfies the diverse group of legalization supporters, but is careful enough to win a statewide election. "Politics is the art of the possible," said Jim Gonzalez, a senior adviser. "The California electorate is still very cautious." He wants to make sure the language is palatable to assuage any fears it will turn California into Amsterdam.

But there's no doubt we're seeing a "cannabis revolution," he adds, as public support grows. Gonzalez compares himself to Rip van Winkle: He was campaign manager for Proposition 215 and now he's involved in this effort again — but finds himself in a far different political climate.

Reform California hasn't issued ballot language, but its website details some general principles. Any initiative must provide protection for existing medical marijuana patients, make adult use of marijuana legal in limited amounts, allow a limited right to cultivate it, create a uniform tax system — while preventing sales to minors and combating drugged driving.

The group is waiting to see the fate of AB 266 given that any changes in marijuana-related law would need to be addressed in its ballot language. Supporters also are waiting for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a legalization supporter, to issue in early July the final report from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy.

The commission's progress report, released in March, listed many thorny issues that need to be resolved. For instance, it addressed testing for drugged driving: "THC, the main psychoactive agent in marijuana, is fat-soluble and can remain in the body and blood for a long time… . A strict system that penalizes drivers based on THC levels in the blood could have the unintended impact of penalizing drivers who are not impaired."

California voters were asked to legalize marijuana in 2010. But Proposition 19 would have "created a patchwork system where marijuana would only be legalized by city or county," explained Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). A person could leave San Francisco with a legal product — and face felony charges a mile away in San Mateo County.

Nevertheless, that flawed initiative garnered nearly 47 percent of the vote. We'll see what happens, but I'll return to the gay marriage analogy — the battle already is over. It's just a matter of time before the political and legal systems recognize it.

NEXT: Not Baking a Wedding Cake Leads to $135,000 Fine for Hurting Couple's Feelings

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  1. “the battle already is over”

    State needs to victimize some more citizens first. Thise prisons aren’t going to fill themselves.

    1. 55% of Californians are for legalized weed and the other 45% make a living from illegal weed one way or another,

  2. That woman in that picture is what happens to our women after they have been corrupted by negro jazz musicians smoking the devil weed.

    1. ( . Y . ) or GTFO.

    2. They wear two bikini tops?

      1. An old stripper’s trick.

  3. The court simply gave its blessing to a cultural change that already has taken place.

    No, it didn’t, and this is exactly what Richman missed (or ignored) in his article as well. It didn’t reaffirm the right to free association or even prevent states or the fed from interfering in marriage as an institution. It created a specific right to marriage for a particular class of people. The difference is that, now, a religious institution could be forced to perform a marriage ceremony for two homosexual participants regardless of its tenets. In other words, the priest/rabbi/imam/whatever’s right to religious freedom must needs be violated in order to meet the requirement now established by the court. This is a classic example of positive rights versus negative rights.

    Besides which, culture doesn’t need the court’s “blessing” and wasn’t looking for it. That’s how culture works. Acceptance of gay marriage was already a fait accompli by the time this went to the SC.

    1. The court simply gave its blessing to a cultural change that already has taken place.

      Which explains all those referenda supporting gay marriage that passed by huge margins, and the legislatures that rushed through bills to license gay marriage.

      ProTip: If the court has to take action to make something happen, then the cultural change hasn’t taken place. By definition.

      But courts and legislatures usually lag far behind changing public perceptions.

      Sometimes they do. On pot legalization, they are lagging some, but probably not as much as you think, given opinion polling showing bare majority support only recently.

      On gay marriage, its hard to say they didn’t jump way out ahead of the parade.

      Another ProTip: Don’t confuse the little slice of the culture/society that you marinate in with the culture/society as a whole.

      1. Well, the people said yes to gay marriage in Maryland, Maine and Washington state in 2012. Before the courts started the dominos falling, it probably would’ve passed by popular vote in most of the other states eventually.

    2. What particular class of people? Two straight men or two straight women are also allowed to get married now. Will preachers perform a ceremony for two same sex straights?

    3. The difference is that, now, a religious institution could be forced to perform a marriage ceremony for two homosexual participants regardless of its tenets.

      I’ll believe it when I see it.

      1. I can see why some people are concerned about it. But I’m with you. Religious freedom is pretty clearly protected. The only people “forced” to do anything are government employees or officials. And they can get a new job if they don’t like it.

        1. Give it time.

  4. I have a natural right to control my own body.

    The US Constitution does not give government any authority to tell citizens what they can or can’t put into their body.

    Therefore the war on drugs is not only a violation of our natural rights but un Constitution.

    Why is that so hard to understand?

    Well – why is it???

    And now I will calm down and smoke some reefer.

    1. You have a right to get a marriage license and force everyone to recognize your marriage. You have a right to have the government pay for whatever deviant art you produce.

      But control your own body for any purpose than having an abortion? No, sorry that just won’t do.

  5. The tree guys took out my cable line by accident. Commenting via my phone is a less than ideal experience. However, seeing the woman in the picture for this article has made me happy.

    1. Mobile tethering, bro! Has saved me the indignity of mobile browsing countless times.

      1. My home desktop doesn’t have wireless or Bluetooth. I could use my work laptop to connect to a neighbor’s Comcast hotspot, but I vowed not to turn on my work laptop this weekend.

    2. “However, seeing the woman in the picture for this article has made me happy.”

      Just remember: the best thing about stoner chicks is they’ll do anything for weed. The worst thing about stoner chicks is… They’ll do anything for weed.

      1. Said no one who knew real live stoner chicks ever.

        I’m sure it sounded good in your head though, brah. The true worst thing about stoner chicks is they’ll kick your ass at your favorite video game while smoking your weed and wearing your clothes. We can all agree, that’s just wrong.

        1. true dat:)

        2. Wearing clothes?!? What is this, a morgue?

          1. You have to make a run to Taco Bell sometimes, dude, and contrary to what those damned commercials imply, drive-through workers do not actually have a sense of humor in regards to no pants.

            1. Dude, that’s what delivery is for. You can answer the door in a robe if you’re shy. Speaking of which, I think I’m going to get some Super Silver Haze delivered. Because I can.

              1. Bitch.

        3. The true worst thing about stoner chicks is they’ll kick your ass at your favorite video game while smoking your weed and wearing your clothes.

          And then, after kicking you arse and smoking your weed, they go and sleep with your roommate and not you.

      2. You’re thinking of crack whores, not stoner chicks.

      3. If she smokes, she pokes.

    3. It also made me happy. In my pants.

  6. She should replace her double bra with a pair of cannabis pasties

    1. Her expression says she is considering going topless. And has Reason done a “Things We Learned at a Topless Protest” yet?

  7. Reality: Johnny’s on fire, what do we do?
    Politicians/Media: Spray him with gasoline, that’s what we always do when things are on fire.
    Reality: That just made everything worse and has resulted in a lot of collateral damage as well and Johnny’s still on fire.
    Politicians/Media: Well spray more gasoline. That’s all we know how to do.

  8. At least The Peoples’ Republic of California is well governed, and so I’m sure that they will get the policy right, with foremost concern on legislating within the boundaries of their charter and carefully respecting the natural rights of their subjects.

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  10. tl;dr

    Greenhut is the best writer on this site, though. The best.

    1. Thanks Bania.

  11. Let the wanking begin.

    But when Joe Stapelton and Jim Cato tried to get a license Thursday, they were escorted out.

    “It’s turned to anger when you get kicked out of the county clerk’s office where you pay taxes,” said Cato. “Just because you want to ask about a marriage license, that’s wrong.”

    Many county clerks in Texas immediately began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Lang initially said she believed it was morally and biblically incorrect to hand out marriage licenses to gay couples and said the Hood County office would not do so.

    Lang’s updated statement says her religious beliefs prevent her from issuing such licenses, but she says her office will comply with the law and do so. She said it could take up to three weeks to get the correct paperwork, according to KXAS.

    For the record, bumfuck no where Refugio county (population approx 7000 – in the whole freaking county) had the paperwork complete and ready to go at least two days ago. A little perspective on how complicated this process might be for a low-pop rural county.

    1. Kindly don’t change the subject away from the personalities this young lady is displaying.

    2. Refuigo County is mainly comprised of two large ranches owned by two old Texas moneyed families. Oil, land and cattle, banking were histirorical wealth builders..

      One of them has a spread down in South Texas that has been in their family so long that title was originally a Spanish land grant. The other family at one time owned the largest privately owned oil refinery in the world.

      Just a little useless trivia some might find interesting.

      1. Also, the birthplace of Nolan Ryan!

    3. Let the wanking begin.

      Way ahead of you, sister.

  12. A strict system that penalizes drivers based on THC levels in the blood could have the unintended impact of penalizing drivers who are not impaired.”

    If its foreseeable, its not unintended. It may or may not be a desired outcome, but its not unintended.

    And, I am far from convinced that punishing pot smokers for smoking pot, under the pretext of punishing them for impaired driving, isn’t exactly what is desired by a pretty big chunk of the LEO/Total State.

  13. ” Analysts said the court “created” a new civil right, but public attitudes have shifted dramatically in recent years.”

    So public attitudes create new rights or change the meaning of words in the Constitution, do they?

    1. Wrong. Voters hitting the LIB button in the rare honest election–or forcing the risk, expense and effort of counterfeiting the outcomes in our more common unverifiable elections–are what change the meaning of the Constitution. “The law says whatever you can get a court to say it says.”–Robert Heinlein, 1954.

      Until you receive a hashtag password that will enable you to look up how your vote was counted–in the paper or online–you have no more clue how those votes are counted than a did Lysander Spooner. It could be argued that ideas change the votes that change the laws, but I’ll lay odds on money and votes in OUR mixed economy any day. The constitution, quoth the current Senile Court, says that handing out copies of the 13th Amendment to conscripts is criminal, but that conscription itself is NOT involuntary servitude.

  14. Govt don’t like competition http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/…..e/33221922

    1. another- Men face charges for pot delivery

      By MATT ARMSTRONG
      Daily News Staff Writer

      Two men were arraigned Saturday on charges related to an alleged marijuana delivery service.

      Arthur R. Castillo III, 28, of Ketchikan is charged with one count each of third-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and fifth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, which are Class B and C felonies and a Class A misdemeanor, respectively.

      Santos Armando Minjarez Jr., 24, of Fresno, California, was arraigned on the same controlled substance charges as Castillo, in addition to a Class A misdemeanor charge of driving while license revoked, according to court records.

      Police arrested Castillo and Minjarez around 1 p.m. Friday after receiving “multiple complaints from businesses and people throughout town,” according to Ketchikan Police Department Sgt. Eric Mattson.

  15. OT and old, but wonderful.

    Ashleigh Ingle, a proud feminist and an anarchist, argued that because of patriarchal gender norms women were not allowed to release gas in public because of men’s unreal expectations of women to be clean and feminine. Furthermore she articulated that if a woman was to fart in the presence of a man and the man responded by farting louder than the woman, than that would be rape.

    “By farting louder the man is using passive aggressive violence to position himself as dominant, this intimidates the woman to subconsciously not release as much flatulence and thus the woman fearing for her safety doesn’t fart as loud as a sign of submissiveness, this in turn contributes to rape culture and women being oppressed.”

    #fartrape

    1. They ought to do a study on odor characteristics related to gender. And women are so fart oppressed they are forced to lie about it and ascribe it to someone else.

    2. Oh, for fuck’s sake. If you need to fart, fart. Why do people need to overthink everything? If a woman farts near me, I might have to suppress a chuckle. I’ve never seen anyone use force to prevent or punish a woman farting, so I am not sure what “not allowed” is supposed to mean.

      1. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a female coworker during my short stint at Jack in the Box a couple decades ago. The subject of farting came up, and she said “Oh, I love to fart. And queef too. Especially after sex.”

        1. A week or so later I bedded her best friend, and afterwards she lighted a cigarette. I asked “Do you always smoke after sex?” and she replied “I dunno. I never checked.”

          1. Are you here all week? Should I try the veal?

      2. This is what happens when people like her are no longer beaten, kept down, and marginalized. A few morons actually take them seriously and it ruins our society. Now everything is this kind of absurd bullshit or being chastised by the media into dignifying trannies. FFS, there needs to be a limit.

    3. Radical feminists are the most boring kinds of crazy people. They can’t even come up with any interesting or clever subjects in their imaginary conversations with the patriarchy. Really? Farting? It’s like a dreary Seinfeld. The political philosophy about nothing.

    4. I guess all rape culture isn’t bad.

  16. What I don’t get is a cash biz trying to figure out a way to pay taxes. That’s like a pig in mud trying to figure out how to get into the poison ivy.

  17. Reform California hasn’t issued ballot language, but its website details some general principles. Any initiative must provide protection for existing medical marijuana patients, make adult use of marijuana legal in limited amounts, allow a limited right to cultivate it, create a uniform tax system ? while preventing sales to minors and combating drugged driving.

    Probably what they want, then, would be marijuana bars?so many of them that there’d always be 1 in walking distance (so no drugged driving) & not too big a congregation in any 1 neighborhood.

    Hard to have a limited right to cultivate w/o impeding privacy, because if the right is a general one, you’d have to be allowed to do it at home, but then it couldn’t be limited w/o inspection. That’s why home distilleries aren’t allowed. But if you had to have separate premises open to inspection to cultivate cannabis, how would that be worth anyone’s while unless they were growing enough to sell a lot?

    1. I’m guessing what he means by “limited right” is probably just a restriction on number of plants.

      1. But unless you were open to inspection, how would anyone know?

        1. They wouldn’t.

          You have a limited right to brew beer and make wine at home, federal law pegs it at 200 gallons household/year. There’s nothing requiring you to give up your right to privacy.
          Alaskans have had a limited right to cultivate marijuana since the 1970’s, 25 plants under what was found a right to privacy under the State Constitution. You really only hear of people getting an “inspection” if they caused enough attention to themselves that they were caught dealing.

    2. Drunk driving definitely generates more bail bond, attorney’s fees, insurance money, medical fraud and militarized police force justification. You wouldn’t want to cut into the alcohol industry’s market share, no sireee!

  18. It’s just appalling that legalization is an inevitability here, yet the legislature won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. It could be legalized tomorrow and no one outside the usual histrionic suspects would bat an eye. Why we have to wait another two years until 2017 (whatever passes in 2016 probably won’t go into effect right away) for what is surely going to happen is way beyond any mortal’s reasoning.

    1. Two years equals 104 paychecks for a bunch of lard-ass guards to push slop between the bars toward incarcerated teenagers. Then there’s the bloodsucking attorneys–pupa stage before the chrysalid from which will emerge the looter prohibitionist Senator. They gotta pay the mortgage and damn sure aren’t going to EARN that money when armed parasitism is the legal option approved by Landover Baptists and Creation Scientists everywhere. Talk about appalling!

  19. I realize you like the result, but the ends do not justify the means.

    By this, I not that “Analysts said the court “created” a new civil right, but public attitudes have shifted dramatically in recent years.” the fact that public attitudes change should not mean anything if we actually wanted to have a CONSTITUTIONAL republic. This leads back to the “living document” that progressives love so dearly (at least when it “lives” to expand the government).

    This decision is complete fabrication of new rights give CERTAIN BEHAVIOR special sanction. It root, laws on marriage are intended to incentivize certain behavior in the same way tax credits incentivize electric cars. If state and federal laws can’t favor one behavior over another, then most laws are unconstitutional. If state and federal laws CAN favor one behavior over another then this court decision is complete BS.

    Although I would like to see government out of the behavior manipulations business, the fact is that this decision is complete BS.

  20. I object to calling a bunch of cowardly backers of dry killers “drug warriors.” If Jacob can be a conscientious objector, then “drug warrior” ought to apply to the enemy combatant thwarting the Thought Police and bringing in the Xmas cheer–that dashing, romantic defiant fellow navigating the reefs in a puny shallop in contempt of wind and storm. It is the bootlegger and moonshine cooker who risks life and limb to enable the red-blooded to sneer at the looter politicians and their sumptuary laws, while slimy bootlicking bureaucracies glint in shadows behind militarized goon squads at the victims they would rob, murder and enslave! Let’s see some respect for the American language here.

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  22. Translation: Watch libertarians piggyback onto liberals to pretend they are accomplishing something.

  23. “…wants to make sure the language is palatable to assuage any fears it will turn California into Amsterdam.” …. if only California could turn itself into Amsterdam, they would be a clean, safe, modernized, pro-business, and libertarian environment. I am an American expat living and working in Amsterdam, and Amsterdam if far better than any California city, until I am proven wrong. Amsterdam is not a cesspool of liberalism. Rather, it is a clean, safe, exciting, vibrant city, with a lot of lush green parks…and, of course, the red light district and safe coffeeshops! California would do itself a favor to be more like Amsterdam 🙂

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