California Needs a Consistent Message for MJ Legalization

Politics
California Needs a Consistent Message for MJ Legalization

California voters might be picking their personal flavor of legalization in November 2016.

Anyone with a couple hundred bucks and basic literacy can attempt to get an initiative on the California ballot. As of today, at least four groups are stating they want to try and legalize cannabis in California, in an echo of divisions that have sabotaged reform efforts in the state since 2010.

The group behind the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2014 – which failed to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot in 2014 — announced today that they want public input on 2016 language. The group wants to be the most inclusive, they say, and is using an open Google Document to solicit ideas.

The MCLR’s announcement follows opening moves by a second group that failed to make the ballot in 2014, or 2012, or 2010 — the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative. That group promises to legalize twelve pounds of pot for personal use and has been working to stoke its base by appearing in a string of videos by HashBar TV.

Thirdly, Californians can now review the California Artisan Cannabis Initiative – 2016 which comes from Northern California lawyer Omar Figueroa, who also participated in failed initiative efforts in years past. The CACI hopes to protect small farmers from post-legalization competition by bigger businesses.

Lastly, there is the most credible group, ReformCA — also called the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform. ReformCA comprises the coalition that formed during 2010′s Proposition 19, and includes California NORML, the NAACP, and Oaksterdam University. ReformCA is working with the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, and has been focused on conducting stakeholder meetings in northern and southern California.

None of the groups have submitted language to the California Secretary of State, which is the first step in the initiative process. According to the state’s own guidelines, the groups should be submitting ballot language by July 7 in order to give themselves enough time for review and signature gathering.

None of the groups are historically likely to make the ballot, but thanks to record-low voter turnout in the 2014 California general election, the bar has never been lower for groups who want to get their issue on the ballot.

It could take $20 million for staffing and advertising to legalize cannabis in California without substantial opposition, and groups will have to report their war chests August 1.

A slim majority of Californians support legalization, experts say, but the strength of their support is weak among the middle thirty percent.

Story by David Downs at Smell The Truth. Check out Smell the Truth for all the latest cannabis news and features.