Recreational Marijuana bill will be on the ballot in November

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Californians will once again have the opportunity to decide if it should be legal for residents to grow, sell and use marijuana for recreational use. It is now legal for medicinal purposes. The Secretary of State determined there were enough valid signatures on the petitions to qualify for the November election.

in 2010 a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana was defeated, but this year proponents of the bill — Prop 64 — see a larger turnout of younger voters for this presidential election.

The bill will allow people 21 years of age or older to sell up to one ounce for personal use and grow up to six plants. There is also a provision to block major corporations from becoming commercial growers, distributors and retailers for five years so small start-ups can try to establish themselves in the market.

There would be a 15 cent sales tax as well as a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce of flowers — buds in users’ parlance — and $2.95 for leaves. The measure also addresses legal issues like drugged driving with estimates for the cost of enforcing marijuana laws. It also has measures to expunge prior convictions or reduce sentences.

The summary reads as follows:

Legalizes marijuana and hemp under state law. Designates state agencies to license and regulate marijuana industry. Imposes state excise tax on retail sales of marijuana equal to 15% of sales price, and state cultivation taxes on marijuana of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Exempts medical marijuana from some taxation. Establishes packaging, labeling, advertising, and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation of marijuana. Prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana to minors. Authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions.

There is a broad coalition of people and groups supporting the ballot measure, including Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Napster founder and former Facebook President Sean Parker, the California NAACP, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) the California Medical Association and the California Democratic Party, among others.

Organizations opposed to legalizing Marijuana for recreational use include the California Hospital Association, the California Correctional Supervisors Association and the California Teamsters Union.

Proponents of the bill have raised over $6 million to promote their cause, while the opponents have raised $135,000.

If the measure passes California will join Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Colorado as states that have made recreational marijuana legal. Florida, Nevada and Maine also have ballot measures to legalize pot this year.

The first time Californians tried to decriminalize Marijuana was in 1972. Forty-four years later the state might finally be able to live up to the mythical image many people already have of the Golden State.