Organizers: Californians to vote on marijuana legalization

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, December 14, 2009 22:54 EDT
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According to organizers in California, next year the state will vote on a measure to legalize marijuana.

Though the state’s bar is set high for ballot measures to be put before voters, requiring some 433,971 valid signatures, marijuana legalization activists claim to have collected 680,000, according to a published report.

“People were so eager to sign,” organizer Richard Lee told The Los Angeles Times.

“The initiative would also allow cities and counties to adopt their own laws to allow marijuana to be grown and sold, and the localities could impose taxes on any aspect of marijuana production and sales,” the paper reported. “It would make it legal for adults over 21 years old to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow it in a 25-square-foot area for personal use.”

According to a recent Angus Reid opinion poll, 53 percent of voters nation-wide support legalization, while 43 percent are opposed.

California lawmakers have predicted the state would generate over $1.5 billion in tax dollars over the first year marijuana is legalized. California is currently grappling with its worst budget crisis in a generation.

“A poll taken for the initiative’s proponents by EMC Research, an opinion research firm in Seattle, found that 51% of likely voters supported it based on language similar to what will be on the ballot, but support increased to 54% when they were read a more general synopsis,” the Times added.

Despite widespread support, however, the bill would almost certainly run into thorns with federal law, which classifies marijuana as an illegal substance.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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