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Marijuana Initiatives Max Out

With 3 legalization initiatives and 1 medical marijuana regulation initiative all aiming for the same 2012 ballot and competing for the same scarce funds, none of them have been able to raise the $2 million the signatures alone would require. Time has almost run out for gathering 505,000 valid voter signatures by 4/20/12.

The Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act (RCPA), would cancel marijuana statutes and punishments for adults, 19 and older, while leaving in place driving while impaired and sales to minors, and create a stand alone California Cannabis Commission to devise a future regulatory system for commercial cannabis.

Small gardens would not be subject to regulation for up to 3 pounds and 100 sq ft grow canopy per adult, that is, 6 pounds and 200 sq ft for mom & pop, 15 pounds for a collective of 5, etc. The exemption floor could not be lowered, only raised, and only if you take your crop to the market for sale is there any relevance of the regulatory system to small gardeners.

Regulate Marijuana Like Wine (RMLW), which has folded now, had an elaborate regulatory scheme to not cooperate with DEA raids and ban all advertising, which is inconsistent with how wine is regulated. As a Libertarian Party project, there was virtually no cannabis community input in the wording, similar to Prop 19.

The third legalization initiative in honor of the late Jack Herer, California Cannabis Health and Hemp Initiative (CCHHI), has a clause to free all pot prisoners, and thus it is safe to say, does not have universal voter appeal. It has been circulating for 15 years with no real funding or broad community support. Their deadline, like RCPA's is 4/20.

The celebrity endorsements for RCPA from Willie Nelson, Grace Slick and Dr. Lester Grinspoon, and the country endorsements of most of the marijuana-related rural organizations — Emerald Triangle Coalition, HumMMAP, MMMAB, Mendocino MeCCA (coalition of dispensaries), Veterans for Peace (Mendocino chapter 116) — are of great value.

Rural marijuana producer counties now have a firm foundation in place for the future, unlike with Prop 19, where there was virtually no support in rural growing regions for Richard Lee's patchwork vision that would not have changed a any law, let alone ending prohibition.

But our house is divided...a perfect set-up for the prohibitionists. We have been unable to overcome our legacy of disunity although many activists see and concede the disastrous results. Clean Green's Chris van Hook and I connected at the “Thrive” conference this past weekend in SF. When Dr Frank Lucido, Atty Kendra Miller and I announced where things were at, Chris expressed “shock, shock, shock” at the news that all 3 were not already on the ballot. He had been telling people that his position was to vote for all 3.

His presumption must have been, anyone who announces their intent to make the ballot after getting an Attorney General title & summary is presumed to be able to get the funds to pay for signatures.

That is not the case. Marijuana forces had made the ballot only once since 1972 with Prop 215 in 1996, and then again in 2010 with Prop 19, which had little support from country growers due to zero input & accountability.

As if all these adversarial relationships among people with common goals wasn't enough, the Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Initiative (MMRCT) entered the fray in the past month, way too late to make the ballot but with the backing of a roster of standard organizations (NORML, ASA, Union of Food & Commercial Workers), despite no rural support.

MMRCT proceeded to compete for the same dwindling funds for the purpose of setting statewide regulatory standards for medical marijuana. They report they've received over a million dollars in pledges and have now switched gears to lobby the CA Legislature to adopt the wording of their initiative.

It is possible it was always their intent to lobby the Legislature for “companion legislation” with money they raised for a ballot initiative, preparing to abandon the initiative approach if they couldn't find the funds for the signatures. Where are we at now that RCPA, the only viable initiative left standing, has only 5 weeks remaining to get the required signatures?

We have launched a concerted fund-raising campaign this week in southern California with a week of 30-second talk radio spots, as well as plans for an email release to network groups (Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, NORML Women's Alliance, Oaksterdam University, ASA, WeedMaps, among others) to alert those constituencies that we need their help now with funds for professional signature gatherers. Prop 215 got an infusion of cash in the last 5 weeks, enabling it to get enough sigs to make the ballot in the 11th hour. We can do the same, since marijuana is probably the singlemost ideal issue for petitioners, considering its popularity.

RCPA has also arranged to meet with Willie Nelson, based on his prior endorsement, at his Fox Theater concert in Oakland this week. We are also reaching out to Bob Weir, Snoop Dogg and other celebrity possibilities...leaving no stoner unturned.

For those who want to help get signatures or funds for signatures, go to You need a legal sheet of paper (8 1/2 x 14) to download the 2-sided petition, sign it, then again sign it as witness at the bottom and send it in to 360 Grand Ave #361 Oakland 94610.

2012 is a Presidential ballot which will tend to bring out cannabis-friendly voters, whereas 2014 will be considerably more conservative. Waiting until 2014 also means another 70,000 annual arrests for two years...i.e., 140,000 more victimizations of innocent people who are treated as criminals by a system that belongs in the “reefer madness” dustbin of history.

Waiting until 2014 also means hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on law enforcement each year and an annual loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. These numbers are from the AG's summary of RCPA.

All wars eventually end, even one that has lasted 75 years after arresting 22 million people nationwide for a plant. RCPA is designed to withstand a federal preemption challenge by simply repealing bad laws, which states have the right to do, regardless of federal law.

Now is the time to appeal to the voters to end prohibition in California, just as they did with medical marijuana in '96. What a different world it would be — culturally, economically, medicinally, socially, and spiritually — if this long senseless marijuana war were ended, once and for all, by voter approval. If we can reach the voters, we believe they are with us.

If we cannot reach ballot status in 2012, those of who are committed to the ballot initiative approach to freedom and sanity will go on to 2014 with the lessons we've learned and a much expanded professional team & budget to accomplish the job.

Ending marijuana prohibition is now at the center of the California agenda. The five proponents' goal always was and is to repeal cannabis prohibition across the board rather than dismantling the apparatus piecemeal through a patchwork of multiple municipalities. We have accomplished putting that strategy front and center for a future unified initiative. That is not nothing. That is the seed that rocks the cradle of the next generation. It will flower when we water it.

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