Wait Until 2014: Marijuana Legalization All but Dead in California

Categories: Marijuana
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Not this time
Union Pulls Plug on Medical Reform, Other Ballot Measures Starved For Cash; Legislature, Ammiano Last Hope for Reform Now

Nobody likes to celebrate with a loss, but for the medical marijuana movement, 2010 and the historic defeat of semi-legalization measure Proposition 19 already look like the good old days.

Feast turned to famine quickly: Multiple marijuana legalization and medical marijuana reform ballot initiatives vied this year and last for a spot on voters' ballots in November. But United Food and Commercial Workers and Americans for Safe Access withdrew on Thursday their Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, and leading proponents of legalization initiative Regulate Marijuana Like Wine are already looking ahead to 2014.

But with the federal Justice Department's crackdown on California cannabis in full swing, that may be too long to wait, leaving all eyes now on an outspoken lawmaker from San Francisco to save cannabis in California.

Tom Ammiano, you're their only hope.


Oakland union organizer Dan Rush, chief of the Medical Cannabis and Hemp division of UFCW's national chapter, told the Sacramento Bee on Thursday afternoon that the union was "pulling the plug" on the MMCRT, which would have created a state-level bureaucracy to oversee and regulate the state's medical marijuana industry not unlike what Alcoholic Beverage Control does for liquor.

Cash was the main reason, ASA executive director Stephanie Sherer told SF Weekly on Thursday evening: with about six weeks left before signatures were due in Sacramento -- initiatives need over 500,000 valid signatures to qualify; campaigns usually submit 750,000 or more by the April 20 deadline -- the campaign had $1.25 million of the $2 million needed just to pay signature-gathering companies to qualify.

More cash would be needed to run a campaign, so the call was made to focus on Sacramento, said Sherer, who added that the campaign started late and nonetheless "achieved [its] dream: to get something in the Legislature."

"We're not dropping anything," said Sherer, who said the money will be spent on a "public awareness campaign" to sway lawmakers' minds. This may work now when it did not before: leery lawmakers in Sacramento wanted proof that the often divisive and divided medical marijuana movement was not "a mile wide and an inch deep," she said. "Well, we're not."

ASA and UFCW raised the cash in increments of $500 to $10,000 from medical marijuana dispensaries, dispensary organization, patients, advocates, and pot growers big and small, she told SF Weekly (financial disclosure forms have yet to be filed with the Secretary of State).

It's now up to the Legislature and Ammiano, who introduced a bill very similar in language to the UFCW-ASA effort. It has yet to be called for a hearing in committee. A spokesman for Ammiano was not immediately available for comment late Thursday.

Ammiano will need Republican cosponsors as well as support from his Democratic colleagues in order to make any headway.

Meanwhile, the three legalization measures are still starving for billionaires. A few weeks ago in LA, proponents for Repeal Cannabis Prohibition, Regulate Marijuana Like Wine, and the California Cannabis and Hemp Health Initiative issued a "statement of unity" that included a clarion call to rich people. All ballot initiatives were in desperate need of cash; they remain so today.

In 2010, recall, Richard Lee of Oaksterdam University spent millions of his own money to put Proposition 19 on the ballot. The initiative won more votes than Meg Whitman, but was still defeated on the ballot, 46.2 percent to 53.8 percent.

Once on the ballot, he received big money contributions from George Soros, Peter Thiel, and other progressive-minded angel investors; those rich pot-loving folk have yet to pony up this year, and it now appears they won't.

Though "anything can still happen," said Steve Kubby, one of the proponents for Regulate Marijuana Like Wine. "I'm all about miracles."

And he might need one. RMLW has $54,000 in the bank and about 200,000 signatures, said Kubby, an "eyeball estimate, mind you" he gave via telephone after looking at a stack of papers in his South Lake Tahoe home. "We have to do an audit, but I can tell you we have a pile."

The challenge now is to figure out how to get a voter initiative on the ballot and how to win a campaign without a billionaires' largess. That has not been done: Soros bankrolled Proposition 215 in 1996.

"I do not understand how a person with billions who enjoys cannabis even on occasion, and who sympathizes with the damages of cannabis prohibition on our society, would not take a shot at real reform for 2012 in the nation's most populous state," said East Bay-based organizer and activist Mickey Martin, who used to head up edibles collective Tainted, Inc. before a federal bust. "For a few million bucks we could have cannabis freedom for 12 percent of America in one effort. Someone needs to write that check."

Martin pointed to 2016, a presidential cycle, as the more likely "next time around" for cannabis legalization or reform. Kubby pointed forward to 2014, when fundraising and signature-gathering can be done in the cheaper offseason.

"We'll raise the money ourselves, between now and 2014," he said. "I can tell you with certainty, if we don't get onto the 2012 ballot, this will definitely be on the 2014 ballot."

So keep the faith, marijuana-users. And try to befriend some billionaires while you're at it.

Follow us on Twitter at @chroberts_yeah, @TheSnitchSF, and @SFWeekly


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23 comments
FEDUP
FEDUP

I am so sick of our stupid government...

No Sweat
No Sweat

Forget the legalization issues.  Just make sure you have a good stock of clones and seeds.  It's too easy. ;)  This plant will never effectively be banned.

Jose
Jose

Occupy protestors smoking marijuana can now be categorized as terrorists and the techology that's been dehumanizing Afghans can now dehumanize Californians causing:

1. More violence spilling over the Mexican border.

2. More deaths from synthetic marijuana due to real marijuana being illegal.

3. More criminals as thousands of years of normal human behaviour is declared to be a crime.

4. Higher electricity consumption as growers cultivate marijuana under lamps instead of under the sun.

5. Increasing loss of respect for law enforcement.

6. Higher potency marijuana to increase smuggling efficiency.

Good job California!  Looks like you are going to rot in hell.

Muzzy Lu
Muzzy Lu

How about just $2.99 for great e-book on medical marijuana: MARIJUANA - Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. This book has great recipes for easy marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints. 

Muzzy Lu
Muzzy Lu

Just legalize marijuana! It is much better for people than prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco or bad illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, and meth. Great e-book on medical marijuana: MARIJUANA - Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. This book has great recipes for easy marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints. goo.gl/iYjPn  goo.gl/Jfs61

Mike Goldberg
Mike Goldberg

 "I do not understand how a person with billions who enjoys cannabis even on occasion, and who sympathizes with the damages of cannabis prohibition on our society, would not take a shot at real reform for 2012 in the nation's most populous state"

I agree with this (anyone with 100 mil is more like it), one of them could and should do it with a flick of their hand, and make history by finishing the job Bill Lee and supporters started in 2010, but it's no excuse for the rest of us not taking care of it by ourselves. A lack of unity and maybe organization is doing us in.

2014! That's an off year, remember? Young people don't show in nearly the same numbers. It should be this year!

Jose
Jose

I think overall the Soros donation hurt the legalization process.  Soros is seen by many as a shady character and there was the appearance that he was trying to use drugs to destroy America.

Patrick Thompson
Patrick Thompson

no, he's not seen as shady except by the mental patients who think fox is news.

Jose Gonzales
Jose Gonzales

Mental patients or not, Fox has the viewers.

The fall of CNN is, in part, due to the continuing split of political opinions in the country where people want news and opinion that closely matches their own. But it is mainly due to the rise and dominance of the Fox News Channel.

http://www.webpronews.com/cnn-...

Legend
Legend

I didn't hear anything about a fund where we can donate money. A website where we can easily access like www.420rescue.gov where we can go and make financial contribution.

Federale
Federale

LOL, potheads dependant on the 1%ers.  Go figure.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Drug producers and dealers are going to campaign against this the same way they did when Prop 19 was up for a vote.  They have a ton of money and a lot to lose.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The California White Hippie Cartels

Joe Manning
Joe Manning

 Yeah I gotta admit I didn't see that coming. So many of the people who opposed Prop 19 claimed to have gotten into the biz to help others and yet they were all monetarily motivated, no matter what window-dressing they put up.

Sherri
Sherri

Jeez is this "writer" dramatic or what? This is California and we keep going. We survived the quakes we will survive this.Chris Roberts is starting to have a very sketchy way of dealing with the MJ legalization situation. Maybe someone else should be writing about this topic instead of Chris.  Chris seems to be appearing to give support in one sentence and bashing the movement in the next. Aren't there any more decent MJ writers at SFWeekly?

Jose
Jose

California is still suffering from what Nixon did forty years ago.  The only reason for improvement in handling marijuana cases is due to prison over crowding. It has nothing to do with any compassion or common sense.

Bill
Bill

If it doesn't get on the ballot this year, I doubt they find the funding they need in 2014 either. Prop 19 was a disappointment to many. It did fairly well, but would have done a lot better if their was better voter turnout among voters 18 to 29. It was on the ballot during a midterm election though and voter turnout among youth is always low at midterm elections. Wealthy backers didn't get behind these California initiatives this time because the numbers just weren't there. They were looking for support in the high 60s. California is a huge state and these initiatives are very expensive. People don't want to plunk down a lot of cash unless there is a high likelihood of success. They aren't going to put a lot of cash down in 2014 either, even if poll numbers are better than they are now, because a significant portion of young people who would tell telephone pollsters they support legalization won't show up at the polls, while older voters who mostly oppose legalization will.

If it doesn't get on the ballot in 2012, we won't likely see it on the ballot in California until 2016. Support grows a little every year though. More people are coming around and realizing that we do far more harm than good trying in vain to keep up the ban on marijuana, and a whole lot of young people more likely to support legalization reach voting age and more of the older people who grew up before marijuana became popular and who in most cases strongly oppose legalization die off or become too old and infirmed to vote. It's only a matter of time now before it's legalized.

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

It's not like California is the only State in the Union. Both Colorado and Washington have certified ballot initiatives for Election Day 2012.

Aside from that the patient which you're declaring dead still has a pulse and is conscious. Jump the gun much?

Jose Gonzales
Jose Gonzales

They are all being stepped on by the same federal government that is unwilling to budge.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Colorado's idiotic A64 was dead at birth ... doesn't stand a chance, nor should it.

Bill
Bill

The title does say all but dead in California.  It's not an article about other states.  I wonder if some of the money that people thought of spending in California will be spent on initiatives in Colorada and Washington?  You can saturate the media with ads in small states for a fraction of what it costs in California, a huge state with a population about as big as that of Canada, and getting a legalization initiative passed in a small state would do almost as much for the national debate as getting it passed in California would.

Jose
Jose

The President of hope and change is making sure you have neither.  The legalization effort won't even be on the table until 2016 and a lot of us will be dead from old age by then.

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