California Marijuana Legalization Initiative Collects 600,000 Signatures - NBC Bay Area
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California Marijuana Legalization Initiative Collects 600,000 Signatures

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    Backers of a marijuana legalization initiative say they have collected enough signatures for the measure to qualify for the California ballot this November. Chuck Coppola reports. (Published Wednesday, May 4, 2016)

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Backers of a marijuana legalization initiative say they have collected enough signatures for the measure to qualify for the California ballot this November.

    A coalition that includes former Facebook President Sean Parker and backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the nation's leading marijuana advocacy groups says it has collected 600,000 signatures, a lot more than the 365,000 needed, well ahead of the July 5 deadline.

    Newsom, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, and other supporters of the ballot measure known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act plan launched the official campaign Wednesday in San Francisco at the Commonwealth Club.

    "California grows more cannabis than any state," Newsom said. "It could be a $12 billion a year crop."

    Jason Kinney, spokesman for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, said, "The coalition is bigger than ever before. Every public poll over the last two years has shown a majority of Californians no matter where you live, what party, background makeup you believe legalization is better than prohibition.”

    The measure would allow possession of 1 ounce of marijuana and cultivation of six marijuana plants for adults 21 and older.

    The initiative would also place a 15 percent tax on retail sales of the drug.

    There will be people that vote against it though. One of those will be Carla Lowe, founder of Calm. No amount of taxation or regulation can keep young people safe against the drug, she told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday.

    "You have kids dropping out of schools, more crime, more welfare," she said. "There's nothing good about legalization."

    Rep. Dana Rorabacher (R-Costa Mesa) echoed the sentiment.

    "It’s a travesty to use police to enforce this, when there are rapists and murderers [out] there,” he said.

    A coalition of law enforcement, including the California Police Chiefs Association opposes the measure. Their objections include the fact that convicted heroin dealers will be allowed to sell marijuana.