Two potential state ballot initiatives are in the works allowing for either commercial production of marijuana or decriminalizing its use.
A 2012 ballot initiative to tax and regulate marijuana similar to wine has already been submitted but will be returned to the Attorney General’s Office to alter its ballot description, supporters said.
The initiative would give the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control authority to regulate the growing of marijuana for commercial use. Those who grow pot for their own use would not be taxed.
Once it’s approved for signature- gathering, the proponents would need 504,760 signatures by Dec. 19 to put the initiative on the June or November 2012 ballot.
Jim Gray, an author of the bill and retired Orange County Superior Court judge, said the initiative would be resubmitted to the attorney general “to re-tinker with the language.”
“We almost can’t live with the language on the summary,” Gray said. “We are not proposing to legalize marijuana or anything else.”
Gray said alcohol and cigarettes are “strictly regulated and controlled” and not legalized, so the summary’s tentative language is misleading to the voters and must be changed to reflect the language for alcohol and cigarettes.
In the new submission, Gray said there would probably be a reduced number of plants that can be used without being regulated, but that would be it.
As far as having two initiatives, Gray said he was keeping the lines of communication open.
“I fully expect we will gather our thoughts together and have one initiative, but, if there’s two, we can live with that, too,” Gray said.
Not as far along in the initiative process is the measure of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, which proposed last year’s failed Proposition 19 effort, said Dale Jones, coalition chairwoman.
Proposition 19, for those ages 21 and older, would have decriminalized cultivation and possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use and barred its use in the presence of minors and in public.
Residents would have been allowed to possess or transport up to 1 ounce and grow marijuana in a 5-foot-by-5-foot space on their property.
“What I would say is CCPR, after doing quite a bit of polling and research, has written a very rough, very preliminary draft based on evidence we’ve been able to gather from what happened with Proposition 19 and the tremendous amount of feedback we’ve asked for from our supporters and our opposition,” Jones said.
She said her coalition would have preliminary language for people to review in a couple months for a final review but declined to give specifics.
She added her group is supportive of possibly working with the “familiar and friendly” Gray who worked with the Proposition 19 backers.
Claremont McKenna College political science professor Jack Pitney said there could be helpful and hurtful effects of having more than one ballot initiative.
We will see——Paul Schrader