Nevada City attorney submits proposal for statewide marijuana legalization initiative | TheUnion.com

Nevada City attorney submits proposal for statewide marijuana legalization initiative

A Nevada City attorney this week submitted a proposed statewide initiative to legalize the use and cultivation of marijuana for non-medical or recreational adult use.

Attorney Heather Burke said she and attorney Omar Figueroa of Sebastopol submitted the "California Craft Cannabis Initiative" proposal on Wednesday to the state Attorney General's office in Sacramento.

Burke explained that the Craft Cannabis Initiative is not competing with the larger unified public effort being planned for the November 2016 ballot.

Instead, its purpose is to get a rough draft out in the public domain to display some sample language, and to provide a "historical record" and a template, she said.

"There is a void right now," Burke said Friday. "There's a lot of excitement swirling around and people want to see some language."

She said she and Figueroa will decide next week how they will handle petitions and gathering signatures. The statewide initiative will require between 300,000 and 350,000 signatures to be certified for the November 2016 ballot, but since Burke and Figueroa plan to throw their support later to the larger effort, it was not immediately clear how they would address signature-gathering.

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"We do support a unified effort in 2016 and not a haberdash of vying initiatives but, for now, we want the public to have tangible language to begin thinking about the issues more critically," Burke said.

In particular, Burke's initiative would offer "a lot of support and protections for the craft growers," including some "mom and pop" operations such as those in Nevada County.

"Their voice needed to be heard in this election," said Burke, who is on the board of the local chapter of Emerald Growers Association, but who is not the attorney for the group. "We're offering our language to anyone who wants to use it."

Craft growers are defined as those cultivating or using 99 plants or less.

If approved by voters, the California Craft Cannabis Initiative would:

— Legalize six plants or less per person for non-medical adult cultivation and use.

— Legalize 99 plants or less for "craft" operation and use.

— Legalize 100-plus plants or more for commercial cultivation and use.

— Set up a "cannabis trademark" that craft or commercial growers could use on their products or services.

— Set up a licensing program for cannabis-related businesses.

— Set up a "California Cannabis Commission" that would handle the licenses.

— Allow for a licensee's "cannabis privilege," meaning that the license information would be held privately by the grower. Like attorney-client privilege, the cannabis privilege would prohibit disclosure of licensee information by the cannabis commission or other public agency.

— Establish a "cannabis genome bank" to hold DNA from mature plants.

— Allow for a more streamlined process for forms and fees.

— Allow craft growers direct access to the marketplace.

Burke said the unified statewide initiative effort was being organized through three groups: The Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, a collection of California groups; the national Drug Policy Alliance; and the national Marijuana Policy Project.

She said she had no immediate word as to when the final language on that effort would be released.

For more information, see http://www.californiacannabis2016.com.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.