Local campaign to legalize recreational marijuana begins | TheUnion.com

Local campaign to legalize recreational marijuana begins

The public is invited to a community stakeholders meeting, 12:30-2:30 p.m. March 10, sponsored by the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR) and Americans for Safe Access (ASA) to discuss the provisions of a 2016 state ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

An informal networking session will follow the presentation. The meeting will be held at the Nevada County Horsemen’s Association, 10600 Bubbling Wells Road, Grass Valley.

CCPR has appointed local patient advocate, Patricia Smith, as the county chair for the 2016 initiative effort to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. Smith accepted the position to ensure that medical patients rights are not overlooked in the recreational market.

The coalition is made up of the top leaders in the reform movement which includes law enforcement officers, former governors, state legislators, judges, lawyers, doctors, business professionals, educators, and patient advocates. If passed in 2016, California would become the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana.

Dale Sky-Jones, executive director of Oaksterdam University, has taken the lead in CCPR. She is bringing an experienced team of experts to Nevada County for a stakeholders workshop to get feedback from cultivators, patients, and members of the community to hear their concerns about the contents of the initiative before the final language is drafted. Smith scheduled the meeting to coincide with the first ASA meeting of the year. ASA has been on hiatus since December.

Some of the stickiest issues that still need to be worked out are square foot growing restrictions versus plant counts, tax exemptions for personal patient use, growing and testing standards, and whether the initiative should be statewide or deferred to each county. CCPR needs to hear from community members to decide which provisions they will endorse.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) have offered their support and experience to help the initiative qualify, and have pledged a matching donation for every dollar raised by state advocates. It is estimated that the campaign could cost as much as $10 million based on cost projections from the successful efforts in Colorado and Washington.

A team will be organized soon after the stakeholder’s meeting in an effort to start raising donations for the signature gathering process. Because of an unusually low voter turnout in November, qualifying a measure will require the fewest signatures in 35 years. Official numbers released by the Secretary of State show that 375,000 signatures will be needed to qualify an initiative in 2016 or 2018. In the previous election cycle, 504,760 signatures were required. A state constitutional amendment will require 600,000 signatures which is down from the previous threshold of 807,615 signatures.

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