california marijuana
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

California Marijuana Legalization Efforts Receive Guidance From Blue Ribbon Commission

california marijuanaBy Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director

Yesterday a Blue Ribbon Commission led by California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom released a report providing a total of 58 recommendations for advocates to consider as they move forward to place a legalization initiative on the statewide ballot in November 2016.

California will be joined by a number of other states hoping to legalize marijuana in 2016.

This report seeks to provide regulatory guidance for the state’s forthcoming legalization effort. The commission prefaced its report by stating: “Legalization of marijuana would not be an event that happens in one election. Rather, it would be a process that unfolds over many years requiring sustained attention to implementation.”

The 93-page report addresses policy options on a myriad of subjects, ranging from commercial production to taxation and everything in between. Authors advocate that the four core goals of legalizing cannabis are: promoting the public interest, reducing the size of the illicit market, offering legal protection to responsible actors, and capturing and investing tax revenue. Another predominant theme throughout the report is youth safety. The Commissions states, “A Tax and Regulate policy legalizing marijuana use by adults has the potential to reserve sufficient revenue to provide universal access to programs such as Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) that emphasize learning skills, remediation of academic performance, improved school climate, school retention, peer group interventions, family engagement and more effective drug education, prevention and counseling programs. ”

Notably, the report acknowledges that if California voters were to legalize in 2016, “state officials should engage the federal government, both to ensure compliance with these federal enforcement priorities and to help change other federal rules that may be obstacles to safe legalization at the state level,” signaling that lawmakers intend to bring immense pressure to federal authorities to accommodate state legalization efforts. Specific changes the report wishes to see on the federal level are amendments to banking regulations and IRS rules.

While the report itself avoids explicitly endorsing or opposing marijuana legalization, Lieutenant Governor Newsom has been an outspoken critic of prohibition and is currently the highest office holder in California calling for the plant’s legalization.

Six separate initiatives have been filed in California so far in hopes of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Voters rejected legalization previously in 2010 but a recent poll performed by the Public Policy Institute of California puts support among likely voters at 56%.

Source: NORML - make a donation

  • chris max
  • jontomas

    >>>”Legalization of marijuana would not be an event that happens in one election. Rather, it would be a process that unfolds over many years requiring sustained attention to implementation.”

    That needs some clarification. What would be different from Colorado and Oregon, where all it took was one election?

    • Linus Gray

      “a drawback to leaving the revenue in the general fund is
      that the specific areas needing funding in order to implement and regulate marijuana legalization may not
      receive adequate investment.”
      “Fund necessary programs to protect youth, including
      research-based education…”
      “Funding should be available from the outset for a vigorous public health effort…”
      “Funding should be provided for public safety priorities discussed earlier…”
      “Funding can support
      additional burdens placed on enforcement…”

      Just a few quotes from the report. My speculation as to what these people are after is the excise tax. They want it to fund there pet programs. Prohibition was a cash cow and some people are trying to keep the money flowing. If it can’t be prohibited, it must be heavily managed! I bet the blue ribbon commission will only support an initiative that calls for a highly paid team of consultants to oversee implementation and continued operation. And those highly paid consultant teams are gonna need blue ribbon type people on their payroll. It’s better than prohibition I suppose.

      • jontomas

        So you believe their statement of “Legalization of marijuana would not be an event that happens in one election.” is actually an attempt to hold marijuana consumer’s freedom hostage until they get all the taxes they want?

        Even if this were true, the scheme would have at least two major flaws.

        * No reform group would ever put forth an initiative that required more than one election cycle to implement. Indeed, more than a year would be stretching it. It looks like Oregon will have converted medical dispensaries selling recreational marijuana on October 1 – 11 months after voters approved re-legalization.

        * The report endorses home growing, saying: “After the passage of Proposition 215, Senate Bill 420 established certain rules for the medical marijuana system including a state limit of 6 mature and 12 immature plants, and possession of up to 8 ounces of marijuana, with certain exceptions. A similar model could be established to provide statewide guidelines for cultivation for personal use. Counties could provide additional flexibility or rules, but since cultivation for personal use is not a business or commercial activity, local outright bans of personal cultivation may not be appropriate,”

        So, home growing is in. That will keep the whole system honest and prices and taxes down to earth. If prices plus taxes exceed $100 an ounce, large numbers of consumers will just grow their own. That will reduce demand, which will, in turn, bring prices back down to reality. My best estimate is $50 an ounce or less, plus $15 to $25 in taxes.

        I don’t see any scenario where the initiative passes in November, 2016 and marijuana is not legal before 2018.

        This pronouncement just doesn’t make sense – unless they are describing a process where marijuana becomes legal to purchase, consume and home-grow in 2017, but it takes a few years to iron out the bugs and see regulations in their final form.

        • Linus Gray

          Not so much hold the consumer hostage, but to fear monger their way into the flow of funds and hitch a ride on cannabis reform.

          Now this might not apply to every member person involved in the report, but let’s look at 2 out of 3 names which appear on the cover page of the report.

          First, Keith Humphreys, former ONDCP senior policy advisor. He has long been against legalization (https://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=28594), but now he’s on a panel advising how to legalize? That seems ood. If California legalizes through an initiative similar to prop 19, it will reduce the demand for people like him, former drug policy advisors, whose job it was to promote anti-drug hysteria and keep anti-drug funding flowing (law enforcement, forced treatment, anti-drug research). So as the funds for anti-drug work dry up, people look for other ways to get their funding. If you can’t beat them, join them. Now he wants to advise the other side.

          And Gavin Newsom, former proponent of legalization is now saying we need to be cautious? To quote him: “I was much more persuadable two years ago than I am today, and there’s no way I will associate myself as a parent first, and as a public servant second, with something that is loosely drafted, that is looking to capitalize on the next California Gold Rush,” he said. “If that’s what proponents are after, then I am going to work hard to defeat that.” http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article28073746.html

          So how is it that these former anti-legalization and pro-legalization figures come together at this point? I think everyone knows it is inevitable for legalization to happen and these guys are aware of what BOTEC got in Washington – about 800K in consulting fees with the desire for much more (http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/948679-129/kleiman-state-pot-says-botec-lcb. There is money to be made in legalization and regulation of cannabis if the process is drawn out. .

          That’s what I believe they mean when they say more than one election cycle. Best case scenario for them is if it passes by legislation (big fees to be charged by consultants for study after study). That way the legislature can continuously tinker with it. Every change in excise tax, or edible strength will require consultants to study the effect. If that can’t happen they want an initiative which calls for studies like what BOTEC did, and hopefully allow the legislature to tweak it continuously (again consultants needed). Worst case scenario for them is an initiative that is simple and protects marijuana consumers from government meddling. “Draw it out… get paid” could be their motto.

          • jontomas

            Of course bureaucracies always attempt to expand themselves. But this is going too far.

            No re-legalization initiative is going to pass if the official, first legal day is beyond 2017. With four legal states, we now have a track record. The people know how it works and will not accept delays.

            ReformCA will put out their proposal soon. We’ll see….

        • Linus Gray

          And I should add if it passes by legislation there is a better chance that the excise tax will fund a lot of unnecessary programs, as I mentioned in my first post. They seem to prefer that it does not go into the general fund. (note: my other post is waiting for approval so my reply may appear out of order).

  • BainDramage

    >>>Notably, the report acknowledges that if California voters were to legalize in 2016, “state officials should engage the federal government, both to ensure compliance with these federal enforcement priorities and to help change other federal rules that may be obstacles to safe legalization at the state level,” signaling that lawmakers intend to bring immense pressure to federal authorities to accommodate state legalization efforts. Specific changes the report wishes to see on the federal level are amendments to banking regulations and IRS rules.<<<

    Cannabis also needs to be removed from Schedule 1 at the Federal Level. As long as it remains "illegal" to possess and consume under federal laws, employers will have the option to fire employees who test positive – even those who use only rarely.

    As more and more states legalize the possession and consumption of cannabis, the federal scheduling needs to be removed. Treat it like alcohol and tax it like beer or wine if you must (and, of course, they must – for our own good), but get it off the federal drug schedule.

  • Corinna Reyes

    State and City government should have already engaged the federal government, both to ensure compliance with the Americans with disabilities act.

  • ReformCA Sucks

    Things are looking grim in California. It looks like the greedy “reformers”, and all the unions and lobbyists behind them, are just looking for a select few to profit. Say hello to Washington State style quasi-“legalization” in California.

    • ReformCA Sucks

      Or are we looking at something closer to “Responsible Ohio”? Where only the rich or select few will profit…

      • jontomas

        No. This is nothing like Responsible Ohio. This is just the mass of regulations that go along with anything California does. If you live here, you know that.

        Even Responsible Ohio is not bad. RO backers are putting up 40 million dollars to get a legalization initiative passed. This is a bargain for Ohio marijuana consumers who get their freedom in return for giving those investors a brief advantage in the cultivation segment of the industry.

    • jontomas

      Reformers aren’t greedy. Their primary goal is to end the fraudulent, vicious government persecution of millions of good citizens who consume marijuana. Where is the greed in that?

      There are money changers in the temple, mostly greedy growers and tax-hungry agencies. – They are not reformers. They are vested interests preparing to feast from the fruits of reformers’ work.

      Don’t confuse these groups.

  • Terry

    Or we could just take off our denial/embarrassed hat and legalize it like a smart, comprehensive, undiscriminatory society would.