Marijuana Initiatives in California Flaming Out
In 2010, when we came oh so close to passing a California marijuana initiative that would have legalized it, medical or not, cannabis supporters were elated, confident and maybe even cocky.
Prop. 19 was essentially a one-man band, the brainchild of an Oakland dispensary magnate. Just wait until 2012 when the forces of decriminalization finally get on the same page.
Today, only weeks away from a deadline to turn in more than 700,000 signatures of support from registered voters, several legalization and regulation initiatives appear to be in competition for limited money and, as the Los Angeles Times put it over the weekend, "in disarray."
Late last week it was reported that Americans for Safe Access and its partner, the Bay Area's food and commercial workers' union (UFCW), pulled the plug on the highest-profile marijuana initiative aimed at the November ballot.
The groups' Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act would have created a statewide body to police, tax and generally keep an eye on dispensaries.
It was seen as a workaround for cities like L.A. that were tiring of dispensaries that were running outside the law. With this, the state would deal with it.
Except that a federal crackdown on pot shops and a state court case that some cities like Los Angeles are interpreting as a death sentence for dispensaries have made the ASA's initiative a hard sell.
What's more, as the Times notes, fundraising among as many as five marijuana initiatives has been difficult even as the dispensary business has been largely profitable:
... Dispensary operators know that broader legalization could lower prices and bring more competitors into their business.
For now supporters seem to be hopefull that a state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano will carry the torch with a bill that might extend the lives of pot shops in the state by mirroring the ASA's would-be initiative.