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By Dennis Romero LA Weekly
There's been mad talk about finally legalizing recreational marijuana in the great state of California.
Well, this is the one you've all been waiting for: The big daddy of legalization proponents, ReformCA, part of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR), says it will have its ballot initiative ready to file with the state attorney general within weeks.
The group made the announcement during a press conference yesterday afternoon.
Attorney General Kamala Harris will have to approve language for signature gathering, but ReformCA already has hired a firm, Progressive Campaigns Inc., to get voters' endorsements.
It then will have time to gather and turn in signatures. If there are enough verified endorsements, the initiative will be included on the 2016 presidential election ballot in California.
The coalition includes the NAACP, California NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance and the Emerald Growers Association
The idea is to unify the legalization movement and attempt to avoid competing initiatives that could dilute the pro-legalization vote.
There are already potential competitors, including the folks behind the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2016, who have submitted initiative language. However, experts say it takes a few million dollars to collect enough signatures for a serious ballot run.
The process will weed out the pretenders.
"I don't see much prospects" for the competition, said Dale Gieringer of California NORML.
He said internal polling shows that the ReformCA initiative is viable.
"It shows that it's definitely winnable, but it's not a slam-dunk," he told us. "Californians have certain things they want and don't want, and it's important to address those. A badly written initiative could lose."
ReformCA is waiting for Gavin Newsom's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy to release its final report on legalization before submitting its initiative language to the attorney general.
Gieringer also said that organizers might release the language to the public in about three weeks and then seek feedback for about a week before submitting the document to the state.
The coalition's Dale Sky Jones emphasized that the initiative would propose regulating and taxing cannabis for adults.
Jones also said during a press conference yesterday that the initiative would propose a system for recreational weed that would live alongside California's current medical marijuana rules.
ReformCA has spent half a million dollars on its legalization campaigning in the last 2½ years, Jones said, and it plans to have $4 million in donations in its pockets soon.
"This is about building the army towards 2016," she said.