California Unites Around One Legalization Initiative?

   

Anyone paying attention to the California cannabis legalization effort knows that competing measures have been vying for support and the resources necessary to pass a successful statewide measure. While California has the proper voting demographics to end marijuana prohibition at the ballot box, various factors, including just the sheer size of the state, pose serious difficulties that must be overcome. Uniting around one legalization initiative will greatly enhance the chances of success.

While it is naive to think that there will be complete unity, a press release issued today seems to point to a growing consensus to rally behind the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, supported by billionaire entrepreneur Sean Parker. Reportedly, several board members of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, who have backed the ReformCA measure, have switched their endorsement. Of course, we’ll have more as news develops in California. The press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                      FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:  Tuesday, December 8, 2015                                             Jason Kinney (916) 806-2719

SIX BOARD MEMBERS OF COALITION FOR CANNABIS POLICY REFORM OFFICIALLY ENDORSE THE CONSENSUS “ADULT USE OF MARIJUANA ACT” 

Dr. Larry Bedard, MD, withdraws as official co-proponent of the Reform CA measure & joins growing coalition in support of Adult Use Act   

SACRAMENTO – Today, in the wake of a majority of the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR) agreeing to vote to withdraw its own measure (known as “ReformCA”), six members of the CCPR Board immediately announced their endorsement of the recently-amended statewide ballot measure known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) to control, regulate and tax marijuana.

They include:

  • David Bronner, CEO of North America’s top-selling brand of natural soaps
  • Nate Bradley, Executive Director, California Cannabis Industry Association
  • Stacia Cosner, Deputy Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • Neill Franklin, Executive Director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
  • Antonio Gonzalez, President of the Latino Voters League and the William C. Velasquez Institute in Los Angeles AND
  • Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University in Oakland

In addition, Dr. Larry Bedard, former President of the American College of Emergency Physicians, has agreed to withdraw as an official co-proponent of the ReformCA measure and instead support AUMA.

Over the weekend, a majority of the CCPR Board formally agreed to vote to withdraw the ReformCA measure from the ballot qualification process.

“We have carefully reviewed amendments submitted by the proponents of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and we’re convinced it’s time to endorse that initiative and unite everyone behind a single, consensus measure to achieve a legal, regulated system, which a majority of voters have consistently said they want,” said Bronner.

“This amended measure strikes a thoughtful balance between civil liberties and protecting public safety and the safety and health of our children,” said Franklin.  “I’m pleased to endorse it and have every confidence it will pass in November.”

“As amended, this measure reflects the voices and vision of communities all across California,” said Gonzalez.  “This represents best practices and the best chance California has to replace a failed system of prohibition with an effective, legal and regulated system that protects children, workers and small businesses.”

This follows last week’s announcement by Lee, an award-winning founding father of California’s marijuana reform movement, the founder and former President of Oaksterdam, and the lead proponent of Proposition 19, that he was supporting the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (or AUMA), saying “It’s important that we all get together to support one initiative.”

The Adult Use measure is based on the collaborative input of hundreds of state and local stakeholders and the recommendations of the Lieutenant Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy – and it builds on the landmark regulatory structure for medical marijuana recently passed by a bipartisan majority of the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown (SB 643, AB 266 and AB 243).

It includes strict safeguards to protect children, explicit provisions preventing marijuana monopolies, and unprecedented new investments in teen drug prevention and treatment programs and environmental and water restoration.

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Yesterday’s press release announcing recent amendments to the Adult Use Measure:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                       FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:  Monday, December 7, 2015                                              Jason Kinney (916) 806-2719

PROPONENTS OF LEADING MARIJUANA INITIATIVE AMEND TO STRENGTHEN SAFEGUARDS FOR CHILDREN, WORKERS & SMALL BUSINESS – ALONG WITH STRICT LOCAL CONTROL & ANTI-MONOPOLY PROVISIONS   

Informed by input from hundreds of stakeholders – including local officials, health and policy experts, environmental leaders, small business owners, worker representatives and social justice advocates – amendments bring measure closer in line with recently-passed bipartisan legislation 

SACRAMENTO – Proponents of the leading statewide ballot measure to control, regulate and tax adult use of marijuana announced today that they have filed consensus amendments to significantly strengthen safeguards for children, workers, local governments and small businesses and include even stricter anti-monopoly provisions and the toughest warning label and marketing-to-kids laws in the nation.

Amendments to the measure (known as “the Adult Use of Marijuana Act”) were developed based on input and recommendations received over the last 35 days from hundreds of engaged citizens and organizations representing local government, health and policy experts, environmental leaders, small farmers and business owners, worker representatives and social justice advocates.

The amendments bring the measure even closer in line with the Lieutenant Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy and the new medical marijuana laws recently passed by a bipartisan majority of the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown (SB 643, AB 266 and AB 243).

The amendments specifically strengthen and clarify four central objectives of the AUMA measure:

  1. To protect children and discourage teen drug use;
  2. To maintain local control and local government authority over marijuana commercial activity;
  3. To implement strong worker and labor protections for those employed in this growing industry;
  4. To protect small businesses and ensure state regulators have the authority to prevent monopolies and anti-competitive practices.

“These amendments reflect a collaborative process of public and expert engagement and make an extremely strong measure even stronger,” said Dr. Donald O. Lyman, MD, award-winning physician and former Chief of the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Control at the California Department of Public Health, who is the measure’s lead proponent.  “This measure now includes even more protections for children, workers, small business, and local governments while ensuring strict prohibitions on marketing to kids and monopoly practices.”

New amendments to AUMA include:

Safeguarding California’s Children

  • Mandates the toughest and most explicit warning labels on marijuana products, including an American Medical Association-recommended message that marijuana use during pregnancy or breastfeeding may be harmful.
  • Enhances the strict ban on advertising to minors to clarify that marketing to minors is also strictly prohibited, as is all health-related advertising for non-medical marijuana.
  • Requires a comprehensive study to determine effectiveness of the packaging and labeling requirements and advertising and marketing restrictions on preventing underage access to non-medical marijuana.
  • Provides funding for a public information campaign, emphasizing that marijuana remains illegal for anyone under the age of 21.
  • Accelerates funding for expert outcome research on the effects of the new law, including its impact on minors and whether teen use decreases (as it has in other states with legal, regulated systems such as Colorado).

Maintaining Local Control

  • Aligns with the bipartisan medical marijuana legislation to provide complete local control over non-medical marijuana businesses within their jurisdiction, including the authority to ban commercial marijuana activity by ordinance.
  • Ensures that local governments which allow commercial marijuana businesses to operate have the authority to determine the time, manner and location of those businesses within their jurisdiction.
  • Ensures that local governments have the authority to establish their own taxes on medical and non-medical marijuana consistent with existing state law.  Explicit authority to do so is granted to counties.
  • Requires state licensing authorities to take action to suspend or revoke a state marijuana business license when notified that a corresponding local license has been revoked, ensuring businesses must remain in compliance with local laws to operate.

Protecting Workers in an Expanding Industry

  • Requires state regulators to set specific safety standards for drivers and vehicles that are employed in the legal commercial distribution of marijuana.
  • Clarifies that the labor peace agreements included in the medical marijuana legislation will also extend to this new law.
  • Clarifies that labor violations are grounds for disciplinary action against a marijuana business licensee, including potential suspension or revocation.
  • Clarifies that all administrative costs of the new law must be fully funded, including reasonable costs for state agencies to oversee workplace safety.
  • Mandates the state comprehensively study which workplace safety standards are necessary to fully protect marijuana workers, including against risks unique to the industry. 

Preventing Monopolies and Encouraging Small Business Growth

  • To allow smaller growers to establish themselves in a legal, regulated market, large cultivation licenses (as defined by the medical marijuana legislation) for non-medical marijuana will not be issued for the first five years the new law is in effect.
  • Only after those first five years can large cultivation licenses be issued at the discretion of state regulators but they must include the same restrictions on vertical integration that are contained in the medical marijuana legislation.
  • Strengthens opportunities for minority-owned businesses to enter the legal, regulated marijuana market.
  • Sets a September 1, 2016 deadline for existing medical marijuana businesses to come into compliance with current law and qualify for priority licensing under AUMA, providing greater access for existing small businesses to enter the legal, regulated market.
  • Requires public universities in California to conduct a study and issue recommendations on whether additional protections are needed to prevent unlawful monopolies or anti-competitive behavior.  Additional technical amendments and suggested changes were included to provide increased clarity to state regulators.

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