ReformCA Joins Crowded Field for California Marijuana Legalization

   

The Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform in California has announced the hiring of political consultants Joe Trippi and Jim Gonzalez, as well as the company Progressive Campaigns Inc. to handle the gathering of petition signatures for what will be the ninth initiative filed regarding marijuana laws in California.

Trippi is currently a FOX News commentator who was an adviser for the campaigns of California Gov. Jerry Brown and former presidential candidates Howard Dean and John Edwards. Gonzalez served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and was instrumental in helping to pass Proposition 215 in 1996, the groundbreaking medical marijuana initiative.

Coalition chairwoman Dale Sky Jones says the campaign has raised almost a half-million dollars from their near 70,000 supporters and plans to raise four million dollars from their supporters, as well as larger donations from drug reform, institutional, and industry supporters to match the ten-to-fourteen million dollars the campaign is estimated to cost.

ReformCA is expected to be the largest, best-funded organization putting forth a plan for California marijuana legalization. Eight other initiatives have already been filed, but it is expected that some of those will fold if their concerns are absorbed within ReformCA’s still-unreleased initiative language, and others will lack the financial support necessary for a robust statewide campaign.

In addition to Jones, who is the chancellor of Oaksterdam University and the prior campaign head for the failed Prop 19 legalization initiative from 2010, ReformCA also has strong institutional support. California NORML and California US Representative Dana Rohrabacher already have endorsed the ReformCA campaign, and it is working closely with Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and Americans for Safe Access — in other words, every major marijuana reform organization.

ReformCA’s proposal is likely to be far more conservative than some of the other initiatives already filed.

  • The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2016 (MCLR) seems to place no limit on how much cannabis one can possess and cultivate, leaving that to be determined by a Cannabis Control Commission set up by the initiative.
  • The California Artisan Cannabis Initiative of 2016 (CACI) places no limit on how much useable cannabis a person could possess, but does limit a personal garden to six cannabis plants. This initiative takes great care in providing for “craft cannabis” growers who are producing fewer than 100 plants.
  • The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative of 2016 (CCHI) would allow adults to cultivate 99 mature plants and possess 12 pounds of useable marijuana.
  • The California Bipartisan Decriminalization of Cannabis Act of 2016 (CBDCA) proposes that adults 21 and older be allowed five pounds of marijuana, a pound of concentrate, and a 500 square foot personal garden. All medical dispensaries would become recreational shops with a 15 percent excise tax and localities could not ban them.
  • The Responsible Use Act of 2016 (RUA) would allow 1.5 pounds and 12 mature plants. Like CBDCA, RUA would make all medical dispensaries become recreational shops and forbid local bans, but the tax would be $8 per ounce plus up to a 2 percent local tax.
  • The Community Restoration Act of 2016 to Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis (CRA) has been filed by Alice Huffman of the California NAACP. It may be more conservative than what ReformCA will propose, offering just one ounce of possession in public and a 25 square foot garden, from which adults may possess all their harvest at home.

Plus there are two initiatives dealing solely with amending California’s medical marijuana laws:

  • The Compassionate and Sensible Access Act of 2016 (CSA) amends California medical marijuana law to end the practice of local bans on medical cultivation and dispensary access.
  • The Right to Medical Marijuana Act of 2016 (RMMA) adds a simple statement to the California Constitution that “any resident, having obtained the age of 18 years has the right to grow, own, purchase, and obtain a permit from the State to sell organic marijuana for medical use, without a licensed physician’s recommendation or prescription.”

Russ Belville

"Radical" Russ Belville is a blogger, podcaster, and host of The Russ Belville Show, a daily two-hour talk radio show focused on the evolution of the legal marijuana industry in the United States. The program is airing live at 3pm Pacific Time from Portland, Oregon, on CannabisRadio.com, with podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. Russ began his marijuana activism in 2005 with Oregon NORML, then in 2009 went on to work for National NORML, and found and direct Portland NORML.in 2015.