Recreational Pot Measure Qualifies for Ballot

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SACRAMENTO -- As expected, a ballot initiative legalizing the adult recreational use of marijuana got more than enough signatures to place it on the November ballot.

It sets up a debate that voters considered in 2010 when a pot legalization measure was defeated by a 7 percent margin, with 53 percent of voters siding against legalization.

Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, remembers his time as a volunteer trying to drum up support for 2010's Proposition 19.

"Six years ago we were a grass-roots effort fighting an uphill battle," said Bradley.

This time around, it has support from a growing number of organizations in a marijuana industry fostered by the acceptance of medical cannabis. In addition, it has support from Silicon Valley philanthropist Sean Parker, who helped fund the signature drive, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Democratic Party and the NAACP.

Political consultant Tim Rosales helped defeat Proposition 19 by pointing out the unworkable details of a measure that was crafted without legislative input. He says this initiative also has loopholes including some that allow convicted drug felons to legally sell pot.

"Even if you support conceptually legalization of marijuana, you can look at this initiative and say 'not this way'," said Rosales.

He says the tax revenue generated by regulating the sale of marijuana would be eaten up by the cost of enforcing the scheme and policing black market sales.

""It's really going to be revenue neutral. We're actually going to lose money on it," said Rosales.

But Bradley feels the arguments against the measure are emotional rather than factual. He said this time they can follow the lead of several states that have already legalized recreational marijuana.

"The sky doesn't fall, and we're able to put more cops on the road because of the tax money we get back," said Bradley, a former law enforcement officer.

While opponents feel the initiative was written as a business plan for corporations to make huge profits, proponents say the support mostly comes from groups that are pushing for social justice, not profits.

Proponents have already raised nearly $4 million, while law enforcement, drug policy groups and hospitals fighting the initiative say they will use facts and not money to fight the ballot measure.

A number has yet to be assigned to the initiative. That will come on Friday ,and you can expect the campaigning to ramp up after that.

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