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Marijuana Legalization Will Be on California Ballot in 2010

The Tax & Regulate Cannabis 2010 campaign has succeeded in gathering enough signatures to send marijuana legalization to the California ballot in 2010. In just two months, the organization was able to easily gain more than the required 434,000 signatures required—a lot more, actually (nearly 700,000). This is a huge victory for activists working for a saner approach to U.S. marijuana policy. It may be the first step toward widespread adoption of marijuana law reform.
The Tax & Regulate Cannabis 2010 campaign has just achieved a major victory in its efforts to legalize marijuana for all adults in California — they have gathered the signatures necessary for inclusion on the state’s November ballot. “This is the next step to sane cannabis policies and the end to the hypocrisy and unjust prohibition of cannabis,” pot entrepreneur Richard Lee told me Monday morning. He is the co-proponent and a major sponsor of the Tax Cannabis initiative and the force — and money — behind Oaksterdam, the successful marijuana-friendly section of Oakland. This win means that Californians will be the first in the nation to decide whether they believe marijuana ought be taxed and regulated for all adults over 21, much the same way alcohol is. The drug reform movement’s eyes will be on California next year, because many advocates believe that if the initiative passes, many other states could follow. Support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high, with polls ranging from 44 to 52 percent national support. In California, where marijuana has been legalized for medical use since 1996, 56 percent support legalization. This may be why the campaign’s organizers were able to gather so many signatures — nearly 700,000 — so quickly. Lee tells me the signature-gathering effort was launched only two months before they had achieved that massive number, although legally they were allotted five months to come up with the signatures. Lee collected a couple hundred himself. Dale Sky Clare, the executive chancellor of Oaksterdam University, says there were at least 3,000 petitioners collecting signatures — and they didn’t have to work too hard to sell the cause. “Usually, before someone signs a ballot petition, they want to read it, see what it’s about, ask questions. But in our case, people didn’t even have to finish hearing the sentence — ‘legalize marijuana’ was enough,” Clare laughs. By the last week of November, Tax Cannabis had handily exceeded the 433,971 required signatures it needed for ballot qualification and ended the petitioning stage of its campaign. Clare and Lee share a celebratory and hopefully soothing joint as they field a barrage of calls from the mainstream media. They’ll officially submit the signatures sometime in February, I hear Lee tell one reporter, so that they qualify for the November ballot instead of the one in June, which is expected to have a less favorable voter turnout.
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