California Medical Marijuana Measure Dropped in Favor of Legislative Campaign
March 9th, 2012
The coalition of activists who had put together a proposed initiative
to enact statewide regulations on California's chaotic medical
marijuana system are dropping that effort and will instead focus on
getting a nearly identical bill passed in the state legislature.
The initiative, the Medical Marijuana Control, Regulate and Tax Act
(MMCRT) had been aimed at the November ballot, but faced daunting
challenges in getting there. The act needed more than 500,000 valid
voter signatures in the next five weeks to make the ballot, and campaign
organizers said they didn't have enough money to pay for
signature-gatherers to get over the hump.
Dan Rush, the Oakland-based head of the national UFCW's Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, told the Sacramento Bee
Thursday that the initiative effort was over. "We're not doing the initiative. We're pulling the plug on it," he said.
Both Rush and Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access
which had also backed the initiative, said money was the issue. The
campaign had raised $1.2 million, but backers estimated they needed $2
million to make the ballot. While the ballot measure may be dead, the
effort to bring some much needed order to the state's medical marijuana
scene is not.
"We're not dropping anything," Sherer told the SF Weekly
Thursday night, adding that the cash raised would go for a "public
awareness campaign" aimed at lawmakers. While the ballot measure won't
be on the ballot, it "achieved its dream -- to get something in the
legislature," she said.
That "something" is Assembly Bill 2312
introduced by one of marijuana law reform's staunchest allies in the
legislature, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). Like the
initiative, it would impose statewide regulation on the commerce in
medical marijuana, while protecting the rights of patients.
AB 2312 was introduced at the end of last month, and may get a hearing March 27.