Friday, July 17, 2015

Cannabis Legalization Campaigns Gearing Up

By John Geluardi
Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 5:00 PM

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California cannabis activists announced on Thursday that they will soon file a state ballot initiative to legalize cannabis in 2016. Perhaps more importantly, they said they are organized, motivated and well-funded. Organizers of ReformCA said they have hired hard-hitting Democratic political strategists and lined up a leading signature gathering firm.

According to Dale Sky Jones, a longtime activist and ReformCA organizer, the campaign has already received roughly $500,000 and she expects to raise at least another $4 million. Jones, who is also the executive chancellor at Oaksterdam University, said ReformCA has a network of 70,000 supporters.

Santa Rosa based attorney Joe Rogoway, who is helping craft the ReformCA initiative, said the proposed new law would lay the groundwork for a robust set of regulations for adult cannabis use while maintaining medical cannabis regulations already in place. “We’re going to have strict licensing criteria and we’re going to be able to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the state based on the model we want to put in place,” said Rogoway.

If filed, the ReformCA initiative will be vying with seven other marijuana legalization initiatives that have already been filed with the attorney general. But ReformCA is expected to be the most thoroughly written and well-funded proposition. Many expect the other initiatives to either drop out, be denied by the attorney general, or to be combined in order to assure better chances at the polls. But with the confusing likelihood of multiple marijuana propositions on the ballot, it’s possible voters could reject all of them.

A previous legalization initiative largely finance by Richard Lee, the founder and director of Oaksterdam University, failed in 2010. That ballot effort was plagued by a lack of unified support among cannabis activists, and many thought it was a mistake to put it on the ballot during a non-presidential election when younger voters tend to stay away from the polls.

ReformCA has hired political consultant and Fox News commentator Joe Trippi, who has worked in the past for Governor Jerry Brown and former presidential candidates Howard Dean and John Edwards. In addition, the campaign has hired Progressive Campaigns Inc. to gather signatures beginning in the fall.

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