California voters will hit the ballot box Nov. 8, where they will decide, among many other important things, whether they want to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
The odds look good at this point (depending on how one feels about cannabis reform). Recent polls show up to 60 percent of voters support the idea, and the Adult Use of Marijuana Act has drawn little serious opposition.
Known as both the AUMA and Pro. 64, this law would legalize the purchase, possession, and use of small amounts of cannabis by adults over 21. This would include both California residents and visitors. In addition, resident adults could grow a small pot garden at home.
The limit on purchase and possession would be 1 ounce per person, while home cultivation would be limited to six plants per household. Medical cannabis patients would still be allowed to grow and possess larger amounts.
Prop. 64 would also allow the creation of a new retail marijuana industry to grow, process, ship, and sell the drug for recreational use. This system would be built on the shoulders of the state’s existing medical marijuana program, first passed into law by voters in 1996.
Significant endorsement from public figures
In addition to strong public backing, the AUMA has drawn key endorsements from a wide range of groups and public figures, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state’s Democratic Party, the California Medical Association, and the NAACP.
Prop. 64 is spearheaded by tech billionaire and former Facebook executive Sean Parker, who has given several million of his own money to the cause. Parker and his fellow reformers succeeded earlier this summer in getting the initiative on the November ballot, and their group plans to raise millions more in donations before Election Day.
Groups that oppose legalization, meanwhile, are struggling to raise more than token funding. Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Massachusetts has raised at least $2 million to fight reform initiatives nationwide, but only some of that money will pay for advertising in the Golden State.
Third time’s a charm
The AUMA is at least the third time activists in California have tried to legalize marijuana in recent years. A petition made the ballot in 2010 but lost by a wide margin at the polls. Four years later, several groups launched legalization campaigns, but none gained enough traction to make the ballot.
The likelihood of success is much greater this year, for two reasons. First, wealthy donors are pumping far more cash into this effort because it stands a better chance of passing. Second, Parker has been more willing to work with groups that have concerns about the AUMA but don’t necessarily oppose it.
The fact that 2016 includes an unusually high-profile presidential race could also help. Big-ticket contests tend to draw more young voters, a demographic that is generally more supportive of legalization than other age groups.
What’s more, Donald Trump’s toxic candidacy could spur high Democratic voter turnout, which would in turn increase the odds California will legalize cannabis in November. And when it comes to legal weed, as goes California, so eventually goes the nation.
What do you think: Will the AUMA pass on Nov. 8? Is it a good law? Leave a comment.