FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 28, 2010
Petitions Signed by Voters in Every California County
Every County in California - Supporters of the California initiative to tax, regulate, and control cannabis fanned out across the state to turn in petitions signed by approximately 700,000 voters, far exceeding the 433,971 required to qualify the Initiative for November's statewide ballot. Reflecting the broad and diverse support for the initiative, signatures from voters in every one of California's 58 counties are being submitted to county election officials.
Retired Superior Court Judge James P. Gray submitted petitions in Southern California. "As a retired Orange County judge, I've been on the front lines of the drug war for three decades, and I know from experience that the current approach is simply not working," said retired Judge Gray. "Controlling marijuana with regulations similar to those currently in place for alcohol will put street drug dealers and organized crime out of business, while allowing police to focus on protecting the public by preventing violent crime."
"This is a historic day," said Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University and leading proponent of the Initiative. "The people of California now have the opportunity to support a common-sense solution for a broken budget and dysfunctional drug laws."
"This Initiative is moral, sensible, and the right thing to do," said Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative. "Regulating cannabis is a common-sense solution that puts our priorities in order and reflects our values."
Similar to the current regulation of alcohol and tobacco, the Initiative will give local governments the ability to tax and regulate the sale of small amounts of marijuana to adults age 21 and older. The Initiative includes significant safeguards and controls: it will increase the penalty for providing marijuana to a minor, expressly prohibit the consumption of marijuana in public, forbid smoking marijuana while minors are present, and ban possession on school grounds.
Studies by the Board of Equalization and the Legislative Analyst Office show that the Initiative will generate billions of dollars in revenue to fund schools and public safety. Several recent polls have shown the Initiative has the support of a majority of California voters.
California's tax regulator, the Board of Equalization, which currently collects alcohol and tobacco taxes, estimates that marijuana taxes could generate $1.4 billion in revenue each year, available to fund schools, law enforcement, and other critical needs.
The California Legislative Analyst's Office, which provides nonpartisan fiscal and policy advice, states that in addition to generating new tax revenue, the Initiative would allow correctional and law enforcement resources to be redirected to more pressing needs. The LAO says the in addition to generating "a few hundred millions of dollars annually" it could also save "several tens of millions of dollars annually" and permit the "redirection of court and law enforcement resources."
Multiple polls show that a majority of California voters support taxing and regulating cannabis. California's widely-respected Field Poll revealed that 56% of voters support the Initiative.
Private research conducted by the campaign has confirmed the Field Poll's data showing majority support for the Initiative. Additionally, the campaign's research revealed that 80% of voters believe California's current laws criminalizing cannabis have failed, 69% of voters were more likely to support the Initiative when they learned that it "will not allow cannabis to be sold to minors or near schools," and 68% are more likely to support it when they hear that it will "take business away from street dealers, breaking their hold on our neighborhoods."