LOS ANGELES – Backers of two initiatives that would legalize marijuana received permission this week to begin gathering signatures, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced.
One initiative would retroactively legalize marijuana and hemp use, cultivation, possession, transportation, procession, distribution and sale by persons 21 years and over.
It would also allow unlicensed cultivation for use, or sale at cost, of up to six plants per person. Nonmedical marijuana sales would be subject to the sales tax. Additional taxes on nonmedical marijuana processing and sales totaling up to 30 percent of retail prices would also be permitted.
Certain local regulation of marijuana would continue to be allowed, but not regulation inconsistent with the measure’s policies.
The second initiative would also legalize under state law marijuana use, growth, cultivation, possession, transportation, storage, or sale. It would apply general retail sales taxes to marijuana, unless medical or dietary exemptions apply.
The initiative would permit taxes on nonmedical marijuana sales of up to 10 percent of the retail price, prohibit discrimination against marijuana users or businesses and ban the Legislature from enacting marijuana laws.
The initiative would impose personal liability on law enforcement for wrongful marijuana destruction or assisting with certain marijuana investigations.
Passage of the initiative would result in net reduced costs ranging from tens of millions of dollars to potentially exceeding $100 million annually to state and local governments related to enforcing certain marijuana-related offenses, handling the related criminal cases in the court system, and incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders, according to an analysis made by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.
Passage of the initiative would generate net additional state and local tax revenues of potentially a few hundred million dollars annually related to the production and sale of marijuana, a portion of which would be required to be spent for specific purposes such as education, public safety, and drug abuse education and treatment.
Valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters — 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — must be submitted by Dec. 21 to qualify either measure for the November 2016 ballot, according to Padilla.