Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Marijuana measure withdrawn, 2 others still aim for ballot

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Now that marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, proponents in California have their hopes up.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a group that appeared to have the most robust financial backing, has withdrawn its bid to get a marijuana legalization measure on California's November ballot. The group, funded by billionaires George Soros and the late Peter Lewis, is waiting until 2016.

Drug Policy Alliance Deputy Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann told KPCC's Take Two that even though polling suggests voters would support such a measure, members of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform want to wait until 2016 so they would have more time to raise money and build public support. His organization has been working to pass drug reform legislation in California and other states.

"We did our best to make it work for this year, but ultimately what we decided over the weekend was we need more time to engage more stakeholders, do more of the kind of legwork they did in Washington State with bringing in law enforcement," Nadelmann said. "So we're going to go for 2016." 

At least two other measures are still aiming for November's ballot. The Americans for Policy Reform's initiative is already in circulation. Director John Lee says the group has a half-million dollars to spend on signature gathering, which registered voters may have already noticed.

"We kicked off our campaign down in Southern California two weeks ago," Lee said.

That group has until April 18th to get more than 504,000 signatures.

Buddy Duzy, spokesman for the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative, says that group will not meet their Feb. 24 deadline to gather signatures for their measure. They are hoping to get approval from the Secretary of State to start over to meet the April deadline.

In a poll released last September, for the first time a majority of all Golden State residents (52%) – not just likely voters – said people should be free to ingest pot recreationally. Among likely voters, 60 percent favor full legalization.

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