California: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Cleared For Signature Gathering

(Photo of Michael Jolson and Berton Duzy: 420Magazine)

A new voter initiative which would legalize marijuana in California was cleared on Thursday for signature gathering by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Supporters of the measure, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2014, now have 150 days — until February 24 — to gather 504,760 signatures in order to qualify for the November 2014 ballot, Bowen said, reports KTVU.

The CCHI would legalize the possession, use, cultivation and sale of marijuana and hemp. It would instruct the California Legislature to pass laws licensing and taxing commercial sales of cannabis, and to set standards for driving impairment.

Behind the initiative are Berton Duzy, 58, a Simi Valley contractor, and Michael Jolson, 45, a medical marijuana activist based in Santa Cruz.

Duzy said the effort has been led by a core group of 10 to 15 volunteers, backed by a statewide network of about 500 volunteers.

Duzy and Jolson said they hope to use as many as 3,000 volunteers and, if they can get donor funding, professional gatherers to collect the needed voter signatures. They claimed their efforts to legalize marijuana in California go back to the 1990s, predating the Colorado and Washington votes.

Jolson said recent events show “a momentum going across America” and he hopes that will propel the CCHI to victory.

California lost its chance to become the first state in the nation to legalize cannabis when Proposition 19, another marijuana legalization initiative, was rejected by 53.5 percent of state voters in 2010. Several similar measures were proposed in 2012, including one sponsored by Duzy and Jolson, but none qualified for the ballot.

The two men said they are optimistic this time. “I’m optimistic because of the enthusiasm we’re getting from people who want this legalized,” Duzy said.

“We honestly feel this plant can help transform and sustain humankind,” said Jolson, who said he wants to see industrial hemp used as a biomass fuel, as well as cannabis available for personal and medical use.

Duzy said that while many pro-marijuana organizations decided to wait until the 2016 election — a Presidential election year — his group decided to go ahead and aim for 2014. “Put it to the people and let the people decide,” he said.

California: Marijuana Legalization Initiative Cleared For Signature Gathering

Article by Steve Elliott for Hemp News