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Legalization referendum on marijuana looms for Nov. 2016

A recreational marijuana referendum in California is in the works for presentation to the voters in Nov. 2016. Currently, a blue-ribbon panel chaired by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has published its 93-page report that sets forth various general considerations and issues identified for further resolution. The report is presented as a group of options on marijuana legalization rather than a detailed floor plan.

According to Newsom, who supports legalization, it was felt that any law that is voted on could be fine-tuned as the issues come better into focus and the facts are more fully fleshed out. One general conclusion of the 24-member panel was that the new legalization policy should not dwell on how to turn the industry into a major tax base for the state. One of the major issues will be how to set up licensing for growers and sellers of the product.

The panel wants to incorporate existing small suppliers into the licensing process. Creating  jobs is also a goal to look toward. Additionally, the industry should not get so unwieldy and big that it will start exporting marijuana to other states. Protecting children from accessing the drug is also a concern of the panel.

Notably, California already has a well-developed medical marijuana industry that has been running for several years. Most importantly, according to Newsom, is that the panel is not recommending the creation of a massive economic industry, a maximized tax revenue system, or a system that would make marijuana excessively inexpensive. The reason is that the panel believes that supporting such policies would stimulate heavy use of the drug. The panel wants to find a middle road where illegal traffickers are eliminated  due to a low enough price but where the drug remains expensive enough to discourage access by children.

Source:, "How would legalized recreational marijuana in California work?", July 23, 2015

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