Signature gathering approved for marijuana legalization

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In this photo taken Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, a visitor rolls a marijuana joint in coffee shop Mississippi in Maastricht, southern Netherlands.  (AP Photo/Ermindo Armino)

In this photo taken Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, a visitor rolls a marijuana joint in coffee shop Mississippi in Maastricht, southern Netherlands. (AP Photo/Ermindo Armino)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Backers of an initiative that would legalize possession, use, cultivation, transportation and distribution of marijuana and hemp have until Aug. 18 to submit enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
If approved by voters, the measure would also require the Legislature to adopt laws to license and tax commercial commercial marijuana sales.
The initiative also would require case-by-case review of people charged or convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses for possible sentence modification, amnesty or immediate release from prison, jail, parole or probation.
The initiative’s other provisions include:
— allowing doctors to approve or recommend marijuana for patients, regardless of age;
— limit testing for marijuana for employment or insurance purposes; and
— bar state or local aid to enforce federal marijuana laws.
The measure would also exempt medical marijuana collectives from licensing and regulatory requirements and allow local governments to ban or limit the number of marijuana businesses.
The initiative would result in reduced costs potentially exceeding $100 million annually for 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 prepared by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.
The analysis also found that passage of the initiative would generate potential net additional tax revenues of a few hundred million dollars related to the production and sale or marijuana and industrial hemp, a portion of which would be required to be spent on marijuana-related research and other activities.
Valid signatures from 504,760 registered voters — 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 general election — must be submitted by Aug. 18 to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
Backers of the initiative received permission from Secretary of State Debra Bowen Monday to begin gathering signatures.
Signature-gathering is underway for three other initiatives that would legalize marijuana.

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