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CCPR Board Members Endorse Rival California Legalization Measure

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Last month Marijuana.com broke the news that a key board member of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR), a group that has been working for years to build a consensus marijuana legalization for California’s 2016 ballot, had decided to endorse a separate group’s initiative.

“It’s important that we all get together to support one initiative,” the board member, Richard Lee, said in an interview at the time.

On Tuesday that rival group, backed by billionaire tech investor Sean Parker, announced in a press release that a majority of CCPR’s 14 board members have formally agreed to withdraw the measure they’d been working on under the banner of Reform California, as Lee predicted would happen last month.

Despite holding a series of forums across the state to build support for their measure, CCPR has struggled to raise the money it would take to collect enough signatures to qualify it for the ballot and mount a campaign to pass it.

Six of CCPR’s board members have agreed to endorse the better-funded measure, known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), according to the group’s press release.

Besides Lee, who is the founder of Oaksterdam University and was the chief funder of Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization initiative that Golden State voters narrowly defeated in 2010, the board members backing AUMA are:

· David Bronner, CEO of hemp soap company Dr. Bronner’s

· Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association

· Stacia Cosner, deputy director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy

· Neill Franklin, executive director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

· Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Latino Voters League and the William C. Velasquez Institute in Los Angeles

CCPR board members Don Duncan of Americans for Safe Access and Dale Gieringer of California NORML also pledged to vote to withdraw CCPR’s initiative but did not immediately endorse AUMA, a source who was part of the discussions told Marijuana.com.

Additionally, Dr. Larry Bedard, former President of the American College of Emergency Physicians, has agreed to withdraw as an official co-proponent of the Reform California measure and instead throw his support behind AUMA, according to the release.

A CCPR board member, who did not want to be named, told Marijuana.com on Tuesday that the organization has a board meeting scheduled for December 18 at which it is expected the vote to formally withdraw the Reform California initiative will take place.

The board member also said that the effort to convince a majority CCPR’s board to agree to withdraw its initiative was primarily orchestrated by Bronner and Graham Boyd, an advisor to the estate of late Progressive auto insurance chairman Peter B. Lewis. “They worked as a team on this one,” the board member said.

On Monday, the AUMA campaign filed a number of amendments to its initial draft, some of which were negotiated with CCPR board members to win their support. The changes include raising the legal possession limit for cannabis concentrates from 4 grams to 8 grams, protecting child custody for medical marijuana patients, exempting patients’ use of vaporizers from smoking bans and allowing consumption of and open containers of marijuana on boats and vessels where licensed for use in a passenger compartment.

Boyd apparently had a series of conversations with CCPR board members in recent days in which they agreed in principle to support withdrawing their own initiative if the changes were made to AUMA. Then, in an email on Saturday, he detailed the amendments and asked CCPR board members to reply with “I agree” if they wanted to move ahead with the plan.

A majority of the CCPR board did so, prompting AUMA’s Tuesday press release.

“We have carefully reviewed amendments submitted by the proponents of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and we’re convinced it’s time to endorse that initiative and unite everyone behind a single, consensus measure to achieve a legal, regulated system, which a majority of voters have consistently said they want,” Bronner said in the press release.

Franklin added, “This amended measure strikes a thoughtful balance between civil liberties and protecting public safety and the safety and health of our children. “I’m pleased to endorse it and have every confidence it will pass in November.”

The AUMA measure is also supported by California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, as well major reform organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project.

Proponents will need to collect at least 365,880 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify it for the November 2016 ballot.

Read More: marijuana.com

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California Unites Around One Legalization Initiative?

By Marijuana Politics Staff  December 8, 2015 at 10:19 am

Anyone paying attention to the California cannabis legalization effort knows that competing measures have been vying for support and there sources necessary to pass a successful statewide measure. While California has the proper voting demographics to end marijuana prohibition at the ballot box, various factors, including just the sheer size of the state, pose serious difficulties that must be overcome. Uniting around one legalization initiative will greatly enhance the chances of success.

While it is naive to think that there will be complete unity, a press release issued today seems to point to a growing consensus to rally behind the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, supported by billionaire entrepreneur Sean Parker. Reportedly, several board members of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, who have backed the ReformCA measure, have switched their endorsement. Of course, we’ll have more as news develops in California. The press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:  Tuesday, December 8, 2015 

Jason Kinney (916) 806-2719

SIX BOARD MEMBERS OF COALITION FOR CANNABIS POLICY REFORM OFFICIALLY ENDORSE THE CONSENSUS “ADULT USE OF MARIJUANA ACT” 

Dr. Larry Bedard, MD, withdraws as official co-proponent of the Reform CA measure & joins growing coalition in support of Adult Use Act   

SACRAMENTO – Today, in the wake of a majority of the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR) agreeing to vote to withdraw its own measure (known as “ReformCA”), six members of the CCPR Board immediately announced their endorsement of the recently-amended statewide ballot measure known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) to control, regulate and tax marijuana.

They include:

  • David Bronner, CEO of North America’s top-selling brand of natural soaps
  • Nate Bradley, Executive Director, California Cannabis Industry Association
  • Stacia Cosner, Deputy Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • Neill Franklin, Executive Director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
  • Antonio Gonzalez, President of the Latino Voters League and the William C. Velasquez Institute in Los Angeles AND
  • Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University in Oakland

In addition, Dr. Larry Bedard, former President of the American College of Emergency Physicians, has agreed to withdraw as an official co-proponent of the ReformCA measure and instead support AUMA.

Over the weekend, a majority of the CCPR Board formally agreed to vote to withdraw the ReformCA measure from the ballot qualification process.

“We have carefully reviewed amendments submitted by the proponents of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and we’re convinced it’s time to endorse that initiative and unite everyone behind a single, consensus measure to achieve a legal, regulated system, which a majority of voters have consistently said they want,” said Bronner.

“This amended measure strikes a thoughtful balance between civil liberties and protecting public safety and the safety and health of our children,” said Franklin.  “I’m pleased to endorse it and have every confidence it will pass in November.”

“As amended, this measure reflects the voices and vision of communities all across California,” said Gonzalez.  “This represents best practices and the best chance California has to replace a failed system of prohibition with an effective, legal and regulated system that protects children, workers and small businesses.”

This follows last week’s announcement by Lee, an award-winning founding father of California’s marijuana reform movement, the founder and former President of Oaksterdam, and the lead proponent of Proposition 19, that he was supporting the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (or AUMA), saying “It’s important that we all get together to support one initiative.”

The Adult Use measure is based on the collaborative input of hundreds of state and local stakeholders and the recommendations of the Lieutenant Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy – and it builds on the landmark regulatory structure for medical marijuana recently passed by a bipartisan majority of the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown (SB 643, AB 266 and AB 243).

It includes strict safeguards to protect children, explicit provisions preventing marijuana monopolies, and unprecedented new investments in teen drug prevention and treatment programs and environmental and water restoration.

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Yesterday’s press release announcing recent amendments to the Adult Use Measure:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                       FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:  Monday, December 7, 2015                                              Jason Kinney (916) 806-2719

PROPONENTS OF LEADING MARIJUANA INITIATIVE AMEND TO STRENGTHEN SAFEGUARDS FOR CHILDREN, WORKERS & SMALL BUSINESS – ALONG WITH STRICT LOCAL CONTROL & ANTI-MONOPOLY PROVISIONS   

Informed by input from hundreds of stakeholders – including local officials, health and policy experts, environmental leaders, small business owners, worker representatives and social justice advocates – amendments bring measure closer in line with recently-passed bipartisan legislation 

SACRAMENTO – Proponents of the leading statewide ballot measure to control, regulate and tax adult use of marijuana announced today that they have filed consensus amendments to significantly strengthen safeguards for children, workers, local governments and small businesses and include even stricter anti-monopoly provisions and the toughest warning label and marketing-to-kids laws in the nation.

Amendments to the measure (known as “the Adult Use of Marijuana Act”) were developed based on input and recommendations received over the last 35 days from hundreds of engaged citizens and organizations representing local government, health and policy experts, environmental leaders, small farmers and business owners, worker representatives and social justice advocates.

The amendments bring the measure even closer in line with the Lieutenant Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy and the new medical marijuana laws recently passed by a bipartisan majority of the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown (SB 643, AB 266 and AB 243).

The amendments specifically strengthen and clarify four central objectives of the AUMA measure:

  1. To protect children and discourage teen drug use;
  2. To maintain local control and local government authority over marijuana commercial activity;
  3. To implement strong worker and labor protections for those employed in this growing industry;
  4. To protect small businesses and ensure state regulators have the authority to prevent monopolies and anti-competitive practices.

“These amendments reflect a collaborative process of public and expert engagement and make an extremely strong measure even stronger,” said Dr. Donald O. Lyman, MD, award-winning physician and former Chief of the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Control at the California Department of Public Health, who is the measure’s lead proponent.  “This measure now includes even more protections for children, workers, small business, and local governments while ensuring strict prohibitions on marketing to kids and monopoly practices.”

New amendments to AUMA include:

Safeguarding California’s Children

  • Mandates the toughest and most explicit warning labels on marijuana products, including an American Medical Association-recommended message that marijuana use during pregnancy or breastfeeding may be harmful.
  • Enhances the strict ban on advertising to minors to clarify that marketing to minors is also strictly prohibited, as is all health-related advertising for non-medical marijuana.
  • Requires a comprehensive study to determine effectiveness of the packaging and labeling requirements and advertising and marketing restrictions on preventing underage access to non-medical marijuana.
  • Provides funding for a public information campaign, emphasizing that marijuana remains illegal for anyone under the age of 21.
  • Accelerates funding for expert outcome research on the effects of the new law, including its impact on minors and whether teen use decreases (as it has in other states with legal, regulated systems such as Colorado).

Maintaining Local Control

  • Aligns with the bipartisan medical marijuana legislation to provide complete local control over non-medical marijuana businesses within their jurisdiction, including the authority to ban commercial marijuana activity by ordinance.
  • Ensures that local governments which allow commercial marijuana businesses to operate have the authority to determine the time, manner and location of those businesses within their jurisdiction.
  • Ensures that local governments have the authority to establish their own taxes on medical and non-medical marijuana consistent with existing state law.  Explicit authority to do so is granted to counties.
  • Requires state licensing authorities to take action to suspend or revoke a state marijuana business license when notified that a corresponding local license has been revoked, ensuring businesses must remain in compliance with local laws to operate.

Protecting Workers in an Expanding Industry

  • Requires state regulators to set specific safety standards for drivers and vehicles that are employed in the legal commercial distribution of marijuana.
  • Clarifies that the labor peace agreements included in the medical marijuana legislation will also extend to this new law.
  • Clarifies that labor violations are grounds for disciplinary action against a marijuana business licensee, including potential suspension or revocation.
  • Clarifies that all administrative costs of the new law must be fully funded, including reasonable costs for state agencies to oversee workplace safety.
  • Mandates the state comprehensively study which workplace safety standards are necessary to fully protect marijuana workers, including against risks unique to the industry. 

Preventing Monopolies and Encouraging Small Business Growth

  • To allow smaller growers to establish themselves in a legal, regulated market, large cultivation licenses (as defined by the medical marijuana legislation) for non-medical marijuana will not be issued for the first five years the new law is in effect.
  • Only after those first five years can large cultivation licenses be issued at the discretion of state regulators but they must include the same restrictions on vertical integration that are contained in the medical marijuana legislation.
  • Strengthens opportunities for minority-owned businesses to enter the legal, regulated marijuana market.
  • Sets a September 1, 2016 deadline for existing medical marijuana businesses to come into compliance with current law and qualify for priority licensing under AUMA, providing greater access for existing small businesses to enter the legal, regulated market.
  • Requires public universities in California to conduct a study and issue recommendations on whether additional protections are needed to prevent unlawful monopolies or anti-competitive behavior.  Additional technical amendments and suggested changes were included to provide increased clarity to state regulators.

Read More: marijuanapolitics.com

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Marijuana Could Soon Net Ticket, Not Arrest in Dallas

More than a thousand people in Dallas every year are arrested and thrown in jail for carrying small amounts of marijuana.

Now, Dallas Police Chief David Brown wants to stop that, saying his officers are stretched thin and their time is better spent elsewhere.

Brown’s department is floating a “cite and release” policy that will direct officers to issue a citation only, but not lead to an arrest record.

Still, after hours of debate on Tuesday, the Dallas city council’s Public Safety Committee decided to not recommend the policy. They voted to bring the issue before the full city council soon for a debate, although a date has not been set.

The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws reports 17 states and Washington, DC have decriminalized some pot possession, meaning first time offenses for small amounts are treated like a traffic ticket, handled in court.

That is not the case in Texas. Even if Dallas moves forward with the cite and release plan, a judge can still issue hefty fines of up to $2,000 and also possible jail time. However, an officer who stops a person carrying less than four ounces of pot for recreational use will be directed to not arrest the person.

Brown supports this policy from a practical standpoint, but he says he has mixed-feelings on the impact from a crime-fighting standpoint.

Dallas police arrest about 120 people every month for low-level pot possession, that’s about 1,200 misdemeanor marijuana arrests a year.

In every case, an officer must call a supervisor, generally a sergeant, to join him in the field to help monitor the field drug test. Then, the individual is arrested and taken to jail.

The whole process, according to Deputy Chief Gary Tittle, “takes about an hour. Sometimes more than that, depending on how far the shift supervisor has to drive to get to the scene.”

Tittle says cite and release would cut the time in half, since there’s no driving to jail or booking process.

That allows officers to get back on the streets faster to help respond to other 911 calls.

“We believe it’ll shave 30 minutes off all of those low-level drug calls,” Tittle said. “So those officers will be back in the 911 pool responding to other issues faster.”

More than any other reason, Brown says this is strongest argument in favor of the policy.

“Thirty minutes is important. To save that time and get the officers back on the beat so they can handle more important issues,” he said. “There’s no victim when someone has a little bit of marijuana, it’s not the best use of the resources we have.”

Councilman Philip Kingston, who serves on the Public Safety Committee, agreed.

“We just heard from David Brown that he’s stretched to the limit, and response times are suffering,” said Kingston. “And so when I see the number of arrests for marijuana-only, I think [DPD] is wasting those resources. That is contributing and compounding the problem of low response times.”

Kingston also argued that “it’s not justice” to arrest someone and bring them to jail for carrying small amounts of weed. He said this crime disproportionately impacts Dallas’ “poor and minority communities, and I don’t see the justice in starting a criminal record for someone for just this.”

Brown also argued that the policy will help alleviate overcrowding in the county jail.

“We have about 5,000 jail beds. We make 50,000 arrests each year,” he said.“

“It’s just so damn practical” to not arrest low-level drug offenders, he added.

But even the chief admits there are drawbacks. too.

It’s a well-worn crime-fighting tool, he said, to arrest someone on a low-level crime if you suspect they have knowledge or involvement in bigger crimes. The process of being booked into jail and interrogated by police can crack open much bigger cases.

Under the cite and release policy, though, if someone is detained only for marijuana, officers will be directed to let that person go.

“That marijuana-only arrest might be the only thing we have to bring someone in and interview them, but it might break open a case on a murder. Or a robbery. Or a terrorism case,” Brown said. “It may be the only reason you have at first to bring someone in. So we can see both sides of this from a law-enforcement standpoint.”

There’s also the issue of people not showing up to court, and adding to the backlog of active warrants in Dallas County.

“It’s my anticipation that if DPD officers continue to write tickets for marijuana possession, a lot people won’t show up to their court date,” Kingston said. “I hope we can agree that we’re not going to come beat you over the head for not expending valuable police resources to find somebody who had a low-level marijuana possession ticket. But I don’t know who else will make the pledge with me.”

Brown says his department isn’t suggesting carrying marijuana should go unpunished, but that it’s a bigger priority to have his officers handle more important business.

“We have a lot of debate to come,” said Brown, adding that based on what he heard at the committee meeting “you can argue both sides of this issue and win.”

Read More: nbcdfw.com