BY TOM ANGELL ON
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.