California Legalization Advocates Might Finally Get Their Wish

June 29th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

It's official. California residents will have the chance to vote on a measure that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older this November.


The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the most promising legalization initiative to appear on California's November ballot, was certified by California's Secretary of State on Monday. A random sample "showed sufficient signatures among the 600,000 turned in to qualify the measure," The Los Angeles Times reports.

"It's not an insignificant question we're going to be asked in November," Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, one of the measure's key supporters, told ATTN:. "If California falls short, it will, I think, set back the movement for legalization all across the country. If we're successful, the impact will be felt all across the country — and for that matter, in Mexico and parts of Central America."

Newsom says he's pleased with the progress, but cautions against celebrating just yet:

"The decision the voters have is a weighty one, and it's a moment to reflect on the seriousness and significance of that decision on Election Day. We're very pleased and hopeful, but by no means is this a done deal because we haven't seen yet the appetite for opposition, and we're waiting to see how that may take shape — and that will really determine how robust our campaign needs to be."

Though California was the first state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, efforts to expand the system have stalled over the years. The last time recreational marijuana was up for a vote was in 2010, but the measure was defeated by voters after a coalition of opponents, including California law enforcement and prison groups, rallied against the measure. This time around, polling and fundraising seem to be on legalization advocates' side.

The group behind the measure collected more than $3.7 million in fundraising, which is about 31 times more than the amount that opponents have raised, NPR reports. And a poll conducted last month by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 60 percent of California voters support marijuana legalization. (Only 37 percent say that it shouldn't be legal.)


The measure's backers include Newsom, NORML, the ACLU of California, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, the California Medical Association, and former Facebook President Sean Parker.

"Prohibition has failed us," Newsom told ATTN:. "It's failing our kids, it's failing our diverse communities, it's failed this country. And so we don't have to condone the abuse of cannabis or marijuana to recognize what's staring us in the face: prohibition, the war on drugs, has been an abject failure."

RELATED: The Unexpected Opponent to California's Marijuana Legalization Measure