Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Initiative Gathers 20,000 Signatures

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The last few months of 2011 weren't exactly fun for advocates of medical marijuana in California. The federal government threatened to seize properties being used for illegally cultivating or dispensing marijuana, media organizations including this one were put on alert that they could be prosecuted for running ads for dispensaries, and a confusing court case from Long Beach seemed to provide cities with a convenient rationale for banning storefront pot shops.

But the news wasn't all bad--apparently, the fourth quarter of last year  saw a major boost for the so-called Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Initiative, which is slated for this November's ballot and if passed, would effectively legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults.

Specifically, according to the campaign's organizers, they raised $100,000 and collected 20,000 signatures last fall. The ballot initiative's backers have set up seven campaign headquarters up and down the state, and are planning major outreach efforts this year. Notable supporters range from the predictable--Tommy Chong and Stephen DeAngelo, CEO of Oakland's Harborside Health Center mega-dispensary and star of the Discovery Channel's new medical marijuana-themed reality show Weed Wars--to libertarians like Jim Gray, the former Orange County Superior Court judge, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and California State Assemblyman Chris Norby R-Fullerton).

Meanwhile, polls conducted by the group estimate that 62 percent of Americans favor treating marijuana like California's other famous export--wine. Now there's an idea on how to revitalize California's economy: turn marijuana into the state's number one legal--and therefore taxable--cash crop. Given the fact that the Netherlands, the world's current top destination for cannabis tourists around the world--plans to ban non-Dutch citizens from having access to marijuana in January 2013, the timing seems ideal for passing that distinction on to the Golden State.


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