By Jacob Sullum for reason.com This week Reform CA, the leading campaign to legalize marijuana in California next year, filed the proposed language of its ballot initiative. Like the initiatives in the four states that have legalized marijuana so far, the Control, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016 would allow adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public. Like three of those initiatives, it also would let people share up to an ounce at a time with other adults and grow marijuana at home.
Unlike the other initiatives, the California measure would limit home cultivation not by the number of plants but by area: up to 100 square feet. Based on an estimate by the consultants who advised Washington’s marijuana regulators, a professional grower could produce as much as nine pounds of usable marijuana per harvest in that amount of space, although the typical home garden probably would be much less productive. Home growers would be allowed to possess and share (but not sell) whatever they produced.
The proposed initiative would establish an Office of Cannabis Regulation within the California Department of Consumer Affairs, overseen by a newly created California Cannabis Commission and charged with licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. The office would be required to start issuing “provisional licenses” to existing medical marijuana dispensaries by July 1, 2017, meaning that legal recreational sales could begin as early as then. July 1 is also the deadline for beginning to write regulations for the newly legal recreational industry. Licenses under the new rules would be issued by January 1, 2018. The initiative authorizes three levels of taxation: $2 per square foot of canopy on commercial growers, $15 per ounce on the first sale, and a 10 percent retail sales tax. Local governments could ban marijuana outlets but only with the approval of local voters.