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  • Marijuana Initiative Starts Groundwork In California

    Since the wins in Colorado and Washington, advocates of marijuana legalization have become emboldened, advancing new initiatives all over the country and especially in California, The Washington Post reports.

    The initiatives are taking place in in California, Arizona, Massachusetts and Nevada, arriving at a time when Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia are preparing for voters to decide on legalization later this year.  A Public Policy Polling survey in August found that in Alaska, 44 percent support marijuana legalization, while 49 percent oppose it.

    For California, the plan is to ensure a measure lands on the November 2016 ballot–only just over a year away. The Marijuana Policy Project is filing paperwork on Wednesday in California to form a campaign committee. In Oregon, too, according to a survey conducted by Survey USA, there is 51 percent support for marijuana legalization, meaning that the whole West Coast could see marijuana becoming legal in the following couple of years. Mason Tvert, Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Daily Caller News Foundation some of the difficulties involved in both ballot initiatives and the legislative process.

    “The process is pretty clean when it comes to ballot initiatives — if a majority of voters support it, it passes. It’s not quite so simple with state legislatures, where measures with broad public support can be derailed by a couple legislators or a governor,” said Tvert.

    “One of our biggest challenges is breaking down people’s misconceptions about marijuana. For decades, government agencies and others have been exaggerating the potential harms of marijuana in order to keep it illegal. Once people understand it’s actually a far less harmful substance alcohol, they often tend to agree it should be treated that way,” Tvert added.

    California has an interesting history with marijuana. In 1996, it became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, although 18 years later, the state is still waiting for full legalization. In December 2012, a Field Poll discovered that 55 percent of Californians support marijuana legalization, which marks the first majority ever in the history of the poll. The question has been put forward to Californians since 1969.

    “A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible,” Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia said in a statement. “Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.”

    The Marijuana Policy Project has announced that it will expand its efforts into Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and other states through the initiative process.

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