Chris Conrad, with Friends of Prop 64, speaks as people celebrate during a Proposition 64 election night party in Oakland. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

California voters legalize marijuana with historic Prop. 64 vote

Californians have legalized recreational marijuana, with experts predicting the Golden State will become the epicenter of the industry and potentially sway the federal conversation on legal pot.

Proposition 64 sailed to victory Tuesday night, with The Associated Press calling the race shortly after polls closed.

The measure, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, allows adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis and grow as many as six plants per home.

 

Supporters of Prop. 64, who raised nearly $16 million and touted the measure’s social justice and tax revenue reforms, celebrated news of their win at election night parties in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“Today is a huge day, not just for the state of California but for the marijuana movement in general,” said David Dinenberg, chief executive of Los Angeles-based Kind Financial, which makes software for the marijuana industry. “With the world’s sixth-largest economy legalizing marijuana, this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in regards to federal legalization.”

Opponents of Prop. 64, who raised roughly $1.3 million while citing public safety and health concerns, expressed disappointment at the outcome.

“After spending almost $20 million on Proposition 64, the financial investors are the winners, and California’s children, local communities and health care systems are the big losers,” said Andrew Acosta, spokesman for the No on 64 campaign. “It now falls on California’s elected leaders to tackle the myriad issues that were raised during this campaign – ranging from advertising to marijuana-impaired driving.”

The citizen-driven initiative prohibits driving while impaired, giving cannabis to minors or consuming it in public. And it includes provisions for licensing, testing, labeling, advertising and local control over businesses.

The act also establishes a 15 percent sales tax, plus a separate tax for growers. The Legislative Analyst’s Office anticipates revenues could top $1 billion annually, with funds dedicated to research, public safety, abuse prevention and environmental protection.

“Prop. 64 will allow California to take its rightful place as the center of cannabis innovation, research and development,” said Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association.

Legal marijuana had a strong, though not sweeping, victory nationwide Tuesday.

Four other states also voted on whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Massachusetts and Nevada approved their initiatives, while the Maine effort appeared poised to pass. Arizona rejected the move.

Four more states voted on medical marijuana. Florida, North Dakota, Montana and Arkansas voters all said yes.


This article was first published at OCRegister.com.