Tonight, the Oakland City Council will vote to place the Oakland Cannabis Initiative on the November ballot. The City Clerk has alerted the council that the Registrar of Voters confirmed that enough signatures were submitted to qualify the Initiative for the ballot, making the council vote to qualify the Initiative pro forma. The City Clerk certified to the Council that the proponents of the Initiative had submitted an estimated 23,009 valid signatures -- well over the 18,748 required for qualification on the ballot.
"Legal regulation and taxation of cannabis offers the best way to reduce prohibition-related crime, keep pot off the streets and away from kids, and raise much-needed money for city services," said Dale Gieringer, member of the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance and proponent of the initiative.
The Initiative calls for the City of Oakland to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis (marijuana) for adult use, so as to keep it off the streets and away from children and to raise revenue for the city, as soon as possible under state law. Until the state allows such a system, the measure directs city police to make investigation, citation, and arrest for private adult cannabis offenses the lowest law enforcement priority, effective immediately upon passage of this ordinance. The Initiative also advocates for changes in state law (and at other levels as necessary) to authorize the taxation and regulation of cannabis and eliminate criminal penalties for private, adult use.
According to a January 2004 opinion poll, 75 % of Oakland resident responders want the enforcement of private, adult cannabis use to be the lowest priority for law enforcement and 70 % support taxing and regulating marijuana for adult use similar to alcohol.
"The whole federal drug war has been a joke at best," said East Oakland Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who supports the initiative. "People realize that it just doesn't work and we need to look to some other solutions. In the neighborhoods I represent, we would much rather see resources spent on fighting violent crime and providing economic development opportunities."
OCLA is now in the midst of kicking off a citywide grassroots campaign which has already received numerous contributions from local supporters, including business owners and private individuals. Also, several elected officials have already endorsed the measure, including: City Council members Nancy Nadel and Desley Brooks, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, County Supervisor Keith Carson and Oakland School Board Member Dan Siegel. The Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance and California NORML also support the initiative.
For more information about the Oakland Cannabis Initiative go to www.taxandregulate.com