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California Approves Legal Marijuana

California voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or Proposition 64, on Tuesday night, legalizing marijuana for recreational use throughout the state.

The ballot measure passed by a 56-44 margin with 69 percent of the vote counted late Tuesday night, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Residents 21 years of age or older will be allowed to possess and use up to one ounce (28g) of marijuana and grow up to six plants for recreational use. The measure also imposes a 15 percent sales tax and a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves on retail sales.

Medical marijuana would retain some tax exemptions. Tax revenue would go toward local health departments and nonprofits for community services including job placement and addiction treatment, while a portion would go toward state university research into the implementation of the measure and the development of a DUI test-equivalent for drivers who use marijuana.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the state has until January 1, 2018 to begin issuing licenses to non-medical marijuana retailers, meaning it could be some time before recreational dispensaries begin operating.

Proposition 64 had received strong political support from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and major financial support from Facebook investor Sean Parker, who contributed at least $1 million to the effort. Other supporters of the measure included pro-legalization outfits the Drug Policy Alliance and Californians for Sensible Reform, which together helped to raise more than $22 million for the effort.

Opponents of the measure included more than a dozen law enforcement groups across the state, the California Hospital Association and the San Diego School Boards Association. Law enforcement groups had expressed concern that the measure would, among other potential drawbacks, allow for convicted felons to obtain licenses to cultivate and sell marijuana.

California was one of three states to legalize recreational marijuana Tuesday night, joining Nevada and Massachusetts. A legalization measure in Maine was leading by just 5,000 votes early Wednesday with 89% of the vote counted. Arizona’s Proposition 205 was defeated by a 52-48 margin.

Voters in Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota approved measures legalizing medical marijuana in those states Tuesday night, bringing to 28 the number of states with medical marijuana programs on the books.

 

Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum

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