Heavy-hitting ReformCA releases 2016 legalization initiative

The largest and best-funded group seeking to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis in California has filed the first draft of its long-awaited voter initiative.

As currently written, ReformCA’s Control, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016 would, among other provisions, legalize possession of up to one ounce by adults 21 and over; license commercial farms and stores; allow for public consumption in licensed facilities; allow cities and counties to ban cannabis businesses by popular vote; prevent stoned driving; prevent cannabis money going to criminal cartels; and protect medical cannabis patients and caregivers.

ReformCA joins a crowded field of 10 initiatives jockeying for attention and possibly even the 2016 ballot — from bare-bones statements to fully-lawyered language.

California NAACP president Alice A. Huffman, who recently filed her own initiative, joined ReformCA as a co-proponent.

However, ReformCA lost two groups previously allied with its initiative. Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Policy Project, both well-funded, are expected to file their own initiatives.

ReformCA will need 365,880 valid signatures from California citizens to qualify for the November 2016. Getting those signatures is expected to cost about $4 million.

While ReformCA says it’s taking public comments before it re-files a refined version on Wednesday, here are some annotated excerpts from the first-draft that the group said it filed Sunday with the Attorney General’s office:

VIOLENCE AND VOLATILITY
Cannabis doesn’t kill people. Guns do.

26006. Except as otherwise provided by law, the following activities may be punished as a felony or misdemeanor:

(e) The use of violence, coercion, illegal weapons, or duress in the cultivation or distribution of cannabis or cannabis products.

(h) The unlawful manufacture of cannabis products using explosive volatile solvents.

STOP STONED DRIVING 
Would establish a sole standard for impairment.

26007. Driving while under the influence of cannabis shall be punished by Vehicle Code Sections 23103, 23152, and 23153. A person shall be deemed to be under the influence of cannabis if, as a result of consuming cannabis, his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle or operate a vessel with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances. This standard shall be the sole standard used in determining driving under the influence allegations.

MEDICAL PROTECTIONS 
People from out of state possessing proper paperwork will be covered too.

(b) Except as specifically provided otherwise, this Act shall not infringe upon the protections granted under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (codified in Section 11362.5, Article 2 of Chapter 6 of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code) or to qualified patients and primary caregivers as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 11362.7. Patients with valid physician recommendations, prescriptions, or proof of authorization to use medical cannabis from the state in which he or she resides shall be deemed to be qualified patients.

(I) Ensure that, unless expressly stated in this Act, existing laws governing the control, use, and regulation of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products operate in parallel with the control, use, and regulation of cannabis and cannabis products for general adult use, while also safeguarding the rights of patients using medical cannabis and medical cannabis products in a manner reasonably equivalent to other legal medications.

PROP. 215 PROTECTED
Patients and caregivers protected from discrimination in schools, workplace and living environments.

26010. Schools, employers, and landlords may not discriminate against or penalize a person solely for their status as a qualified patient or primary caregiver as defined under Health and Safety Code Section 11362.7, unless failing to do so would put the school, employer, or landlord in violation of federal law or cause it to lose a federal contract or funding. It is the intent of the People in enacting this Act that, to the extent feasible, schools, child protective services, employers, and landlords shall treat qualified patients or primary caregivers in a manner reasonably equivalent to patients or caregivers using or dispensing other legal medications.

PARENTS PROTECTED
Only immediate and actual threats to children could warrant child-endangerment charges or removal from home.

26012. (a) No person shall be prosecuted for child endangerment pursuant to Section 273(a) of the Penal Code, or any similar or successor statutes, for an action taken that is in compliance with the provisions of this Act, unless it is determined that there exists an immediate and actual threat to the health and welfare of a child.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an action taken that is in compliance with the provisions of this Act, by itself, shall not be sufficient evidence of parental unfitness, or child abuse, or otherwise be used to restrict or abridge custodial or parental rights to minor children, and shall not be the basis of a criminal act nor the basis to diminish parental rights or remove a child from his or her home, unless it is determined that there exists an immediate and actual threat to the health and welfare of a child.

GOVERNANCE 
Commission and office of regulation would be created.

Article 4. California Cannabis Commission and Office of Cannabis Regulation

26013. (a) There is hereby established in state government, within the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the Office of Cannabis Regulation.

(b) The office shall be administered by the California Cannabis Commission. The commission shall consist of seven public members and six ex officio members …

SMALL BUSINESS GETS A BREAK 
Tax fee structure would block domination by large corporate interests.

(c) Notwithstanding the foregoing, the fees established under this section shall be based upon the projected or actual annual revenues of the applicant or licensee, and it is the intent of the People in enacting this Act that said fees encourage small and midsize businesses to have access to the cannabis industry and that the cannabis industry is not dominated by large corporate interests.

(H) Ensure that responsible small and midsize entities have access to a licensed market for cannabis, and that the industry and regulatory system are not dominated by large, corporate interests.

LOCAL CONTROL
This should keep cities and counties happy.

Article 7. Local Control

26035. (a) Cities and counties may restrict or prohibit the commercial cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of cannabis and cannabis products; however, any prohibitions on the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products must be approved by a majority of voters residing in such cities or counties. No city or county may ban the delivery by licensed providers of medical cannabis to qualified patients for their personal medical use.

(b) Notwithstanding the foregoing, cities and counties shall not prohibit a person from cultivation of homegrown cannabis or from possessing, transporting, or using any cannabis or cannabis products where such activity is in compliance with this Act.

(c) Cities and counties may restrict or prohibit the use of cannabis or cannabis products in any public area. This includes the right to restrict or prohibit on-site consumption at licensed facilities open to the public.

(d) Cities and counties may adopt reasonable regulations on the location and operating hours of licensed adultuse retail outlets.

TAXMAN COMETH 
Growing tax. Higher tax for edibles and concentrates. Would ban taxes by cities and counties 

CHAPTER 2. Imposition of Tax

31003. Except as otherwise provided in this part, taxes are imposed on cannabis cultivation and retail sale in this state as follows:

(a) Cultivation Tax. There is hereby imposed an annual cultivation tax of two dollars ($2) for each square foot of cannabis canopy licensed. One dollar ($1) per square foot of such tax shall be collected by the board in connection with licensing the production of cannabis and shall be remitted to the city, or county(in instances in which cannabis is grown in an unincorporated area), in which the cannabis is grown. One dollar ($1) per square foot of such tax shall be collected by the board in connection with licensing the production of cannabis and shall be remitted by the board to the Environmental Restoration and Protection Account in the Cannabis Safety Fund as provided in Business and Professions Code Section 26022.

(b) Production Tax. There is hereby imposed a production tax on all harvested cannabis that enters the commercial market. The tax shall be paid by the first purchaser after cannabis is harvested and processed (such as a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer, or in the case of farm-direct sales, by the retailing farm). This tax shall be collected by the board. Ninety percent (90%) of the production tax shall be remitted by the board to the Cannabis Safety Fund, and ten percent (10%) shall be remitted by the board to the city or county (in instances in which cannabis is grown in an unincorporated area) where the cannabis is grown.

(1) The basic production tax shall be fifteen dollars ($15) per dry-weight ounce of cannabis flowers sold. This basic rate is reduced to five dollars ($5) per ounce for the first five hundred (500) pounds of cannabis flowers sold in a given year by every small-scale cultivation licensee holding no more than one-half (1/2) acre in total cultivation area.

(2) The tax rate for other cannabis shall initially be set at one-fifth (1/5) the rate for flowers, or one dollar ($1) per ounce for the first five hundred (500) pounds of other cannabis sold in a given year by a licensee holding no more than one-half (1/2) acre in cultivation area, and three dollars ($3) per ounce for all additional cannabis. The office may adjust the tax rate annually to reflect fluctuations in the relative price of flowers to other cannabis, such that the tax rate for other cannabis shall equal the basic rate for flowers multiplied by the ratio of the average market price of flowers to other cannabis.

(3) The office may from time to time establish other categories of harvested cannabis, which shall be taxed at their relative value compared with flowers. The tax rate for each category shall equal the basic rate for flowers multiplied by the ratio of the average market price of that category to flowers.

(c) The cultivation and production tax shall be adjusted for inflation, according to the Consumer Price Index, as determined by the office.

(d) Retail Tax on Sales. Except as provided in subsection (f) below, there is hereby imposed an ad valorem five percent (5%) tax on all retail sales of cannabis and cannabis products except edible cannabis products for oral ingestion and concentrated extracts and an ad valorem ten percent (10%) tax is imposed on retail sales of edible cannabis products for oral ingestion and concentrated extracts. This tax shall be collected by the board. All revenues from this tax shall be remitted by the board to the Cannabis Safety Fund.

(e) Retail Tax for Local Government. There is hereby imposed an additional five percent (5%) tax on the retail sales price of all cannabis and cannabis products. All revenue from this tax shall be collected by the board and remitted by the board to the city or county (in instances in which cannabis and cannabis products are sold in an unincorporated area) where sold.

(f) The taxes imposed under subdivision (d) above shall not apply to retail sales of medical cannabis or cannabis products when the purchaser furnishes evidence to the retailer that the purchaser is a qualified patient (or primary caregiver for a qualified patient), and neither the taxes imposed under subdivision (d) or subdivision (e) nor the state sales tax shall apply to retail sales of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products upon furnishing to the retailer by the purchaser evidence that the purchaser is a qualified patient (or primary caregiver for a qualified patient) who is eligible for Medi-Cal.

(g) Preemption of Other Local Taxes. It is the intent of this section to address taxation directed at cannabis and cannabis products and to prohibit any additional local taxes solely on cannabis and cannabis products. Once the board begins collecting the taxes imposed under subdivisions (a), (b), (d), and (e), no city or county may collect taxes directed at cannabis and cannabis products, and all such taxes are preempted.

JOBS
Many jobs would be created.

SECTION 7. Section 19302.1 of the Business and Professions Code is amended, to read:

(a) The Governor shall appoint a chief of the bureau, subject to confirmation by the Senate, at a salary to be fixed and determined by the director with the approval of the Director of Finance. The chief shall serve under the direction and supervision of the director and at the pleasure of the Governor until June 30, 2017.
Commencing July 1, 2017, the commission shall appoint a chief of the bureau at a salary to be fixed and determined by the commission. Commencing July 1, 2017, the chief shall serve under the direction and supervision of the director and at the pleasure of the commission.

(b) Every power granted to or duty imposed upon the director under this chapter may be exercised or performed in the name of the director by a deputy or assistant director or by the chief, subject to conditions and limitations that the director may prescribe. In addition to every power granted or duty imposed with this chapter, the director shall have all other powers and duties generally applicable in relation to bureaus that are part of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

(c) The director may employ and appoint all employees necessary to properly administer the work of the bureau, in accordance with civil service laws and regulations.

(d) The Department of Consumer Affairs shall have the sole authority to create, issue, renew, discipline, suspend, or revoke licenses for the transportation, storage unrelated to manufacturing activities, distribution, and sale of medical marijuana within the state and to collect fees in connection with activities the bureau regulates. The bureau may create licenses in addition to those identified in this chapter that the bureau deems necessary to effectuate its duties under this chapter.

(e) The Department of Food and Agriculture shall administer the provisions of this chapter related to and associated with the cultivation of medical cannabis. The Department of Food and Agriculture shall have the authority to create, issue, and suspend or revoke cultivation licenses for violations of this chapter. The State Department of Public Health shall administer the provisions of this chapter related to and associated with the manufacturing and testing of medical cannabis.

HOW GOES THE VOTE 
ReformCA has competition.

SECTION 12. (a) In the event this measure and another measure or measures relating to the decriminalization of cannabis are approved by a majority of voters at the same election, and this measure receives a greater number of affirmative votes than any other such measure or measures, this measure shall control in its entirety and the other measure or measures shall be rendered void and without any legal effect. If this measure is approved by a majority of the voters but does not receive a greater number of affirmative votes than the other measure or measures, this measure shall take effect to the extent permitted by law.

(b) If this measure is approved by voters but is superseded in whole or in part by the provisions of any other conflicting measure approved by the voters and receiving a greater number of affirmative votes at the same election, and the conflicting measure or any superseding provisions thereof are subsequently held to be invalid, the formerly superseded provisions of this measure shall be self-executing and given full force of law.

SCHEDULE CHANGE
Would reschedule cannabis in California, send national message.

(K) Express the will of the People of the State of California that the scheduling of cannabis be changed under Title 21 United States Code Controlled Substances Act, and to deschedule cannabis from the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

WEIGHTY DEFINITION
Consumers would get an extra half of a gram per ounce purchased.

“One ounce of cannabis” means 28.5 grams of cannabis as measured by dry weight, or where not dry, the reasonable equivalent of 28.5 grams of dry cannabis.

The Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, the group behind the ReformCA effort, teased its initiative over the summer.

The group said could have filed earlier but was waiting for legislators to pass a package of bills that would regulate medical cannabis sellers and growers.

“This has taken longer than we wanted,” Dale Gieringer, state coordinator of California NORML, which is part of a coalition behind the ReformCA initiative, told LA Weekly last week.

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